Life in China 2017: A Picture a Day, March 10 – Another new experience with Traditional Chinese Medicine. It’s probably been about six months now that I’ve been dealing with pain in my right thigh and hip from bursitis. I decided to see (with a friends help) if the pharmacist could recommend any TCM remedies. He suggested two things, one was a normal pill form, which came with a 2 ½ day supply. The other was the interesting one! In the box were six little plastic containers, filled with dough type balls. The containers even had fancy little Chinese looking designs on them! I had to scrape off the wax that held the ball closed, then work to pop it open. Inside was the ball of medicine wrapped in wax paper. The pharmacist said I could just break pieces off and eat them, but that it didn’t taste very good, so he suggested that I break little pieces off and roll them into balls and swallow them like a pill (which I did). I did taste it also, and it wasn’t as bad as I expected, but didn’t taste good either! I did this twice a day, so the box was only a 3 day supply. Both medicines together cost 15rmb or $2.20usd. Now, did they work? Not miraculously! But, the day after I started them, I really over did the walking, and I’m not sure anything could have helped! So, I need to buy more to give them an honest try!
Life in China 2017: A Picture a Day, March 7 – You can see vendors selling quite a variety of things in China. Today we passed this man selling baskets and gourds. The gourds you see hanging from the trunk are considered to be good luck symbols; I’ve often seen them hanging on rearview mirrors. They are bottle or calabash gourds, and their Chinese name sounds similar to words for “protect” and “happiness and rank,” as well as looking like a number “8” which is considered lucky. There’s a lot more to their significance, here is an article with a lot more information if you are interested http://www.thechairmansbao.com/history-gourds-china/ . I was excited when I saw that he also had backscratchers because my husband had just asked for one ;-0 So, we bought a backscratcher for 5rmb or about 75 cents in USD.
Life in China 2017: A Picture a Day, March 5 – As most people do, I grew up with four seasons separating each year. However, in China, and some other Asian countries, there are 24 solar terms that separate the year! These 24 Solar terms, called Jie Qi节气, originated thousands of years ago as a guide for farmers (maybe like the Western Farmers Almanac?), and are still used today. But, they are so much more than agricultural terms to the Chinese people! They offer insight on the weather, the best foods to eat during each time period, and a general guide to daily living. For many of the terms, our office even sends out notices telling you what kind of weather to expect or even what foods you should eat for the best health during this period!
Translations of the terms are: Spring Begins, The Rains, Insects Awaken, Vernal Equinox, Clear and Bright, Grain Rain are all in spring.
Summer Begins, Grain Buds, Grain in Ear, Summer Solstice, Slight Heat, Great Heat, are all in summer.
Autumn Begins, Stopping the Heat, White Dews, Autumn Equinox, Cold Dews, Hoar-Frost Falls are all in autumn.
Winter Begins, Light Snow, Heavy Snow, Winter Solstice, Slight Cold, Great Cold are all in winter.
Today, March 5th, 2017, is the 3rd solar term of the year, called Awakening of Insects (Chinese: Jing Zhe). Tradition says that hibernating animals (not just insects) are awakened by the spring thunder. Supposedly, if thunder happens before this date, you can expect unusual weather for the rest of the year! The picture is of some water striders we actually saw a couple of days ago; there were hundreds of them on the pond!
Here is a short YouTube video about the 24 solar terms: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mSfoDp_rglU
Life in China 2017: A Picture a Day, March 3 – Today we tried Monkey Head mushrooms by recommendation of my Chinese teacher. They can go by a lot of other names, but the Chinese name “hóu tóu gū 猴头菇” literally translates to “monkey head mushroom.” These are usually found in the dried mushroom section of the Chinese supermarket, and sometimes, if you are in China, you can find them fresh. As you can see by the picture, they look kind of “furry.” They are also used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, for many different benefits! My teacher suggested we try them in soup, so we did, but, I must admit, I wasn’t crazy about them! They had an unusual taste to them, somewhat bitter. Because they are dried, you are supposed to reconstitute them. I thought that since they were going to cook in the soup for a couple of hours that I didn’t need to … wrong! I read afterwards that soaking them, even overnight, can remove the bitterness. The texture was interesting, they were like sponges, holding a large amount of the soup broth. If you decide to stir fry them, be sure to squeeze all of the water from soaking out! We’ll try that next time! We looked at recipes and saw that they can be combined with numerous things, and are often used as a meat substitute. We made our soup with black silkie chicken, celtuce, carrots, some dried daylily buds, and the mushrooms.