China’s Long Love Affair with a Root

July 6, 2016

Ginseng is a dried root that the Chinese believe possesses magical powers because it’s shaped sort of like a little person.

My wife often cooks with ginseng. She slices the ginseng thin and it goes into the wok with what she is cooking—tofu, cabbage, edamame, Bok Choy, etc.

The Chinese also use Ginseng as a powerful herbal medicine.

At one time, modern scientists rejected these claims, but recent research shows it does help the body resist illness and heal damage caused by stress by stimulating the immune system.

I’ve never taken the herb for its healing properties, but I like what it does for the taste of food.

Ancient Ginseng History reports that ginseng was used as an herbal medicine over 3,000 years ago and in cooking as far back as 5,000 years. Chinese emperors valued ginseng enough to pay for the herb with its weight in gold.  In America, ginseng was also used by several North American Indian nations.

In fact, some Chinese are willing to pay a very high price for older ginseng roots. Business Insider.com reports that one ginseng root from a plant that lived for 65 years in the wild was going for more than a half million U.S. Dollars, because some buyers think roots that lived in nature for a long time are much more potent than farmed ginseng that costs a lot less.

Discover China’s First Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi, the man who unified China more than 2,000 years ago.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

#1 - Joanna Daneman review posted June 19 2014

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Falling in Love with Stinky Tofu

March 29, 2016

China has a unique food culture compared to the West. For instance, my wife loves noodles. I’ve followed her down narrow Shanghai streets to a well-known won-ton and noodle shop on the corner of Chang-le and Shang-yang Road. The front is open and the ceiling low with each narrow table crowded with Chinese sitting on small chairs shoveling noodles in with chopsticks.

My wife orders a small bowl of noodles with peanut sauce for me and a bowl of blood soup and another bowl of noodles with spicy hot Sichuan peppercorn sauce for her.  As she eats, sweat beads her face but there is not one word of complaint—not one sign that she is suffering. Instead, this seriously satisfied look spreads across her face as if she has entered a Chinese noodle heaven.

When visiting Nanjing Road in Shanghai between People Square and the Bund, we always stop at the same food shop where my wife orders steaming hot noodles with the same peppercorn sauce, and I order deep fried, fresh chou dofu (stinky tofu) with the same sauce that causes me to sweat too.

At celebration feasts, a wider variety of food will be served from whole fish, crab, a variety of vegetable dishes and tofu.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

A1 on March 13 - 2016 Cover Image with BLurbs to promote novel

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What happens to the alleged culprits of Food Fraud in China? Part 2 of 2

December 23, 2015

If you read Part One of this two part series, you are probably thinking it isn’t safe to eat in China so you will stick to American food.

However, Wall Street Journal.com reported, “Struggles with food safety are not a specifically Chinese problem. Many countries, including the U.S. and Japan, have gone through similar growing pains in the food industry, says Wu Ming, a professor at Beijing University’s school of public health.”

Professor Ming is correct. Down to Earth.org reports, “Every day in the US about 200,000 people become sick, 900 are hospitalized and 14 die (that’s more than 5,000 annually) due to food borne illnesses (and few if any people are punished for these deaths). According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), about one quarter of the American population suffers from food poisoning each year.”

It’s just business as usual and those food deaths are collateral damage on the way to making profits.

New U.S. Laws for food safety cover all food except meat, poultry and some egg products and there are other exceptions too. In fact, the CDC.gov reports, “Every year, about 48 million of us, roughly one in six people in the United States, get sick from eating contaminated food—it could be you, your spouse, your kids, your parents, or other loved ones.”

And if you believe China is not doing anything about food safety, think again. I Googled “arrests in China for food safety”.

The first hit for 2014 from Food Safety News reported, “Chinese Police Arrest More Than 100 People for Selling Contaminated Pork.”

In 2013, The Guardian reported, “China arrests 900 in fake meat scandal.”

In addition, the U.S. is no saint. Sustainable Business Forum.com says, “Unlike the U.S., China arrests Food Safety Violators.”

Helena Bottemiller of Food Safety News.com recently reported, “Current statutes (in the U.S.) do not provide sufficient criminal sanctions for those who knowingly violate our food safety laws,” said Leahy, who has become an outspoken advocate of food safety reform. “Knowingly distributing adulterated food is merely a misdemeanor right now, and the Sentencing Commission has found that it generally does not result in jail time.”

In conclusion, if you are in the food industry in China and want to take short cuts regarding food safety to boost profits while possibly killing people along the way, the United States is a safer place to commit murder while making a profit, because in China, you might go to prison and even be executed.

Return to or Start with Part 1

______________________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

IMAGE with Blurbs and Awards to use on Twitter

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What happens to the alleged culprits of Food Fraud in China? Part 1 of 2

December 22, 2015

In 2011, Wall Street Journal.com reported, “Ink, dye, bleach and toxic chemicals … have been found recently in food products in China, reigniting fears over food safety despite repeated government pledges to crack down on tainted eats.”

Sounds bad, but don’t judge China before reading this entire two-part series to discover that China is not alone in the struggle to make food safer to eat.

It isn’t as if China’s government is not trying to improve food safety. In 2011, Al-Jazeera’s Melissa Chang reported from Beijing about China’s government vowing to improve food safety laws. In fact, according to Melissa Chang, more than 2,000 people across the country were arrested for failing to meet food safety standards.

The Wall Street Journal said, “One of the biggest issues is the drive to make a buck at any cost, says Lester Ross, a Beijing-based attorney with U.S. law firm Wilmer Hale. Some companies see that by using additives, they can cut overhead costs or boost profit margins, and they merely aren’t thinking about the affects the additives will have on consumers, Mr. Ross says.”

Melissa Chang demonstrated how a chemical sauce to turn meats such as pork into beef can change any meat that isn’t beef into beef so the enterprising capitalist can charge more and increase profits.

Is that capitalism at work?

Since living in China means awareness of such trickery, “Many Chinese,” Chang says, “pay a premium to know exactly where the food they eat comes from.”

Chang then talked about an organic food cooperative in the suburbs of Beijing, which was established by families to buy directly from organic farmers and the project was successful.

However, Chang said, “Even the best intentions (may) go awry.” Organic in China doesn’t mean the food would qualify as organic outside of China since so much of the air and water is polluted there.  It is a challenge to grow quality produce.  Achieving better standards will take years.”

What about food safety in the U.S.? Continued on December 23, 2015, in Part 2

______________________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

#1 - Joanna Daneman review posted June 19 2014

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The Popular Street Art of Chinese Calligraphy

December 2, 2015

Chinese calligraphy is demonstrated in the videos included with this post. In China, many artists use sidewalks as a canvas and a brush with water to paint the beauty of calligraphy. As the water evaporates, the art vanishes.

In fact, calligraphy is more popular than ever. After the Cultural Revolution (1966 until 1976 when Mao died), many people turned to calligraphy in the hope of finding solace in the calm repetition of its exercises. Then, in 1981, the Chinese government took the lead in setting up a Chinese Calligraphers Association, the first such nationwide body ever to be established in the country.

Both a language and an art, Chinese calligraphy has been traced back more than 4,000 years to the crude form called “Jia Gu Wen” found on turtle shells from the Shang Dynasty.

Calligraphy first bloomed as an art during the Han Dynasty but by the time of the Tang Dynasty, it had declined as an art. > Chinese Calligraphy History

It would be difficult to talk about Chinese art without understanding Chinese calligraphy and its artistic inspiration. A painting has to convey an object, but a well-written character conveys only its beauty through line and structure.

In Shanghai on sidewalks, or Beijing at The Summer Palace, I’ve watched men with long handled brushes, as seen in the first video, using water for ink and concrete for paper. With grace, they exhibit the skills of a Rembrandt breathing life into the characters.

America’s so called street artists should copy the Chinese that practice calligraphy and trade in their cans of spray paint for brushes and water, which would save US taxpayers a lot of money.

Lin Yutang writes in My Country and My People that Western art is more sensual, more passionate, fuller of the artist’s ego, while the Chinese artist and art-lover contemplates a dragonfly, a frog, a grasshopper or a piece of jagged rock—more in harmony with nature.

Owing to the use of writing calligraphy with a brush, which is more subtle and more responsive than the pen, calligraphy as art is equal to Chinese painting.

Through calligraphy, the scholar is trained to appreciate, as regards line, qualities like force, suppleness, reserved strength, exquisite tenderness, swiftness, neatness, massiveness, ruggedness, and restraint or freedom.

Maybe this helps explain why the Chinese are not as warlike as Christian and Islamic cultures.

______________________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

#1 - Joanna Daneman review posted June 19 2014

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Diving Deep into China with Isham Cook “At The Teahouse Café”

September 8, 2015

At The Teahouse Cafe, 15 essays by Isham Cook, delves into East Asian Culture and a number of related issues and topics.

Isham Cook has been based in China since 1994, more than twenty years. Writing with the perspective of an American expatriate who has lived in East Asia that long offers readers a view from someone on the ground, and I think that Cook does not disappoint.

The topics of his 15 essay range, for instance, from China’s Great Firewall, the complexity and meaning of Chinese “face”, music, China’s education system to the aversive racism of the term “yellow fever”—something that I’ve also been accused of. Cook goes into detail of why men are attracted to specific women of any race, and I think he is right.

And for his essay on The Chinese University, I Hi-Lited: “The problem with the Chinese university is not the people, it is the system in control, which paralyzes, demotivates and demoralizes.”

The reason why I Hi-Lited that one phrase while reading the book was because it described what is happening in the United States. Since 2001 and President G. W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act, and then President Obama’s attempt to seize control of America’s public schools with the so-called Common Core State Standards and the high stakes test meant to rank teachers, fire them and close public schools, that quote describes what is happening in the U.S.

Isham Cook At The Teahouse Cafe

You have been gone too long, Isham. The U.S is under attack by a flock of oligarchs and autocrats that might even shock or impress the Chinese Communist Party because of their tactics to mislead and fool as many people as possible in the U.S. In fact, while China is struggling to lift as many of its people out of poverty as possible, what’s going on in the U.S. is increasing poverty at a frightening pace, especially among children.

Anyway, Isham Cook delves deep into many topics about China, it’s culture and people based on his own experiences living there and interacting with the Chinese. He discusses the bad and the good and doesn’t spare the United States either, and I think that is a good thing because far too many ignorant Americans think the U.S. can do no wrong.

My own interaction with the Chinese pales in comparison. My wife is Chinese, her family is Chinese—mostly born and raised in China during the Mao era—and I’ve been to China nine or 10 times but never lived or worked there, and my last trip was in 2008 when the air pollution in Shanghai contributed to a sinus and respiratory infection that sent me flying home several weeks earlier than planned to recover.

I recommend At The Teahouse Cafe for anyone who wants to get a serious, intellectual dose of the real China from an American who has lived and worked there as long as Isham Cook has. This book should open your eyes as long as your thinking isn’t a closed, dead-end street.

______________________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

#1 - Joanna Daneman review posted June 19 2014

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China’s Sweet Mooncake Mania

July 21, 2015

September is right around the corner and that means Mooncake Mania in China.

Back in 2010, I wrote a post about China’s Mid-Autumn Festival, which is also the time of year for giving and eating mooncakes. At the time, I had no idea that Haagen-Dazs sold the most sought after modern version of this Chinese traditional treat.

My wife learned from a friend in China of the popularity of Haagen-Dazs and mentioned the mooncakes, so I did some scooping for this post. Mooncakes are traditional gifts to friends, family and clients during the Chinese mid-autumn festival, and Haagen-Dazs’s Mooncakes have shown a 25% annual growth in sales since they were first introduced in 1997 and represented 28% of Haagen-Dazs’s revenue every year!

Fast forward to 2015 and over 50% of the Chinese people have now heard of Haagen-Dazs—that’s more than 650 million people or more than twice the population of the United States.


Mooncake Mania for China’s September Holiday

Kai Ryssdal reported for American Public Media’s Marketplace that China’s mid-Autumn Festival and tradition of eating mooncakes has become an underground business possibly worth billions.

Marketplace’s Shanghai correspondent Rob Schmitz says mooncakes carry about a thousand calories and most of the cakes bought are gifts as a way to show respect to business partners and people you want to be close to.

Imagine the size of the market—more than 1.3 billion people, which explains why Starbucks, Nestle and Dairy Queen got into the business of selling mooncakes in China too. In fact, Starbucks offers espresso and hazelnut mooncakes; Godiva promotes a chocolate variety; Häagen-Dazs features cookies-and-cream ice cream mooncakes.


2009 Haagen-Dazs Chinese Mooncake Commercial

Industry groups estimate that mooncakes bring in $2 billion in annual sales in greater China, accounting for 200,000 metric tons (about 220,400 tons) of production each season. – New York Times

______________________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

#1 - Joanna Daneman review posted June 19 2014

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