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Healing Cuisine of China , The
by: Zhuo Zhao and Geroge Ellis
Healing Arts Press 1998, $19.95, Paperback
Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Spring Volume: 1999 Issue: 6(1) page(s): 10
Billed as "A Comprehensive guide to the Chinese art of healing with food," one is nervous reading this sentence. More so when the book promises "all-natural ingredients in the proper combinations."
Featuring more than three hundred recipes deemed authentic, the husband and wife team tout their recipes for vibrant health and longevity. Not being medical doctors, they take some liberties. For example, they recommend an Egg and Sugar recipe for colds with a runny nose, Chrysanthemum Wine for a headache, Poplar Leaf Tea for bloody stools, a daikon decoction for obesity, and items hard to acquire such as Silkworm Excrement Wine to rid the body of evil wind and dampness.
After an introduction and chapters about origins and theories of medical knowledge, causes of illness in Chinese medical theory, they lose me as they discuss the healthy properties of many foods. There are also Chinese home remedies for for common health conditions such as acne, anemia, alcoholism, corns diarrhea, hepatitus, and sexual problems, among others.
The foods and healing section is fascinating. However, do take their own advice and get the advice of a medical doctor before trying peaches or clams as remedies for high blood pressure, licorice to counteract toxins but which types are not mentioned, eel for rheumatic disorders, and half dozen egg yolks in a single sitting to cure both vomiting and diarrhea, or any other ideas offered.
There is much in the chapter on longevity banquets, Some of its recipes made it to my table. The Tofu and Scallions dish was good, but reducing by fifty percent, the half cup of scallions next time around, would be better. The Tomato Soup is wanting in culinary expertise. Two tomatoes cut in wedges came with no peeling instructions so rolled peel floated on every bowl of this soup, a pity as its taste was very good.
The Spinach with Celery was simple and satisfying as was the Buddha's Delight, perhaps because it was loaded with braised gluten, potatoes, wood-ear mushrooms, lily flowers, tofu, and five cloves of garlic. They said this recipe strengthens qi, dispels dampness, and warms the stomach. Never mind that, it warms the heart, The Spicy Eggplant they say stimuates the stomach and the spleen. It did stimulate and we did make it for lunch a second day because it is piquant and perfect.
The section about exercising for health is short and uses poor pictures coupled with words to enable the exercises. Techniques discussed were minimal. The book ends with eight mail-order sources, three in New York and five in San Francisco, should you want any suggested herbal supplies. And there is an index. On the page behind the title page, they correctly advise that the remedies are meant to supplement and not be a substitue for professional medical care or treatment. How right they are. The recipes are of historical interest and, as they say, should not be used without medical attention if you are ill, as was said before.