There is a concept of “食补” (shi bu) in China, which means food treatment approach or using food as medicine.
Some of them are really interesting. Like if you hurt your ankle, then you need to have trotter. As the saying goes, what part of animal you have will do well to the same part of your body. Another saying is some food look like our human bodies, and they are good for the part they look like. For example, black soy beans look like kidneys, so they are good for kidneys. Walnuts look like human brain, they are indeed good for human brain.
Many people in China know the saying ” medicine is always 30% poisonous”. It’s an exaggerating way to express that medicine always has potential side effect. So many Chinese people prefer to have natural food and get nutrient substance they need instead of taking medicine when they are not seriously sick. They will certainly seek for doctors’ help when they really need.
Over centuries, Chinese people have got methods of food treatment for many common illness. Each ingredient is considered to have its own property. Mutton belongs to “hot”, that’s why it’s a good choice in autumn and winter. Bitter gourd belongs to “cold”, so when you feel very hot inside your body or have oral ulcer, bitter gourd will be helpful.
Chinese food treatment is kind of like philosophy of yin and yang.
In Chinese we have a saying that “早餐要吃好，午餐要吃饱，晚餐要吃少”，which means we must have a good breakfast, a full lunch and eat less at dinner. Clearly breakfast is the most important meal in a day.
Actually, there are quite a lot of differences between eastern and western food culture. When I was in China, most of my breakfast were soybean milk, fried dough stick, porridge, steamed stuff bun, or noodles, etc. After I lived with my husband, my eating habit started changing. Now most of my breakfast are bread, cookies, and toast. My husband has a sweet tooth, but I don’t. So I have to figure out a solution between us.
My mom’s cooking has a great influence on me. Stir frying is a very common in Chinese cuisine. My mom is a typical Chinese housewife. She can stir fry almost everything. That’s her cooking theory. She’s also good at making new match between meat and vegetable. After so many years of being a housewife, she’s kind of tired of creating new dishes. I understand her after married. Sometimes, I get home exhausted and really don’t want to try a new recipe.
At first, I copied my mom’s theory. Stir fry pork with vegetables. That’s very simple and quick for me, cos I don’t even need to think. I just know it goes that way. Gradually, I find it interesting when I try new recipes which are not just stir frying. No matter it is Chinese cuisine, Japanese, or Western. I can always find new things to try. I think that’s the charm of cooking.
Another reason for I love cooking, I think is that it makes me very concentrated. I don’t know why but when I cook something, I stay very focused, like I’m the only person in the world. I can forget everything outside the kitchen. Cooking to me is not just a magic combination of different kinds of ingredients. It’s also a way to convey my concern and feelings. I want whoever eats the food I cook to feel the concern and love from me. I would be like a student in a test and ask my husband after his first bite “does it taste ok?” Or “do you like it?”. He will put on a big smile with thumps up and say ” very good” in an exaggerating way even when the food tastes not that good. I know I will never fail his test and that makes me want to improve to higher level and to cook better.