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Foods and Culinary Utensils of the Ancients

Half a catty of ginger and a few taels of almonds and spices


Rice

is seldom ground except when made into cakes.

The sorghum, or hauliang (extensively cultivated in the north), is not used as in America for the manufacture of sugar, but the seeds are ground and made into a coarse bread or used for the preparation of some brands of whiskey.

Sweet potatoes are sliced into coarse strips and dried in the sun. It is, though, considered a sign of extreme poverty to be seen eating them at any meal other than a lunch or hurried repast.

Of the vegetables, the petsae or white cabbage is the most widely cultivated.

Beans grow luxuriantly. Fully one-half of the crop is crushed for the sake of the oil, the residue being pressed into bricks and used as a fertilizer.

"Bean curds" is a very popular dish, especially for breakfast. The beans are ground to a flour, which is passed through three strainers of coarse, medium fine and very fine linen. This is boiled for an hour over a slow fire until the proper consistency is obtained.

Salted beans form quite an important article of commerce. Four catties of beans are put in a jar with one catty of salt, half a catty of ginger and a few taels of almonds and spices. The jars are then sealed and left untouched for about a month.

A more novel way is to put the beans in earthenware

jars filled with very clear spring water, changing the water every four hours. In seven days tender shoots have appeared and the beans are then sold as a delicacy.

Peanuts are grown for the sake of their oil.

Hsiang-yu is a fragrant oil made from peanuts and beans, which is used for the toilet and by the poor for cooking. Castor oil answers the same purposes.

The juice of the sugar cane is extracted by crushing the stalks in two perpendicular cylinders, kept in motion by a yoke of buffalos, the juice being received in a tub placed beneath. Lime is added to the juice and it is then immediately boiled.

[Illustration: A Chinese poulterer's shop.]

Within the limits of Chinese territory are found almost all known varieties of fruits, some of which are indigenous to it.

The whampee is a yellow skinned fruit about the size of a grape which hangs in clusters from the glossy-leaved trees which produce it. The flavor is tart and its three or four stones are of a greenish color.

The li-chi has a rough red exterior. Inside is a white film which incloses a watery translucent pulp of a sweetish taste and a brownish black ovoid stone.

The lo-quat is a species of medlar.

Oranges, ginger, etc., are preserved in sugar.

Ducks are raised in almost incredible numbers. Their eggs and those of fowls are frequently hatched by artificial heat.

Eggs that have been preserved in lime for several, sometimes a great many, years are much esteemed. After a quarter of a century, the yellow assumes a dark brown color and the whites have the appearance of meat jelly--strange though it may seem, they are really excellent in that condition.

All foods served at a genuine Chinese dinner are previously cut into minute particles. The large roast pieces which adorn the tables at dinners given in seaport towns to foreigners of note are placed there merely in deference to the customs of the guests.


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