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TOPICS INCLUDE: Seaweeds and body organs; Lou Wai Lou's founding; Chinese Restaurant News starts; Sichuan peppercorns tingle; Beggars Chicken in Hangzhou; Children and chopstick use; Round cakes at Mid-autumn Festival

by Jacqueline M. Newman

Letters to the Editor

Summer Volume: 2014 Issue: 21(2) page(s): 9 and 10

Think you may have addressed this before, but I can not locate it in your index or in any article or letter to the editor. Can you provide a list of foods and the organs of the body they help or are related to. I have seen different ones matched with different colors, different organs, etc. Am studying seaweed and want to know which one goes with what, and how I can tell which one helps which illness?
HELENE: Thank you for your query. I am not an herbal practitioner nor an expert about seaweed. What I do know is that seaweeds are often discussed in terms of their color and the body organs they help. For example, red seaweeds are used to treat the liver, gall bladder, eyes, and muscles. They are though of as part of the wood element or wood category as are sour foods, carrots, tomatoes, plums, and watermelon, also eel, jelly fish, etc. while white and yellow seaweed are related to the heart, tongue, and small intestine Seaweeds that are yellow and white relate to lungs, skin, and nose, and to foods such as bean sprouts, ginger, garlic, adzuki beans, edible frogs, spinach, asparagus, river shrimp, and sea cucumber. Black seaweeds relate to the spleen, mouth, kidneys, ear, bladder, and the stomach, and foods such as lotus root, onions, potatoes, mushrooms, eggplant, ginkgo, and Chinese matrimony vine while blue seaweeds relate to the heart, tongue, and small intestine, and scallions, spinach, asparagus, mutton, apricots, and cherries.
Overall, I suggest you consult an herbalist or a traditional medical practitioner for more information and more clarification. Visit one with specific questions written down on paper before visiting them. You need to know that not all lists nor all professionals agree because there are differences as to where one’s ancestors come from, their heritage, outside influences, etc. When your study nears completion, do tell us with you learned. Not many TCM practitioners study these sea plants and this information is hard to come by so many can benefit from what you learn.

Eating at my namesake, the Lou Wai Lou Restaurant, sounds terrific, and I did enjoy all you said about this eatery. I also wonder if you can provide some history about this long-loved Hangzhou eatery?
LOU: Glad to share what we do know. This restaurant was founded in 1849; it faces the West Lake in Hangzhou and backs up to Solitary Hill. Lovely, it has expanded over the years with a second story, more space on the ground floor, a larger kitchen, and many air-conditioned public and private dining rooms. Most of the latter are on the second floor as are several large banquet halls. We love the stairwell to the second floor. Its walls used to be plain but now are gorgeous and wood-covered, the panels have scenes of Chinese history in the Zhejiang region. Did you notice them in a previous issue?
This eatery is famous for West Lake Sour Fish, Long Jing Shelled Shrimp, Honeyed Ham Cubes, Beggar’s Chicken (pictured on this page), Fried Prawns, Fairies Duck, Sister Song’s Fish Soup, Fish Head Soup, West Lake Water Shield Soup, and other dishes. Much has been written about their Beggar’s Chicken in lotus leaf with its very special flavor.
They do have a take-away menu, shown on this page. It is changed seasonally with local specialties added. On a most recent visit the hairy crabs were in season, their claws tied with red raffia-like string. Inexpensive, they were not, delicious they were. They were shown in the previous issue.

From SUE in BILLINGS: When was Chinese Restaurant News founded and why; and who owns this magazine? SUE: Smart Business Services, Inc. is the private company that owns Chinese Restaurant News (CRN), Asian Restaurant News (ARN) and many other publications.
You can check CRN out at either www.s-b-s.net and www.c-r-n.com and ARN at www.A-R-N.com. CRN was founded in 1995 to inform Chinese speaking owners and operators of their then more than forty thousand Chinese restaurants in the US; it provides industry news and trends. ARN, founded some years later, does the same for owners of Asian restaurants, their owners and managers not reading nor writing Chinese. Flavor and Fortune pays for and is printed by S-B-S, and not affiliated with it or any of its other publications.

Have you seen the three-inch Food Science item headlined 'The Tingle Is Only a Feeling.
We did learn more about Sichuan peppercorn and had heard about the article several times from others, but only after receiving your email. Did not know how the vibrations of nerve fibers, not taste receptors, are why people think this cuisine does numb tongue and lips. Who are we to quibble with the researchers at University College London who determined the frequency of these 'faux' vibrations people receive at some fifty times a second. Do getting your copy.

From LONNIE by e-mail:
Thank you for the review of the Lou Wai Lou restaurant. You spoke of several things but no pictures. You did say you ate Beggar's Chicken there. Can you show us what it looks like? Do they have a take-out menu? You also mention Yu Yuan Gardens., and their zig-zag bridge. Why not show us these pictures?
LONNY: Your wish is our command.

From CHARLES, A long-time subscriber:
Any old picture of channels, also called meridians, I can show my students?
CHARLES: There is an old Traditional medical picture said to be about Chinese medical thinking two thousand years ago. It is about blood flow and qi and as close as we can get to what you had in mind. We will mal it to you, but do not have permission to publish it.

From KONDA in Minneapolis:
This question may be elementary, but will you show us the best way to teach children how to use chopsticks?
KONDA: As a lefty, I may be the wrong person to ask. Instead, do ask your server next time you are in a Chinese restaurant. The odds are good they use their right hand because Chinese parents always teach their children to use chopsticks with their right hand so they do not interfere with the chap on their left. For those who have trouble using these ‘quick boys,’ as they are called, we did see a clever use of them with a clothespin. Remove the metal spring and insert the sticks, one on each straight end of that spring as this picture shows. Do remember to remove the sticks and only take the spring home after our child uses them in a restaurant.

From PATRICIA in Pittsburgh:
Why are the round cakes used to celebrate Mid-autumn Festival called mooncakes?
PATRICIA: The story, in China Today's September 2013 issue, says they can be traced back three thousand or so years. These early pastries were made with walnuts, and named after the Taishi Cake in memory of the Wenzhong Prime Minister of the last Shang Emperor, Zhang Qian (200 - 114 BCE). When made with sesame seeds and walnuts, they can be called hubing or walnut cakes. Seems Emperor Taizong was not fond of that name, so once when out and eating some with one of his four beauties, specifically Lady Yang Yuhuan, he looked up at the moon and exclaimed: yuebing or moon cake. That name has been used ever since. That same article advises that during the Northern Song Dynasty (960 - 1127 CE) more ingredients were commonly added and this confection then made closer to those most of us know today. They were and now are made with lard, egg, sugar, and fruit. Imprints on the top of them became popular in the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644 CE). Today they even make vegetarian ones with no lard and no eggs.

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