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Chinese food science and culinary history: a new study.

THIS LARGE TOME is a most welcome contribution to the study of Chinese food science and culinary history. The author, Huang Hsing-tsung [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], served as Joseph Needham's secretary in Chongqing in the early 1940s. He subsequently went on to obtain a D.Phil. in chemistry at Oxford, and then worked for food processing and pharmaceutical companies in the United States. He also served as a program director for the National Science Foundation and more recently Deputy Director of the Needham Research Institute. The book was originally conceived in 1954 as a work on fermentation ("the conversion of grains to alcoholic drinks"), and by 1979, two other subjects, food technology and nutrition ("with emphasis on nutritional deficiency diseases"), were added. In 1984, Joseph Needham formally invited Dr. Huang to assume responsibility for the entire volume. The result is an amply documented study of ancient Chinese food resources, culinary methods, literary sources on food and drink, various kinds of fermentation, including alcohol, soybeans, and pickles, food preservation, the production of oils, malt sugar and starch, the processing of wheat flour, tea processing and its effects on health, and food and nutritional diseases in China.

Dr. Huang is uniquely qualified to write this book. He has an impressive knowledge of organic chemistry that he applies to his examination of a large corpus of Chinese textual material. His bibliography of secondary sources, especially the works in Chinese, is quite large and contains many items from Chinese journals that I have not seen. In addition, Huang has had a long-time association with Shi Shenghan [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], perhaps the leading authority in the twentieth century in the field of Chinese agriculture and food science.

The book begins with a 115-page introduction to the various types of grains, oilseeds, vegetables, fruits, land animals, aquatic animals, methods of cooking, utensils, seasonings, dining vessels, implements, and furniture that figured prominently in the history of Chinese cooking and eating. Although much of this information is available elsewhere, especially in Chinese, this is the most convenient and authoritative presentation of this information in a Western language. The section on eating implements is especially informative. For example, Huang notes that in the Warring States period chopsticks were used only for eating viands, not grain food, which was eaten with the fingers (p. 104). Only with the wide usage of the rice bowl did the practice of eating grain food with chopsticks gain common acceptance. However, Huang does not tell us exactly when this occurred. He merely specifies the time period as "after the Han" (p. 105), but provides no documentation for this statement.

Huang's treatment of the important food plants and meats is generally reliable and accurate. I only encountered a few places where I disagree with his interpretation. For example, Huang explains the word cai [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'vegetable' as consisting of two parts, cao [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'grasses' and cai [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'to gather', thus "indicating that vegetables were originally collected from the wild" (p. 32). This conclusion does not necessarily follow, for the word cai could refer to the gathering of either domestic or wild plants. For example, in the Shi jing cai is often used to designate the gathering of vegetables in a garden, as in Mao 35/1: "We gather turnips, we gather radishes" [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. The Chinese word cai 'vegetable' is directly parallel with the French word legume, which is derived from Latin legere, which means 'to gather'. Presumably in both cases the word refers to the gatherings of either domestic or wild plants.

A plant that may have been erroneously identified is the zhuyu [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (p. 52, n. 147). It probably is not Zanthoxylum ailanthoides but a type of evodia. (1)

A valuable section of the book concerns the literature and sources that pertain to the study of Chinese culinary science. Huang's coverage of this material is thorough and comprehensive. He provides a detailed inventory of what information about "culinary content" can be obtained from such works as the Shi jing, Chu ci, Li ji, Lushi chunqiu, and the Mawangdui bamboo slip lists of food products. On the Shi jing, Huang refers to Lu Wenyu's earlier study of plants mentioned in this text, but seems to have missed the more recent work by Wu Houyan. (2) Huang also surveys the vast Chinese repertoire of pre-modern works concerned with food and drink, including recipe books and the so-called "food canons" (shi jing [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), works on wine technology, "materia dietetica" (on the medicinal properties of foods). He concludes with a review of the most important modern secondary studies of food culture and technology, many of which are new to me. Most of what Huang says about these work is reliable. However, his translation of some of the book titles could be improved. For example, he translates Qimin yaoshu [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] by Jia Sixie [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (6th-c.) as "Essential Arts for the People's Welfare." Qimin is simply a term for "ordinary people" or "common people." (3) Francesa Bray translates it more or less correctly as "Essential Techniques for the Peasantry." (4) There are other questionable translations of book titles. I will cite only one other rather amusing example, the Chengzhai ji [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] of Yang Wanli [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] given as "The Devout Vegetarian." Zhai of course means 'studio'. The title should be translated Collected Works from the Studio of Sincerity.

The real "meat" of this book is the long section devoted to fermentation (pp. 149-378). This is where Huang makes good use of his training in organic chemistry. Here we have for the first time in English a lucid and comprehensive account of the origin and evolution of jiu [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] in China. Although Huang is aware that jiu is "more akin to ale or beer than wine," because the uses of jiu in Chinese gastronomic, ceremonial, and aesthetic contexts are similar to the European uses of wine, he prefers to translate jiu as "wine" (pp. 149-50). There is virtually no topic on wine fermentation that Huang leaves untouched, including the thorny matter of the meaning of the "five qi" [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], which he shows were not actually "finished products but rather intermediates in the fermentation process" (p. 164). Other valuable information in this section is the discussion of ferments, especially the processes of preparing ferments (qu [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) that are recorded in the Qimin yaoshu. One also learns much about hong qu [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (red yeast rice), which Huang translates as the "red ferment." It was made by fermenting a yeast (Monascus purpueus) over rice. The Chinese used it for various purposes: as a food preservative and flavoring agent, to make wine, and medicinally to improve digestion and enhance circulation. It is now used in modern Western medicines to lower serum cholesterol.

Although distillation was discussed in Science and Civilisation, vol. 5, pt. 4, Huang adds much more new information on the origins and history of distilled spirits and distilling apparatuses in China. He first presents a long discussion of the problematic term shao jiu [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], which literally means "wine that burns." Although this eventually becomes the common name for distilled spirits, scholars have debated what the word meant in its earliest occurrences in Tang-time texts. Huang carefully reviews all of the evidence, including two Eastern Han distilling vessels that were recently discovered, and he concludes that the Chinese made distilled spirits at least since the Eastern Han. As for the Tang-dynasty shao jiu, Huang argues that this was a potent distilled wine made in a still similar to the excavated Han stills. It probably was made "from fermented mash or from finished wine" (p. 226). However, this type of distilled spirit was rare and expensive until the late Song or Yuan period when a new method of distillation was discovered that made it possible to produce large quantities at affordable prices.

Huang treats other types of wines. The first are what he calls "medicated wines." Most of them actually seem to be ritual wines. They include chang [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (herb-flavored wine), tusu [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] that was a family drink on New Year's day, and chrysanthemum wine that was drunk on the Double Nine Festival. Then there are the various alcoholic beverages made of fruits, notably the grape, but also the famous orange wine celebrated by the Song poet Su Shi. The Chinese also drank honey wine or mead, but its introduction seems to have occurred relatively late (probably Tang). Mare's-milk wine or koumiss was known to the Chinese as early as the Han, but achieved widespread acceptance only with "the coming of the Mongols and it relapsed into obscurity when they left" (p. 248). Dr. Huang devotes a number of pages discussing the identification of the problematic word luo [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], which some scholars have identified as koumiss. After carefully examining the recipes for making it in the Qimin yaoshu, Huang concludes the luo "is a sort of defatted soured milk, liquid yogurt or buttermilk in which the protein is only slightly coagulated" (p. 253). It probably did not contain much alcohol, and thus it should not be equated with koumiss.

One of the great contributions of the Chinese is the discovery of culinary uses for the soybean. As Huang points out, the unprocessed soybean is virtually useless as a food, for it is difficult to digest, and as Dr. Johnson said about other types of beans, it "leaves an ill wind behind." However, the Chinese learned how to transform the soybean into more palatable and useful forms. Huang devotes nearly a hundred pages discussing the various culinary uses of the soybean: soybean sprouts, bean curd, fermented soybeans (dou shi [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), fermented soy paste (jiang [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), and fermented soy sauce (jiang you [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). Although what Huang says on all of these subjects is reliable and authoritative, the section on bean curd (pp. 299-333) is the most valuable. He provides here incontrovertible evidence that the Chinese were making bean curd as early as the Hart dynasty. The evidence comes from a mural painting discovered in a tomb located in Dahuting [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], Mi [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] county, Henan. Based on the analysis of the mural painting done by Chen Wenhua [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], (5) as well as his own in situ examination of the mural painting, Huang has concluded that it is an accurate representation of doufu production in the Han period. The only part of the process that the mural painting leaves out is the cooking of the dou jiang [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] or soy milk. Huang suggests that the advantages of heating the soy milk were not discovered until much later, probably the late Tang when doufu became a much more readily available foodstuff. Huang gives a marvelous account of the growing acceptance of doufu in the later imperial period, and how it was transmitted to Japan, where it was transformed into a softer and more delicate version.

Since this is a book on food science, one would expect that the author would include sections on food processing and preservation, and in this respect, Huang does not disappoint us. He considers all manner of fermented condiments, variously known as hai [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (fermented meat), ju [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (pickled vegetables), jiang [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (past or sauce), tan [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (fermented meat or fish sauce), and zha [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (pickled fish). Again, the source that provides the most detailed explanation of the process for making these condiments is the Qimin yaoshu. Huang translates and explains recipes contained in this work for jiang, a fish paste called zhuyi [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], pickled fish, and various sorts of pickled vegetables.

Another method for preserving foods in China was drying and salting, and Huang gives us a detailed account of the making of cured meat (fu [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] and xi [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), salted meat, ham (including a Yuan-dynasty recipe for the famous Jinhua [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ham), and dried fruits, which were made in three different ways: by drying, by saturating in sugar, or by storing in a controlled environment. One type of dried fruit is the mi jian [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], which is a type of fruit preserved in honey. However, this term does not occur in the Sanguo zhi as Huang claims (p. 426). (6) The earliest mention of the technique of preserving fruit in honey that I have been able to find is in the Guangzhou ji [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] of Pet Yuan [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (4th century), which mentions boiling gouyuan [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (golden citron) in honey to make what is called san [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], which is an earlier word for mi jian. (7) The earliest known occurrence of the word mi jian is in the Lizhi pu [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Handbook on Litchee) by Cai Xiang [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (1012-1067), which gives the following recipe for making preserved litchi: one peels the fruit, presses out the juice, and then cooks it in honey. (8) Apparently, mi jian could be transformed into various shapes. One famous type is the mi jian diao hua [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], which were honeyed sweetmeats carved in the shape of flowers. (9)

Huang's account of food processing also includes a twenty-six-page section on the production of vegetable oils, malt sugar, and starch. The Chinese were relatively late in producing vegetable oils for cooking. Although the Qimin yaoshu mentions sesame oil, perilla seed oil, and hemp oil, even in that period animal fat was the preferred ingredient for cookery. In was not until the late Tang or early Song that vegetable oils became "a major commodity, manufactured and traded throughout the land" (p. 440). Huang translates an interesting passage from the mid-Song work Jile bian [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Compilation of "Chicken's Ribs" or "Miscellaneous Notes") by Zhuang Chuo [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (ca. 1090-ca. 1150) that enumerates all manner of oils extracted from plants. However, the earliest description of the oil press is found in a Yuan-dynasty source, the Nong shu [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Treatise on Agriculture) of Wang Zhen [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (fl. 1333).

Malt sugar was a common sweetener in ancient China. It is mentioned as early as the Shi jing (see Man #237). Huang identifies three words that designate malt sugar: yi [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], tang (or xing) [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], and bu [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. The Qimin yaoshu devotes an entire chapter (p. 89) to describing the methods for making malt sugar from sprouted wheat. Malt sugar seems to have been the primary sweetener in premodern China until it was replaced by cane sugar in the Song period.

Although wheat was one of the primary grains in ancient China, it was not widely used until the Chinese acquired the ability to mill it into flour. The rotary stone mill was a relatively late arrival in China. The first known appearance is in the Warring States period. However, it was during the Han that its use to make wheat flour became widespread. Huang devotes forty pages to the important subject of the processing of wheat flour to make what the Chinese called mian shi [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] or "flour food." The most common type of flour food in the Han and early medieval period was bing [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], which Huang rightly translates as pasta. He reviews the early occurrences of the word bing and briefly examines some of the types of bing that are mentioned in early sources such as Shi ming [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] and the "Bing fu" [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Fu on Pasta) by the Western Jin scholar Shu Xi [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (265?-305?). I have discussed most of these in two articles, and the reader may wish to compare my discussion with that of Dr. Huang. (10) He provides a convenient chart (p. 490) that illustrates the multiple varieties of bing. They include fried, baked, steamed, and boiled types (the boiled category consists of two groups, filamentous pasta and the rice noodle). Huang also discusses the origin of the steamed bun (Old and Medieval Chinese mantou [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], modern Chinese baozi [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), the huntun [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Cantonese wonton), and its close relative the jiaozi [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII].

In any review of Chinese pasta, one is inevitably drawn to consider the question of the origin of noodles. Huang provides a highly learned and informative account of this subject. He considers several of the early terms, all of which are at least of Han date, that probably designate noodle: tang bing [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (boiled pasta), suo bing [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (string or rope pasta), and shui yin [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (drawn or pulled pasta). It is clear that the Chinese were able to make noodles from Han times on, and thus according to Huang, "there is no question that noodles are a Chinese invention." After briefly considering the question of when Chinese pasta and noodles were disseminated into other parts of Asia (the Japanese probably acquired them in the Tang period), Huang then tackles the thorny question of whether Marco Polo introduced Chinese noodles to Italy. Huang adduces evidence to show that noodles were already known in Italy before Marco Polo's time. He also shows that a type of filamentous noodle called in Persian rishta was eaten in Bukhara as early as the tenth century. Huang speculates that because Bukhara was located on the silk road, "it is entirely possible that the idea of filamentous noodles may have traveled from China to Europe along the same routes as the art of paper-making through Central Asia and the Arab world" (p. 496).

One final food item that Dr. Huang discusses in detail is tea. We learn much about the history of the one food product from China that "has gained wide acceptance throughout the world" (p. 503), including the complex terminological issue of the dual pronunciations of the graph [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], which pronounced tu meant sowthistle or smartweed, and in the pronunciation cha meant tea. Huang shows that by Han times [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] referred to tea. However, in the early medieval period, the more common names were ming [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] or chuan [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. Huang believes that tea was first used as a beverage or medicine in Sichuan "some time before the Hart" (p. 513), and eventually was introduced to other parts of China sometime during the Han. In pre-Tang times the drinking of tea seems to have been primarily a southern custom. However, by the Tang, "tea was already a significant economic activity in the realm" (p. 515).

After surveying the impressive number of "tea books" (twenty-four are listed in table 47), Huang describes the various methods for processing tea, cake teas, loose tea, and different varieties of teas such as oolong and red tea. This is certainly the best account of these subjects in English. Equally informative is Huang's account of the methods of making the tea drink and the various pots and vessels that were used to prepare it. Finally, he discusses the traditional Chinese views on the medicinal qualities of tea.

The final section of this book is a brief section entitled "food and nutritional deficiency diseases." This is mainly a review of the Chinese medical "science" known as shi liao [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] or "diet therapy," the primary purpose of which was to treat nutritional deficiency diseases. Huang examines the traditional Chinese medical literature on ying [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (goiter), jiao qi [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (beriberi), que mu [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (night blindness), and goulou [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (rickets). At least three of these diseases (goiter, beriberi, and night blindness) were recognized in pre-Han or Han times, and various remedies were devised to treat them.

It is impossible in the space of a review to do justice to the rich store of information that Dr. Huang has provided for us in this book, which is now the definitive work in any language on Chinese food science. I do have some minor quibbles, mainly having to do with philological matters. One of the important sources on Chinese food science is poetry, and Dr. Huang makes good use of this material. However, on occasion his translation of poetic passages is not accurate. Here are a few examples:

p. 161: Huang translates lines from the "Jiu gao" [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Proclamation on Wine) by Jiang Tong [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (d. ca. 310), who gives an account of the origins of wine. Huang translates the passage as prose: "But most likely, left-over cooked grain (fan [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) was left in the open (in KhungSang). Soon it was covered with a verdant (microbial) growth, and upon further storage a fragrant liquor ensued." When I first read this, I was wondering what the Chinese word for "microbial growth" might be. Upon consulting the Chinese original, I discovered that the text says something approximating the following:
 There was some cooked grain that remained uneaten,
 And they discarded it at Kongsang. (11)
 After being thickly massed, it produced a flavor;
 After being stored for a time, the aroma was fragrant.

This says nothing about the grain being covered, and there is no mention of any sort of growth, whether verdant or "microbial."

p. 223: Huang cites poems by Du Fu to argue that certain Tang-period wines must have been more potent than othrrs, and thus were more expensive because they were distilled. The first is a line from the "Yin zhong ba xian" ("Eight Immortals of the Winecup") [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] which Huang translates as "Give him one tou of wine, and he will spout forth a hundred poems." (13) The second is a couplet from "Bu jian" [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Not Having Seen Li Bo): [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] which in Huang's rendering reads: "Quickly a thousand poems, float from one cup of wine." [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] Huang then comments: "No matter how one looks at it a tou has to be many, many times larger than a cup. How then is it possible that in one case one tou can elicit a hundred poems, and in another a mere cup can inspire a thousand?" Huang thus concludes this is evidence that the "thing in the cup" must have been a distilled spirit. However, the couplet actually says the following:
 With skill and speed he can write a thousand poems,
 But now that he drifts and roams, of wine he has only
 one cup.

Du Fu here is commenting on Li Bo's situation after he was sentenced to exile in Yelang. He says nothing about poems "floating from one cup of wine." Rather, he laments the fact that Li Bo in his peripatetic existence has so little wine to drink!

Huang also makes much of Li Bo's famous line [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], which he translates "A golden goblet for the beauteous wine, ten thousand cash a tou," (15) and another line by Du Fu, which reads in Huang's translation "Come quickly and join me to partake of a tou, I just happen to have three hundred copper coins"). [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. (16) Noting that Li Bo's wine seems to cost thirty times more than Du Fu's, Huang remarks: "How can it be? Unless Li Pai was talking about distilled wine, and Tu Fu, regular fermented wine." What Huang does not seems to consider is that the figure of ten thousand per dou is an exaggeration. The phrase was already used by the late Han-Wei dynasty poet Cao Zhi [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (192-232) in his poem "Ming du pian" [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]: "I return and feast at Pingle Lodge,/Fine wine costs ten thousand a dou" [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. (17) Wang Wei [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] also uses it in the opening lines of his "Shaonian xing" [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Ballad of Young Rowdies): "Fine wine from Xinfeng costs ten thousand a dou" [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. (18) These are all literary tropes that should not be taken at face value.

p. 192: Huang cites a passage from the "Qi shi" [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Seven Explanations) by Wang Can [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (177-217), which apparently some scholars have cited as the earliest text to mention the red ferment. Huang again translates this poetic passage as prose: "During my travels in the Western region, I often needed a place to spend the night and a simple dinner. Once I was served a dish cooked with a red ferment from Kua-chou. It was soft, smooth, rich and succulent, and seems to dissolve in the mouth." [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] Huang is bothered by this passage on several grounds. First, is the fact that there is a large gap of seven hundred years between Wang Can's poem and the next textual reference to the red ferment. Second, the red ferment was a product of the sonth,'and it seems strange that Wang Can would refer to it as a product of the Western Regions. There are a number of points that will resolve these difficulties, but also dismiss this as the first reference to the red ferment. First, this is not a first-person narration by Wang Can, but a dialogue between two fictional characters, the Elder of the Hidden Void, who has retired from the world, and the Grand Master of Literary Texts. In this passage, the Grand Master is enumerating for the Elder a delicious repast that he can partake of if he will re-enter human society. An English version might read as follows:
 And then, there is:
 Fine grain brought by a traveler from the west:
 Green-colored rice from the Imperial Overnight Park,
 Milled wheat grains from Guazhou,
 Were mixed together, half of each.
 Soft and smooth, rich and moist,
 It easily dissolved in the mouth.

As for locating "red ferment" in the northwest, Wang Can's poem in fact does not contain the word hong qu [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'red ferment', but actually reads hong zhi [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], (19) which means wheat grains that have been milled, but not yet processed into flour. (20) Thus, this turns out not to be the earliest reference to the red ferment, and thus although Huang is rightly concerned about the time gap between the two earliest putative references to red ferment, this turns out not to be a problem at all.

The only other complaint I have about this book is the quality of the editing. In addition to the infelicitous translation of book tides, which I have already mentioned above, cross-references have been left out (see for example, p. 285) and some characters are miswritten (Chu ci [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] is consistently written [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). The citation of sources is not always up to scholarly standards. For example, the author provides no sources or even titles for the poems by Li Bo and Du Fu to which I refer above. He also often cites primary sources from secondary works rather than from an accessible edition of the work. Thus, it is occasionally difficult to locate some of the texts that Huang quotes. After much searching, I never did locate a book that he gives in two variant forms: Mo Ngo Hsiao Lu [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] and Mo Ngo Hsiao Lu [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII].

The book is also riddled with errors in Romanization. There are too many to list in this brief review. Here is a sampling:

p. 434: Mei Yao-chhen [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] wrongly given as Mei Jao-Chhen.

p. 224: tzu jang for tzu-jan [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII].

p. 303: Cheng Yun-tuan [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (ca. 1327-1356 wrongly given as ChSng Hsiung-Tuan.

p. 159: Kao Yu [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] wrongly read as Kao Hsiu.

p. 63: tzhu pien [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] incorrectly Romanized as chhi pien.

p. 104: Shih chi [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] wrongly written as Shih Chih.

p. 145: Hsieh phu [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] incorrectly written as Hsiai Phu.

This is a review article of Science and Civilisation in China, vol. 6: Biology and Biological Technology, part 5: Fermentation and Food Science. By H. T. HUANG. Cambridge: CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2000. Pp. xxviii + 741, illus., figs., tables, maps. $150.

(1) It is likely Evodia rutaecarpa. See Chen Guiting [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], gen. ed., Bencao gangmu tongshi [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 2 vols. (Beijing: Xueyuan chubanshe, 1992), 2: 1527.

(2) See Lu Wenyu [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], Shi caomu jin shi [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Tianjin: Tianjin renmin chubanshe, 1957) and Wu Houyan [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], Shi ring caomu huikao [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Guiyang: Guizhou renmin chubanshe, 1992).

(3) For an early explanation of qimin see the commentary by Ru Chun [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] in Shi ji [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1959), 30.1417.

(4) Science and Civilisation in China, vol. 6, part 2: Agriculture (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1984), 55.

(5) "Doufu qiyuan yu heshi?" [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], Nongye kaogu 1991.1: 245-48.

(6) Huang cites Wang Shangdian [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], Zhongguo shipin gongye fazhan jian shi [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Taiyuan: Shanxi kexue jiaoyu chubanshe, 1987), 205, as his authority. Although Wang also claims that the Sanguo zhi mentions mi jian, he does not provide any citation from the work.

(7) See Shi Shenghan [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], ed. and comm., Qimin yaoshu jin shi [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Beijing: Kexue chubanshe, 1957-58), 604, which also cites the Guangzhou ji.

(8) See Lizhi pu, Congshu jicheng, 4.

(9) Stephen H. West explains this not as fruit, but shapes of dough "drizzled with honey and then cooked." See "Playing with Food: Performance, Food, and the Aesthetics of Artificiality in the Sung and Yuan," Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 57.1 (1997): 75, n. 276. This probably is not correct.

(10) "A Literary Feast: Food in Early Chinese Literature," JAOS 106 (1986): 49-63 and "Gradually Entering the Realm of Delight: Food and Drinks in Early Medieval China," JAOS 117 (1997): 229-39.

(11) The allusion to Kongsang [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Hollow Mulberry) is something of a mystery. Does it refer to the Kongsang Mountain, or does it mean the grain food was put inside a hollow mulberry tree? I suspect it refers to a now lost myth about the origins of wine. The Chuxue ji cites a "wine canon" that says the first creation of wine was at the unbridled drinking bouts of Kongsang, where wine was brewed from millet and barley for the first time. See Chuxue ji [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1962), 26.633.

(12) The text as I give it is different from the one provided by Huang. I have used the version found in Beitang shuchao [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Taipei: Wenhai chubanshe, 1966), 148.2a.

(13) Du Gongbu shiji [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Hong Kong: Zhonghua shuju, 1972), 1.8b.

(14) Ibid., 12.9a.

(15) "Xing lu nan" [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ("Traveling the Road is Hard"), Li Taibo quanji [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Hong Kong: Zhonghua shuju, 1972), 3.17b.

(16) This is from Du Fu's poem "Bize xing" [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ("Oh, How Near!"), Du Gongbu shiji 2.9a.

(17) See Wen xuan [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1986), 27.1290.

(18) Zhao Diancheng [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], comm., Wang Youcheng ji jian zhu [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (1961: rpt. Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1984), 14.258.

(19) For a carefully edited version of the text, see Yu Shaochu [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], Jian'an qizi ji [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Taipei: Wen shi zhe chubanshe, 1990), 3.117.

(20) See Ding Fubao [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], ed., Shuowen jiezi gulin [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Taipei: Shangwu yinshuguan, 1959), 5B.2311b.


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Author:Knechtges, David R.
Publication:The Journal of the American Oriental Society
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Oct 1, 2002
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