Today I learned the Mandarin words for various fruits and vegetables. I also learned some interesting things about how the Chinese prepare food.
I have been on a rampage looking for ideas of how best to clean the food we eat and the water we drink. In the US, I hardly ever thought about it. I didn't think about it in London - although I did keep tabs on what they found in the tap water (unusually high levels of estrogen, lead and prozac). In China, however, I've found myself obsessed with eliminating toxins.
So I asked my Mandarin teacher, a really attractive 20-something Chinese gal (I can't pronounce her name, but it means sunrise - because that's the time of day she was born), how the Chinese wash their vegetables. She told me her mother soaks them for 2-3 hours in rice water (water that has been used in the 2nd and 3rd time to rinse rice). The rice water is supposed to bring out the chemicals and toxins. Can this be scientifically proven or is it just an old wives tale? I guess I could buy that the starch from the rice pulls out the toxins. Would love to see if someone knows more on this subject?
I have also heard the Parcell's method, which includes adding a small amount of clorox bleach to a large amount of water, is supposed to clean food and remove toxins - although I must say I am hesitant to try it.
Anyway, she went on to tell me that the Chinese believe this rice water to be very nourishing (which is interesting because in America, white rice is bad, brown rice is good). The Chinese ladies actually use it in their hair as conditioner, and some make-up companies include it in their formulas.
My teacher provided me with a recipe and I taught her the word chili pepper, let her sniff one of Chase's maple biscuits (they don't have maple here) and tried to explain how a dill pickle tastes, which I must admit, is actually pretty hard to describe.
Oh, and as an aside, I also learned that when the Chinese pose for a picture, they say a word that sounds like "cheese," but really it means eggplant.