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Fung Shui Cookbook, The
by: Elizabeth Miles
Carol Publishing Group 1998, $17.95, Hardbound
Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Spring Volume: 1999 Issue: 6(1) page(s): 9
Written by a Los Angeles-based writer who specializes in food, health, and holistic approaches to well-being, the introduction and both parts of this guide feed your qi and are intended to assist in the daily act of cooking and eating. In many ways, it is an adapted version of the octagon used by feng shu masters making the home an enlightened eating environment.
The introduction discusses wind and water, Feng Shui, and I Ching orienting your kitchen and dining room, even the entire house, and your eating. There is information about Feng Shui Ba Gua, Yin and Yang, the Five elements and the Five Flavors. All are carefully detailed with excellent examples, comparatives, and recipe suggestions.
The second part of the book provides sixty-four recipes, followed by a list of them and their yin/yang or balanced nature. Each is written in standard style followed by a discussion of the 'Essence of the Dish,' 'Options and Opportunities,' and 'Complements.' These three sections provide Chinese medical background about the balance of the dish, ways to clean, cut, and substitute items used in it, and dishes that go well with each of them.
Among soups, there is a Green Grape Gazpacho, a Miso Soup, even a Slimming Soup. The salad and seasonings chapter has a mix of items including Chinese Chicken Salad, Crab and Cucumber Salad, Lively Lentil Salad, and Soft Salad with Orange-Sage Vinaigrette. The chapter on beverages gives recipes for Fresh Ginger Tea, Pacific Martinis, and Tamarind Cooler with Lime Cubes. Clearly some are Chinese recipe adaptations.
Among the main courses, I found favor in a Black Bean-Stuffed Chicken Breast and in Broccoli Bowties. I made both for lunch. They lasted for three meals. However, on the last day they were supplemented with the Drunken Firepot Shrimp.
Most of the recipes make marriages with other cuisines. The Eggplant, Tomato, and Chevre Tart and the Seared Salmon with Horseradish Butter are two more examples. Some of the recipe titles stretched those considerations such as the Berry Balsamic Parfaits which were but a mix of various berries with a reduction of sugar and balsamic vinegar. Others carried titles or tastes that needed explanation. The Mending Moussaka had lamb, olive oil, red wine, oregano, butter, hot milk, and feta cheese among its ingredients. Hardly Asian even though lamb is served on the first day of fall in some areas to 'fix you up for winter.' The Green Tea Tofu Flan tasted bitter. As China's 'liquid jade,' tofu increases longevity along with the soy milk. To make one want to increase chances of consuming it, I would increase sugar, vanilla, and green tea. It claims to aid congestion, restlessness, and/or stress; written its way, it did me more harm than good, fixed, it did calm me down.
The short reading list at the end, and the many pages before the recipes, are a source for those looking for new and popular ideas as well as peak performance. If they energize mind and body, they do so many miles from the origins of Feng Shui.©1999