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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Alimentacio i cultura - 9 receptes: Yudôfu, Mochi, Dimsum

Alimentacio i cultura   
9 receptes

1) Yudôfu: Plat d’hivern en el que s’escalfen cubs grans de tofu en aigua ..
2) Bibimbap (arròs al vapor amb  vegetals).
3) Mochi. Es bull l’arròs amb gluten en un recipient i s’aixafa fins fer una pasta amb la que es fan els pastissos.
4) Pollastre amb ametlles i gingebre: (annex recepta)
5) Sopa de miso:
6) Juk:  S’elabora amb diferents grans.
7) Dimsum:
8) Tempura:
9) Chajangmyeon: 

Plat 1) Yudôfu: 
Plat d’hivern en el que s’escalfen cubs grans de tofu en aigua amb konbu (varietat d’alga), i després es mullen en una salsa calenta a base de soja, i es mengen amb yakumi (herbes i espècies utilitzades com a condiment), katsuobushi (bonítol dessecat, fumat i curat amb bolets) en virutes i la part verda de cebes tallades molt fines.
a)  Localització (país o regió d’on és més característic el plat)
Yudôfu is one of the well-known Japanese dishes Those from Kyoto are celebrated nationwide by its ‘silkwise texture’.
Cultural note: Yudofu' served at Nanzenji Temple is probably the most famous. For the Kyotoite, 'Yudofu' had historically been something that was employed to make fun of 'Bando Musha' (barbarian worriors from eastern Japan) who had invaded this venerable city. Watching those rude people appreciate 'Yudofu,' Kyotoites used to make fun of them behind their backs, saying, "They say 'Yudofu' is delicious. What kind of palate do they have? They don't know what they're doing."
b)  ¿de quina cuina es tracta? ¿característiques d’aquesta cuina?
It’s been a traditional Zen vegetarianism Shojin ryôri especialty. This cuisine entered Japan with Chinese Buddhist monks. Lately it has been the base of modern high cuisine (kaiseki- ryôri).
Yudofu, a simple nabe dish of tofu cubes simmering in hot water, evolved around this period. It’s a perfect dish for autumn or winter and it is said that it tastes best when scooped up at the moment it floats up to the soup surface.
They come down to the Japanese of harmony and wholeness. They have to use 5 cooking techniques and display the 5 colors and offer the 5 tastes.

Clean the fish (dried kelp, konbu) with wet towel or perhaps you have it in soup stock (dashi - but sometimes dried bonito or sardines) and not with running water. Put the konbu and water in a donabe ceramic pot and leave it for a few hours. Get the soy sauce in a pot and heat to make dipping sauce. Pour the dipping sauce into individual bowls, and that is interesting.

c)   Ingredients: el tofu. Explica
Tofu is also known as soybean curd (alternative words: Toufu, Toofu, Bean curd, Touhu). Soybeans are soaked for 20 hours. Then the beans are ground, mixed with water, and boiled for twenty minutes. The soybean milk is strained and filtered to separate solid part (okara) and liquid one (tounyu). Then a traditionally saltwater by-product (nigari) is added to the milk to make it clump together. This clump is called a curd. The curd is cut into blocks and used in many ways as a very nutritious and tasty food. Tofu is easy to digest and is presented in any shape, nmost common the rectangular shape and can be grilled, soaked and fried. 
The best account on history of the product I have found is :
http://www.fengshuitours.com/SFC/NFsoyfoods361.asp

 

d)  estris, normes a taula  (estris utilitzats per a preparar i/o per a consumir el plat, normes a taula del lloc d’on és originari e plat)
You will need two bowls and a spoon and a pair of choptsticks. Pour the dipping sauce into individual bowls. Add some topping in the bowl and eat boiled tofu, dipping in the sauce .
By the Edo period (1840–1867) the communal one-pot meal derived into the small, individual nabe. In a sense, this small pot allowed to each person to cook following their own taste heating the soup in the portable brazier (hibachi) which led to a rich diversity in nabe cuisine.

Ref. Flavours of Korea: With Stories and Recipes from a Korean Grandmother's Kitchen

Millon, M & Millon K. Andrea Deutsch publishers

Plat 2) Bibimbap (arròs al vapor amb  vegetals). 

Els ingredients són arròs, brot de soja, diferents verdures, gochujang i oli de sèsam. És un plat que barreja l’arròs i diversos tipus de vegetals, visualment atractiu.

a -Localització (país o regió d’on és més característic el plat)
Bibimbap  is a good representative of the Chosun Dynasty, and its name is made of bap (boiled rice) and bibim. The dish name stands for 비빔밥 (literally meaning mixed rice or mixed meal)
The area where it is a representative meal is Northern Jeolla, the best ones reportedly prepared in the town of Suchang  
b-aquest plat il·lustra una manera de “pensar” l’alimentació. Explica
They come down to the Chinese principles of harmony and balance. They have to display the 5 colors and 5 tastes. (see d-section below to lay out)
c-ingredients gochu (or Kochu) & gochujang  : crucial ingredients in Korean cooking.
The gochu is the red pepper –incidentally two language related items: The pungent, red, podlike fruit of any of several cultivars of the pepper plants, Capsicum frutescens and C. annum. is named after the Quechua chin (cold), tchili (snow), or chilli (where the land ends). And secondly, besides the geumjul reference in our uoc modules about the male identity, gochu stand also as the Korean nickname for penises (due to shape), highly appreciated in son’s following a Confucian attitude to male boys (you hear the locals say ‘gochu, gochu’, with an erected finger, pointed at the little boys).
And gochujang  which  is a fermented paste made from soybeans, glutinous rice, malt, and red chili. It is associated to the healthy properties with its C vitamin.   
To make seasoned red pepper paste, combine 4 tablespoons of red pepper paste, 1 tablespoon of sugar, 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds and 2 teaspoons of sesame oil, and then mix well.

d-estris, normes a taula
This dish comes in two ways: a large bowl with rice on the bottom and the other ingredients placed on top, or just the ingredients in the bowl and a separate bowl of rice. Mix all the ingredients together then use your spoon to eat. A bowl of light soup is also served.
Most restaurants prepare the dish with a big scoop of gochujang and red pepper paste placed with the vegetables (get them displayed on the side if you do not like the taste much!).

The display of foods is a set pattern: the rice goes to the left side (with a small bowl with soy sauce) and the soup goes on the right one (plus the chojang). Then you will use the Korean spoon for the former and the chopsticks for the rest.
At the Korean table, each person is served an individual serving of rice and soup (guk); while several side and main dishes are arranged for everyone to share.
Though people do not need to finish all the shared food that was provided, it is customary to finish one's individual portion of rice. Accordingly, it is usually perfectly acceptable to ask for refills on any of the side dishes, since all traditional Korean restaurants are, in this sense, "all you can eat."


Plat 3) Mochi. 
Es bull l’arròs amb gluten en un recipient i s’aixafa fins fer una pasta amb la que es fan els pastissos. Es mengen així mateix mentre són tous, i quan s’endureixen es torren i se serveixen de moltes maneres,  com per exemple amb nori (varietat d’alga),  o salsa de soja.
a)  Localització (país o regió d’on és més característic el plat)
In both areas: eastern and western Japan

b)  el mochi s’integra en una sopa, característica d’un àpat tradicional molt assenyalat ¿quin? Descriu  i explica aquest àpat
Ozoni is a mochi soup cooked with vegetables and other foods. The ingredients may vary according to various regions in Japan , but the essential mochi is always present. Ozoni is partaken by practically every Japanese as the first meal of the Oshogatsu (new year), as it is considered “necessary" for the insuring of a happy new year to come.
The word zoni is written as two characters: zo means "this and that," and ni means "boiled." So zoni literally means "various ingredients boiled together." Each region has its own recipe, but in every case, the ingredients have high nutritional content and are easy to digest.
In western Japan, small round pieces of mochi are cooked by boiling, then they are placed in the soup bowls and the soup is poured on top. The ingredients are generally greens, chicken, and large peeled taro that are served whole or cut into round slices.
In Kyoto, Osaka and surrounding areas, the soup generally has a white miso base. Almost all recipes in eastern Japan use rectangular pieces of mochi grilled until they are lightly browned. Most recipes include a leafy vegetable such as komatsuna, chicken, and kamaboko (fish paste cake). You may cook them separately, because otherwise the bitter taste of the vegetables blends with the stock, and the meat or fish leaves a distinctive odor in the soup. If you use chicken, slice it thin, sprinkle lightly with potato starch, and then dip in boiling water for a moment. This will keep the taste inside and make the soup clear and flavored with soy sauce and salt.

c)  cita una altres celebracions on el mochi ocupi un lloc destacat
For instance in the 11 January, Kagami Biraki (the spirit of the rice) or the Spring feasts in the Hishi Mochi with the diamond-shape cakes, or the spring blossoming of the sherry trees, the Sakura mochi with the sherry-shape leaves.

d)  dimensió simbòlica del  mochi
The ozoni will bring strength and prosperity inb the year to come. In the shape of a mirror kagami mochi, the mochi with dai dai (bitter orange) it represents the longevity.
Cultural note: This culinary tradition apparently began around the mid-1400s, when mochi offered to the gods and Buddha on New Year's Eve (Omisoka, now December 31), was eaten in a soup with other ingredients on the morning of New Year's Day (Gantan, now January 1).


4) Pollastre amb ametlles i gingebre: (annex recepta)
a)   localització (país o regió d’on és més característic el plat)
In the end the scarse information goes to some Southern tastes: the two I record are Szechuanese (Szechuan Chicken: sliced chicken breast cooked with fresh ginger & scallions in hot pepper sauce  > where we have two types of meat here) & Cantonese.
The important bit being the flavoury sauce with the ginger as a compound of the sauce with also garlic – a strong taste indeed-, and the roasted almonds in  a brown ginger garlic sauce. It looks as if the meat is marinated to be properly fried in the wok.
Wor su gai (o Warr Shu Gai) being the Chinese name for ‘Almond Boneless Chicken’ – an especiality that has been well established in the Diaspora (I’ve got somewhere written that was origineated in Detroit!)
Cultural maze: This recipe has been a kind of mystery. Some arcane links pointed out to some Mongolian accents, but lately I read that In history Mongoliand didn’t cook poultry.

b)   el wok. Explica
Among the different cooking tools, we ponder the central presence of the wok due to its shape: a smooth curved surface. First, stewing the food (liquid evaporates very fast) and second the even distribution of heat allows stir-frying the small pices at different timings to perfection. Both point out to a tremendous saving of fuel. The Chinese word being ‘kuo’.

c)    ingredients: salsa de soja. Explica
The simplicity of this ordinary item is not alwasys well understood. Firs, we deal with its nutritional value: - two pounds of soy flour contains approximately the same amount of protein as five pounds of meat (that is, a healthy and inexpensive source of protein). Although it’s a reference in all the eastern region, we can say than China is the paramount region for soy sauce. Originally a salty paste, eventually this developed into two separate products: the liquid soy sauce and miso. From Japan sources we leant the natural method: It takes one year to be pressed to extract the liquid part. In old times, man having preferred rather fish sauce, the usage of soy sauce has become more popular since Muromachi period. The main center of the fabrication is in Chiba prefecture for Kanto style (thick shoyu) while Hyogo prefecture makes Kansai style (thin shoyu). Now I quote:
Today, properly prepared soy sauce is made from soybeans that are mixed with roasted grain (usually wheat, rice, or barley) and fermented for several months. Once the aging process is completed the mixture is strained and bottled. By contrast, synthetically manufactured soys are produced in a matter of days through a hydrolytic reaction and seasoned with corn syrup, caramel coloring, salt and water. They lack the savory flavor of naturally brewed soy and often have a metallic taste.

d)   estris, normes a taula (estris utilitzats per a preparar i/o per a consumir el plat, normes a taula pròpies del lloc d’on és originari
All the ingredients are displayed with its colourful bowls and chopsticks. It’s important to be served lukewarm,
For a quick overview on the differences betwen Kansai and Kanto flavors (3 pages) see: http://www.kippo.or.jp/culture_e/syoku/interview/interview.html



5) Sopa de miso: Aquesta sopa és un dels elements que composen un àpat determinat, que originàriament era vegetarià, però avui dia pot incloure també carn i peix. Aquest àpat està dividit en tres parts. Primer s’ofereix a cada convidat una capsa o safata amb tres plats diferents de verdures, acompanyades d’arròs blanc i sopa de miso.
a)  Localització (país o regió d’on és més característic el plat)
Preferences for one type of miso or another are typically linked to regional identity:
The inhabitants of the southwest provinces of Honshu taste memories are likely to include a steaming bowl of breakfast soup seasoned with winy, caramel-colored, mugi (barley) miso. Those born in Nagoya are probably immersed in recollections of deep, burnished brown Hatcho miso soup afloat with silky cubes of tofu. Natives of Shikoku and the Kansai region, particularly those who grew up in Kyoto and Nara, are no doubt thinking fondly of miso zoni, the New Year's rice taffy porridge that is thickened with pale, creamy-sweet Saikyo miso. Miso soup was originated in Muromachi period, but miso was already eaten in Kamakura period.

b)  ¿de quin àpat es tracta?  Dimensió simbòlica, “sentit” i estructura d’aquest àpat.
The most popular soup in Japan is miso soup. Miso soup is seasoned by miso, which is a salty condiment used often in Japanese cooking. Miso is made from a mixture of soybeans, malted rice, and salt. It takes about 10 months to a year for the mixture to be ready for use.  The basic steps are the following:
·       Prepare Dashi soup stock in a pan and bring to boil. Dashi becomes the base of many Japanese dishes. There are different kinds of dashi. It can be made from konbu (dried kelp), katsuo-bushi (dried bonito flakes), niboshi (dried small sardines), or hoshi-shiitake (dried shiitake mushrooms). The first and the last ones are known as good vegetarian stocks.
·       Add hard ingredients and cook until softened.
·       Put the miso paste in a small bowl and take some dashi soup from the pan and pour over the miso to moisten.
·       Add the miso to the pan and stir gently.
·       Add soft ingredients (such as tofu) and green vegetables and cook for a short time.
·       Turn off the heat before the soup boils.
The soup is served on a board with the three vegetable bowls, white rice and the miso soup.
Nowadays, it’s served as a popular breakfast or as a fastfood with local hanbagu (Japanese hamburger). (UOC matrials unit VI)

c)   Ingredients: el miso. Explica
Miso corresponds to the fermented soja, that comes from the Japanese pronunciation of the Korean word meju
There are many types of miso from different regions in Japan. The color can be darker or lighter, and the taste can be sweeter or saltier. The most common kinds of miso are shiro (white) miso and aka (red) miso. The white varieties aren't really white, but are light yellow and have a sweet taste. The red varieties are dark brown and are salty. Shinsyu miso, which is light brown, is also commonly used.





6) Juk:  S’elabora amb diferents grans. S’afegeix de 6 a 7 vegades aigua de la quantitat de gra i es deixa bullir durant molta estona. Existeixen  moltes varietats de juk, com el juk de pinyons, el juk de sèsam, juk de soja, juk de carabassa...

a)  localització (país o regió d’on és més característic el plat)

Even in Choson Dynasty era of Korean peninsula, 'Juk' porridges along with boiled rice had been wide spread indeed. In China, where it's also known as jook or juk, a gruel of boiled rice and water, serves as a background for a host of other foods. In Thailand this dish is known as khao tom gung.

b)  ¿quotidià o festiu?
It is a common dish eaten by anyone at breakfast time but there are the extraordinary ones: abalone Juk being the most notorius.
The Juk porridges were mainly served in place of breakfasts of the staple foods.
A special one is Tarak Juk, for which rice would be sodden in water, they ground it with a millstone and boiled, and then they added milk to prepare the Juk porridge ('Tarak is a Korean archaic word for milk). This Juk porridge is similar to the cream of wheat among cereals in the Western world.

c)   ¿propietats atribuïdes?
Sometimes a delicacy, sometimes a restorative. Pine nuts, red beans, pumpkin, abalone, ginseng, chicken, vegetables, mushrooms and bean sprouts are the most popular ingredients. And some fulfill several roles concurrently.

When someone has to recover from an illness, he or she requires highly nutritional intake such as 'Juk' porridges as they are easily digested and heighten the nutrition.  Some examples would be ginseng-chicken Juk, for a student preparing for an examination and children requiring high nutrition as well as for the old and the weak; or the pine nut Juk porridge which helps regain strength and appetite. Other than that, people frequently use the mung bean 'Juk' as a healing diet for its effect on lowering body's fever; Abalone Juk porridge is a superb food for those who are pregnant, obese, suffering from hepatic cirrhosis and hepatitis.











7) Dimsum: main source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dim_sum

a)  localització (país o regió d’on és més característic el plat)
Many South-eastern Chinese restaurants start serving very early in the morning at around 6 am. It is a tradition for the elderly to gather to eat dim sum after morning exercises, often enjoying the morning newspapers.
This eating tradition originated in China hundreds of years ago. It is said to have started along the Silk Road where farmers, laborers and travelers often stopped at roadside teahouses to have afternoon tea, regain sustenance and relax, an olden days version of the local neighborhood bar. In the third century AD, Hua To, a highly respected Imperial physician, advised that eating food while drinking tea would cause excessive weight gain. But the Cantonese in southern China disregarded that advice and turned the quiet and unexciting teahouse into a loud and lively eating experience, which is also how the term "yum cha" (to drink tea) became synonymous with consuming dim sum. Since the 10th century, about 2000 different varieties of dim sum have been created, with up to 100 kinds offered on any given day in the larger restaurants. Though dim sum is a Cantonese word, the idea of a wide variety of small dishes for lunch also holds for other regions of China. Therefore, the terms "Northern dian xin" or "Shanghai dian xing" have come into use.
In some countries, such as Britain and Australia, the term "dim sum" (or more commonly "dim sim") is incorrectly used to refer specifically to Chinese-style dumplings, either steamed or deep-fried. They are often available at snack bars, even those with no other eastern food on the menu.
b)  ¿en què consisteix?
Dim sum 點心 (Cantonese: tɪm²sɐ, Mandarí: diǎnxīn;  literally dot heart or order heart, meaning order to one's heart's content; also commonly translated as touch the heart, dotted heart, or snack). It is usually a light meal, eaten sometime from morning-to-early afternoon with family or friends.
For many southerners in China, yum cha is treated as a weekend family day. Consistent with this tradition, dim sum restaurants typically only serve dim sum until the afternoon. Nowadays, various dim sum items are sold in a takeaway manner for students and office workers' on the go.




8) Tempura:

a)  localització
It has become a Japanese speciality. At this point I found some ‘authoritative forum’ which stated that: “There is no clear definition of Kanto or Kansai. Generally speaking, Kanto includes Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba, Saitama, Gunma, Ibaraki, and Tochigi, while Kansai includes Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo, Shiga, Nara, and Wakayama.The point is that the center of Kanto is Tokyo and that of Kansai is Osaka.”
Kanto vs. Kansai, Differences in food culture http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=55376
The deep fried fish paste patties that go into oden are called tempura in Kansai and ‘—ten? (the ‘—‘ being the name of whatever is inside, ie gobo-ten) in Kanto.

b)  ¿en què consisteix?
This dish consists of some batter-dipped, deep-fried pieces of fish, seafood or vegetables. Tempura, which is usually accompanied by soy sauce, can be served as an Hors D'oeuvre, first course or entrée with a dipping sauce and daikon.

c)    Orígens i evolució
This dish dates from the mid-16th century, whenPortuguese and Spanish culture was first introduced to Japan Tempura comes from the the Portuguese 'tempero'/ Spanish ‘témpora’ a time of fast in Christian belief so that the missionaries had to eat fish. To learn more we can reaad this:
On Catholic holy days, when consumption of red meat was forbidden, the Portuguese traders ate deep-fried shrimp. Because holy days came four times a year, they were referred to in Latin as "Quattuor Tempora".
The Japanese adapted the Portuguese recipe for frying foods and perfected it through the centuries. The Latin word for ‘time’ became the Japanese word "tempura", meaning fried shrimp.  (source> http://allearsnet.com/menu/men_teml.htm)

It was seasoned, spiced, and from there stems the origin. Tempura can be served with a side bowl of rice and soup or on a bowl of rice (tendon) or noodles (tempura udon, tempura soba).

Cultural note: The word has been recorded as テンプラ in the hiragana syllabary, the one used for native words. The Nihon Kokugo Daijiten (Shogakukan) lists ‘tempura’ (te-n-pu-ra) in katakana as correspondent to a foreign portuguese loanword.

d)  ¿quotidià/festiu, elit/popular?
Tempura, which is usually accompanied by soy sauce, can be served as an hors d’oeuvre, first course or entrée.
In Japan, eateries specializing in tempura are called "Tempura-ya" and range from inexpensive fast food outlets to highly revered and very expensive five-star restaurants. Many restaurants offer tempura as part of a set meal or a bento (lunch box).
Tempura is also used in combination with other foods. When served over buckwheat noodles, it is called tennsoba. Tenzaru (天笊), which is tempura atop a mound of cold buckwheat noodles, is perfect during Japan's rainy season or summer. Tempura is also served as a donburi dish where tempura shrimp and vegetables are served over steamed rice in a bowl.


9) Chajangmyeon:
a)  localització
The spelling gives the clear hint of being a Korean word, but the Google searches were not fruitful. Chajangmyeon/ Jja Jang Myeong/Ja Jang Myeong
The birthplace of Chajangmyeon is Gonghwachun, which became famous of this  specialty and spread by other Chinese eateries. Nowasays can be eaten anywhere along the north of China and Korea, and the diaspora restaurants abroad.
The current Korean version of Ja Jang Myeong is much sweeter than the Chinese version (which is quite bitter). The taste can be enhanced with a mixiture of one-year-old soybean paste and a fresh one. Some places offers big lump and strips of the materials in chajangmyeon which make it easy to pick up with chopsticks.
   b) ¿actual/tradicional?
The Chinese migrants had such a nice business during the First World War making the street 'home of Chinese food'.
The birth of Chajangmyeon, the favorite of Koreans, is rather humble. The Chinese gathered in the street after the Korean port opening, so did Chinese restaurants. They invented a cheap and simple dish for the harbor labor, Chajangmyeon, noodles with fried soybean paste.
But a current change occurred in Korea lately.

c)   ¿dimensió simbòlica?
Jja-jang myeon (짜장면), Korean-Chinese noodles with black bean sauce (hence the name) are eaten on ‘Black Day’.
On April 14 in South Korea there is an informal tradition for single people to get together and eat noodles with black bean sauce to celebrate Black Day. This day interplays with two other 14 days, White Day and Valentine’s Day, as Sarah Phelan wrote:
Feb. 14 in Korea is the day girls give chocolate to the guys--including male co-workers, friends and love interests. In other words, the number of chocolates a man receives reflects his popularity, or lack of it. Ouch. The guys get their turn a month later on March 14, which is called White Day, because the men are expected to give white gifts of chocolates, candy, marshmallows or cookies to the girls they fancy. Unlike the women, the men do not have to give presents to other women, such as their mothers, in their lives, nor are they required to give gifts to the women whom they're not interested in. Double ouch.
All of which brings us to the very goth-sounding Black Day, which takes place April 14, when singles who got totally left out of the chocolate-candy-gift-exchange-comparison frenzy get together at a Chinese restaurant to eat "black noodles" (noodles in a black bean sauce) and drink, all the while bitching about how it sucks to be without a mate, not to mention chocolate.  Found at  http://www.metroactive.com/papers/cruz/02.11.04/black-day-0407.html
The idea is that those who didn't give or receive gifts on previous 14  days, can get together and eat Jja-jang myeon to accept their unwanted singledom!

Food Culture in Yu shi nan nu (Eat, Drink, Man, Woman) by Ang Lee


Food Culture in Yu shi nan nu  (Eat, Drink, Man, Woman) 
Sinòpsi: 
1- ¿Quins trets de l’alimentació que apareixen a la pel·lícula podem considerar que són comuns a les cuines de l’Àsia  oriental? 
A. Estris, tècniques i textures  B. funcions “metagastronòmiques”
c. La cultura del beure 
D - la vessant estètica de l’alimentació
2- Seleccionar  3  productes dels que apareixen a la pel·lícula.: Rice, Salt, Ginger
3- En un moment de la pel·lícula es fa referència a les propietats afrodisíaques dels aliments.
Explicar el paper de l’alimentació a la medicina tradicional xinesa.
4- A la pel·lícula es fa referència a les transformacions recents en l’àmbit de l’alimentació.
5- Quins serien, al vostre parer, les principals diferències/aspectes comuns- entre la cultura alimentària a la pel·lícula i la del vostre entorn sociocultural.

(Eat, Drink, Man, Woman) -Taiwan, 1994, Dir. Ang Lee, 109 Min.
Enjoy yourself. It's later than you think
 


1- ¿Quins trets de l’alimentació que apareixen a la pel·lícula podem considerar que són comuns a les cuines de l’Àsia  oriental? 
Governing a great nation is like cooking a small fish
- too much handling will spoil it."
Lao Tzu
      A. Estris, tècniques i textures 
Cooking devices. The division of the space shows us the importance of every detail:
Outside the house: the poultry in the cage. Besides, we can see a large section outside with all the ceramic containers (about 20: small and large vessels that can keep anykind of food preserved) … for a small family of four!
Inside the house, pans (sauce-pans, frying-pans, deep-pans) casseroles, etc.
In the kitchen proper a professional table with a line of fire area where we see three ring fires. On the side wall a perfect rack with three lines of cutting tools: From an axe to large blades, to wide chopping knives with pronged ends, sharp shapes, ans do on. I counted above forty! Sure you can do anything with such weaponry.  
The cooking tools can be very basic items:  a wok, bamboo baskets, a rice cookery, a gass ring to heat the wok, a thick chopping board and a spatula.

Cooking techniques. The paramount feature seemed to me the time devouted in the running time to chop everything in small, uniform pieces. The range of cutting devices is justified.
Then the cooking uses little fat and taste comes from a wide range of spices or seasonings. About this I kept the record of a dialogue where daughter and father discuss the taste of a soup (the ingredient is irrelevant right now):
What's wrong?" she says.                                                "Nothing, it's delicious. Yet..." Chu continues.
"What?"                                                                        Too much, and its effect is ruined."
"I disagree. It's not too much. You're too timid with it."            "I'm certainly not."
"Don't boss me around."                                                            "I'm not. It was a minor criticism about a slight taste of
 too much of it”
We can see so many ways of cooking: boiling, simmering, smoking the meatballs in the barrel, adding hot fish to the fish, etc. Among them the central presence of the wok due to its shape: a smooth curved surface. First, stewing the food (liquid evaporates very fast) and second the even distribution of heat allows stir-frying the small pices at different timings to perfection. Both point out to a tremendous saving of fuel. The Chinese word being ‘kuo’. For a taste of simplicity at the end of the film Jia-Chien is preparing pancakes on a metal plank with a big dough in her hand while she manages to answer a phone call.
Not surprisingly the director Ang Lee employed three full time chefs.

Textures. From the three classic features: colours, tastes and textures, we may start with the words of chef Chu: ‘for me, texture is everything’.  Enough said.
To exemplify this part other ingredients are added to texture and flavor coated in a uniform and firm sauce. The variety of sauces shares mostly a thick quality. The preparation of soya sauces is easily preserved is boiled when made into curd and its starch is important to add texture to the plates. 
Sweet and Sour Sauce is a popular condiment to serve with deep-fried dishes. We see a close-up in the first scene pouring it over a roasted meat in a bowl to achieve the right crispy texture that enhances the taste.

B. funcions “metagastronòmiques”      
Is it not delightful to have friends coming from distant quarters?
Confucius
We don’t see much of the moral or religious functions in the film. The relevant ones are the social ones: ad intram et ad extram the family. To remark the differences we must remember that Chef Chu has gained respect as a leading chef in Taipei, but his exhuberant dishes don’t get any response from his grown daughters who eat with carelessness and unimportance the superb food as we will see. 
As Lee said in an interview to Moviemaker in 2001 “the humble daughters can accept anything till an outburst moment, then there is chaos, and after the dust settles we have harmony again”. As a result, every Sunday reunion ends in more things falling apart. Things are boiled up and on the go three marriages and a funeral later will show the Chu family that life is unpredictable.
Ad intram.
B1. Family bonds.  I quote the father's definition of a family: "All under one roof, leading separate lives, still we worry for each other. This worry, that's what makes us a family …”
The ‘family’ word in Chinese jia gets the radical for pig on the left and everything under one roof. This character is shared by the Korean and Japanese neighbours.
In Japanese ie ‘significa casa, però s’acostuma a traduir com a ‘familia’ o ‘llar’ fent referència a la gent que hi viu com al mar físic’ (material uoc: Família i gènere –mòdul 3)
Chu is superb at preparing meals, but his communication skills with his beloved daughters are nul. Unable to speak his mind he cooks every Sunday to have something to hold to although one daughter call it “ritual torture. Then in another scene we hear “how many more dinners can we stand?”
B2. communication-through-food. What the daughters need to hear most are often the things that Chu find hardest to say, and vice versa. The second daughter, Jia-Chien, comments that the neighbors difference in kinship communication:
 Jia-Jen: "Can't they stop that karaoke"?
 Jia-Chien: "We communicate by eating. They do it by singing."
In another scene Jia-Chien recalls the nostalgy of the kitchen during her childhood to her friend Raymond's: “everything goes with smells and tastes … so that I go back to my infancy when I start cooking’.

Ad extram.
Friendship. The team-spirit that can be at the restaurant between Chu and his loyal friends, the old Chen and the owner. The latter, still reluctant of Chu’s negative to go back to work with him snaps: ‘If you are thinking of opening a rival restaurant in town ... then I will go with you’. The old Chen says once ‘You're still the greatest chef in Taipei. Like that composer…Beethoven.’  We quickly know he is become Chu’s other half in the cooking business (as we will see below).
At the school where Jen-chian works there is the karaoke scene, everyone accepted, everyone invited.

c. La cultura del beure (la pel·lícula amb les explicacions del mòdul)
Tea tempers the spirit, harmonizes the mind, dispels lassitude
and relieves fatigue, awakens the thought and prevents drowsiness.
Lu Yu, The Classic Art of Tea
 
Just like such daily necessities as rice and salt (see next section), liquor also has a close relationship with people's lives.There a couple of moments where the spirits play an important role, and an accepted one, in society:
Chef Chu uses the drinks to escape the sober state of a household where it seems he can not get merriment anymore. Only his friend can understand him. At the end of the after-hours supper with some white wine they are walking holding by the shoulders and philosophising about life.
The other one is the last anouncement, where the father follows a strict rule of drinking one round with every single party, four in all: three daughters (plus sons-in-law) and neighbours.
The alcohol’s effect on her father is for Jia-Chien the cause of his ‘strange behaviour’.
This yellow liquor may well be the rice wine (Shaoxing wine) probably the most popular Chinese spirit.

Circumstancially, there are a variety of situations where intimately the two characters talk round a cup of tea. The elder sister, Jen-Chien with Jin Ron, the neighbour; Jia-Chien with his colleague Li Kai. The only difference is Jia-Ning with his friend when while visiting his house they drink cold plain water.
At the Karaoke, the soft drinks and water, keep the school joined beyond age differences.

D - la vessant estètica de l’alimentació 
The way you cut your meat reflects the way you live.


In the film we appreciate the succesful efforts of Jong Lin, the camerawork, to display the food in a palette of colours (and guess the tastes!). Two anecdotical details of the aesthetics, so important in a film: Pei Mei, a famous Chinese chef, served as a consultant and the first cooking scene was shot in a full week.
The father cooks elaborate dishes with enough food to serve 20 people which cover the large dining table. Every time the surface is akwardly covered by a large display of bowls, china plates, 
At the swift opening scene Chu disguises some dissolving shark’s fins into a gorgeous ‘Dragon head playing in the sea’ to the perfect satisfaction of the clients.
About the art of displaying a colourful dish I rememeber three recipes:
·      ‘Steamed deer spare ribs with ginger in a pumpkin pot’,
·      the lovely surface of ‘Lotus flower soup’, and
·      ‘Chicken wrapped in clay’.
At the last family reunion we see the ornamental and careful designs of the cut-out pieces of vegetables that acompany the main courses: a white lobster and an orange parrot. 
The last piece I recollect here is the breadrings that made such a deep impression in  Jia-Chien at an early age: she could become a princess. The magic of food.
 
 
2- Seleccionar  3  productes dels que apareixen a la pel·lícula.
 
To the ruler, the people are heaven; to the people, food is heaven.
ancient Chinese proverb

My choice went to Mi, Lu & Chiang (Rice, Salt and Ginger). My inspiration came from the famous poet Su Dong Po who loved pork, and apparently created this recipe:
Dong Po Pork
Pork with soy sauce (salt here), ginger and spring onion for up to five hours, until it is as soft as butter. I have tried to recreate the dish as I ate it in Shanghai; soft, gooey and irresistibly rich. Serve it with a platter of Chinese cabbage or on a bed of beansprouts quickly tossed with oil, ginger and Chinese rice wine, along with plenty of rice to soak up the juices.

Rice. In China, the history of rice in river valleys and low-lying areas is longer that its history as a dryland crop. Rice was introduced to Japan no later than 100 B.C.
Its significance is clearly revealed in Culture. In China, the deadliest of all insults is to up a bowl of someone else’s rice and spill it on the ground. From the language side, it represents the very foundation: the word for ‘rice’ (mi) can also be the one for ‘eat’ (shi) the one we find in the title. Likewise when somewhere in the East Asian region you hear: ‘Have you eaten steamed rice today?’ ‘steamed rice’ stands for ‘meal’. Incidentally, to compare basic with non basic- we eat rice (mostly as a ‘paella’ dish) nowadays -perhaps a derivation from the Arabic ‘baiyya’ (what is left). Not the same thing.  
Rice is implicit and not specially shown in the lavish scenes, but always present, as the proverb states: “A meal without rice is like a beautiful woman with only one eye.”
Ginger. This perennal herb can show a remarkable record in Chinese culture important as spices but as medicines as well. As a condiment ginger has got a larger presence than any other spice or seasoning. Valued for its clean, sharp flavor, ginger is used in soups, stir-fries, and marinades.  It is especially good with seafood, as it can cover up strong fish odors.
It played a crucial role in the last scene (see dialogue above) where was the flavoring ingredient in a dish seasoning taste. Its usage is common on the East (China, Japan and Korea) and also in the South-east. My best source came from foodtimeline.org (I quote generously):
In modern China,  people single out the root of young ginger...for its delicate flavor, absence or  near absence of fibers, and thinner skiin that that of mature ginger. Young  gingerroot may be pickled, preserved in other ways, or employed as a spice, and  is ordinarily used in larger amouts thatn mature ginger...Grated gingerroot,  with sesame oil and sugar, may be made into a condiment. Gingerroot may be included in sauces and marinades,...It may be made into a sweet. (from Dangerous Tastes: The Story of Spices, Andrew  Dalby -2000 (p. 21-22))

Salt. The presence of Salt in Chinese cuisine shall not be overlooked. It’s the essential condiment throughout its long history where sprinkling salt directly on food was too expensive. Usually it has been added with salt-based sauces and pastes. We know the role of salt in history (the famous silkroute was mostly salt!). The Romans left us with some basic words (salary, soldier <payed with ‘soldada’ =salt>). It was the basic tax paid by everyone to the rulers and the main source of the Han and Tang Empire. When in debt… go to salt as the Revolutionary Chinese Government did in 1913 to secure a huge International credit. In modern Italy it is sold in ‘Sale e tabacco’ shops.
As R. Worf wrote on the impressive Mark Kurlansky’s Salt: A World History:
Nothing exhibits the infinite variety of the human experience better than the way different cultures struggle with a similar problem, such as how to find and produce salt on a large scale.
Kurlasnsky tells us about all this and more. From the recipes I selected the ubiquous how jiangyou (soy sauce) came in:
Fish fermented in salt was one of the most popular salt condiments in ancient China -called jiang. Soybeans were added to ferment with the fish, and in time the fish was dropped altogether from the recipe and jiang became jiangyou.  
(to read the first chapter: A Mandate of Salt go to www.bookbrowse.com/excerpts/index.cfm?book_number=960)
The gourmet Zhu Ziye confessed once his culinary secrets with other cooks and everybody agreed  that the the simplest yet the most difficult thing about cooking  was not "choosing the ingredients" or the art of "chopping" but to do-the adding of salt”. The old Wen has to do this difficult task. He is chef Chu tongue to choose if it is palatable. The only time ‘salt’ is mentioned in the film is when ‘do not add salt to the fish’.


3- En un moment de la pel·lícula es fa referència a les propietats afrodisíaques dels aliments.
Explicar el paper de l’alimentació a la medicina tradicional xinesa.

The one that takes medicine and neglects diet, wastes the skills of the physician.

Chinese medicine foundations go back to yin and yang principles. Arcane sages thought of a correspondence between cosmos and body and interweave them to as a sign of mutual interplay and restraint. This model of balance defines the opposing, yet complementary sides of nature towards warm and hot elements.
To express them we could go to any Chinese dish as in the film duck-oil sauteed pea sprout. There is always a balance in color, flavors, and textures. We have to eat with a healthy balance between the two which means more things come to play. Ingredients ate not 100% pure and we have to consider the importance of balance and contrast between foodstuff in each dish. Besides, cooking methods also have more of a yin or yang property: Yin qualities mostly in boiling, poaching and steaming and Yang qualities in deep-frying, roasting and stir-frying. When changing diet habits doesn’t work, we can go to medicines. In the Japanese lands there is the legend about rice that if soaking before cooking releases life energy and gives the eater a more powerful soul.
I will quote Jia-Chien comments when at her friend Raymond's, "I felt like cooking…It's ancient philosophy. Food balance with energy, flavor and nature. . . . This is duck-oil sauteed pea sprout. One duck--two dishes with two flavors. Hot and cold. A perfect balance."
In traditional Chinese medicine, proper food is the first defence line and an important factor for good health. The pace of the film is as rapid as the final meal preparations, in keeping with Chinese custom of serving everything quickly and as fresh as possible. The foodstuff consists of small morsels that reach the mouth with the chopsticks so that can be chewed slowly. Slowfood and saliva: good for your body.
   
The basic natural needs for survival are sex and food. The very expression of them is as old as literature. In the script is superbly portraited in an overlapped guise twice. The first one in an eliptic way in the opening scene Jian-Chien is making love with his friend and his father is in the kitchen blowing a chicken balloon. Sex and kitchen. No transitions. Lovely. The second one is a way of stating the foundations of the film as we listen in this dialogue:
Old Wen: "Good sound is not in the ear, good taste is not in the mouth, and good sex . . .
                    God knows where…"
Chu:    "Eat, drink, man, woman. Food and sex. Basic human desires. Can't avoid them."
Chef Chu links the concepts and I guess it refers that love is a driving force anytime, anywhere. Age is not an unsurmontable problem and the title Yu shi nan nu comes from  a Chinese proverb that that expresses fond wishes for the continuation of life in a very taosist way. The English have a proverb that says “we are what we eat” and another that what for someone is food for another person is poison”.
All over the film we have been learning of the passion for both sides on Chu’s life. So we can accept some symbolism when chef Chu lost his sense of taste and surprisingly regained only in the last scene of the film. I guess it shows his appetite for life is unrequisted with age.
"What about my soup?"
"Your soup, Jia-Chien...I taste it. I can taste it."
"You can taste?"
"I taste it. Some more, please. Daughter."
"Father."
4- A la pel·lícula es fa referència a les transformacions recents en l’àmbit de l’alimentació.
Preserve the old, but know the new.
I will start with Mr. Chu's insightful observation:
"People today don't appreciate the exquisite art of cooking. After forty years of Chinese food in Taiwan, the art is lost. Food from everywhere merges like rivers running into the sea. Everything tastes the same!"
There are obviously some changes in traditional Chinese society (values and customs).  Several types of cooking are represented:
Professional: in the beginning we watch the restaurant at a banquet for hundreds in Honour of the son of the Governor .
Glamourous scene that ofers sharp contrast with the younger daughter, Jia-Ning, serving French fries in Wendy, a fastfood outlet!
Next, in an early scene, he takes little neighbor Shanshan her lunch box at elementary school with her so we are confronted with the business of school catering, a new way of offering cheap menus.
Home. The quick pace of modern life in urban Taipei. We can consider the preparation of breakfast for children. Shanshan has left home without a rich ingestion of food to meet the demands of school life and isgoing to eat in the bus. Old Chu gets surprised. He must remember his copious breakfast at home at early days. And he is told that Shanshan best friend does not bring the lunchbox because her mum forgets very often!
There some times when we see characters enjoying a normal meal. Jia shen cooks to relax from a hard day at work with her friend. In another case she goes back to her infancy to steam off from work pressure with a superb meal.

5- Quins serien, al vostre parer, les principals diferències/aspectes comuns- entre la cultura alimentària a la pel·lícula i la del vostre entorn sociocultural.

Cutting stalks at noon time, Perspiration drips to the earth.
Know you that your bowl of rice, Each grain from hardship comes?
Cheng Chan-Pao, Chinese philosopher

The heart of the movie is not the cooking, although it is worth seeing the movie to watch it.
First of all, some sense of naturality. I could see myself reflected in the setting and perhaps accept that the characters don’t live up to Eastern Asian stereotypes. They go
after different zests for life, but share a general lack of appetite for life. We see how Chu has lost his sense of taste, and his daughters just want to go on with their separate, lonely lives. We accept the complexities of modern life, that change is the essence of life and the necessity for a balance in our hectic-paced lives.
We have seen a great array of characters, diversity of eateries, how we can survive with the very minimum (as in Confucius saying: ‘Coarse rice for food, water to drink, and the bended arm for a pillow - happiness may be enjoyed even in these.’). As in any place on Earth, writing on culinary issues will change things (or ‘cook rice’ in more Chinese terms).
The more striking differences were that all the food is almost available to all people and you take what you eat. The lack of forks and knives at the table and the dexterity of chopsticks (I’m still at the starter level here). Food tends to be fresh and the taste enhanced by spices with a rich texture. Perhaps that is why we always go back to our favourite Chines restaurant:  memories of powerful taste.

I will center now on some common features while watching the film:
My mother is a perfect cook (she ran succesfully a ‘tapas bar’ for 9 years) and could not pass a mere 10% of her kwoledge to any of her children. On food as in life we may accept Confucius saying: ‘Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance."
I can also recall some ‘paellas’ –our family meetings- with similar ingredients of boredom and incommunication. To think back as how much ‘family communion’ around the table has changed in all this years make me smile right now.
The disparity of societies can be also eliminated when we go to gender differences. My cousin Maribel was at 17 in a difficult decision as on which way she could follow her life roadmap. She wanted to be a chef.  To no avail. No-one in her family supported her: medicine was her way out in the end. I see how it matches perfectly the dialogue between Old Wen and Jia-Chien:
Wen: "How quickly you learned everything! What a talent, eh, Chu?"
Jia-Chien: "Til you exiled me from the kitchen."
Wen: "And you learned to do something serious with your life!"
Jia-Chien: "A woman can't be a real chef?"
Wen: "Yes, you could have become one of the greats. But your father was right to
 encourage you in your studies. Now look, such a success! You owe it all to
your father for throwing you out of our smelly old kitchen and keeping you on
the right path!"
Jia-Chien: "No one asked me what I wanted!"


To sum up, to learn about new peoples, is to learn about ourselves. I remember a curious proverb: "If you are planning for a year, sow rice; if you are planning for a decade, plant trees; if you are planning for a lifetime, educate people."

=== the end ===