What came first the soybean or tofu?

January 16, 2019

The answer to the question in the title is simple. Soybeans came first. Tofu-making was first recorded during China’s Han dynasty more than 2,000 years ago. Chinese legend credits its invention to Prince Liu An (179–122 BC).

We learn from Soya.be that “Soybeans originate from China. In 2853 BC, Emperor Sheng-Nung of China named five sacred plants – soybeans, rice, wheat, barley, and millet. Soybean plants were domesticated between 17th and 11th century BC in the eastern half of China where they were cultivated into a food crop.”

And Eating China reports, “But while those ancient farmers had discovered a new food source, only their descendants, almost 1,000 years in the future would begin to fully understand the nutritional value of the soybean. The long history of domestication resulted in a great variety of upright hardy soy plants that do well in a wide range of soil and weather conditions. The main types of soybeans are categorized by seed color: green, black and by far the most common, yellow, the variety that inspired the bean’s other name, Yellow Legume, Huang Dou.” …

“Making soy milk was one of the early methods. Soy milk is nothing more than a milky liquid that results from boiling and mashing whole beans, so we can assume that it was not long before soy milk was ‘invented.’ Initially it may have been eaten as bean meal soup. Even today in China soy milk remains a drink that is processed and consumed in simple ways, though it is often sweetened and occasionally salted.”

I can attest that fresh soy milk in China is much better than most soy milk you buy in supermarkets in the United States. When visiting China, I get up early to go to the nearest market that makes fresh soy juice and buy it without sugar or sweetener added. There is no comparison. It’s warm. It’s fresh. It’s China. It’s different from the genetically altered, American, factory-farmed soy juice sold in American markets. That stuff is “yuk” and I don’t touch it.

I’ve even made tofu chocolate pie at home. The Chinese invented tofu, but I was introduced to Chocolate Tofu Pie at Mother’s Market in Costa Mesa, California. Then I figured out how to make it at home by experimenting. You may find the recipe HERE.

Then there is stinky tofu, another of my favorites. When visiting Nanjing Road in Shanghai between People Square and the Bund, we always stop at the same shop, and I order deep fried, fresh chou dofu (stinky tofu) with peppercorn sauce that’s spicy hot enough to make me sweat.

Medical News Today.com says, “Tofu is made from soybean curds. It is naturally gluten-free and low in calories. It contains no cholesterol and is an excellent source of iron and calcium.” It is also an important source of protein, especially for vegans and vegetarians. “It also contains isoflavones such as phytoestrogens. Isoflavones may have both estrogen-agonist or estrogen-antagonist properties. These may help protect against some cancers, heart disease, and osteoporosis.”

Then there are the health benefits from soybean sprouts. Livestrong.com says, “Even though you can sprout seeds from any type of bean, the two most common types are mung bean and soybean sprouts, according to the University of Florida IFAS Extension. Bean sprouts give you an easy way to boost the nutrients in your diet. Toss them onto your salad, use them in a sandwich or add them to soups and casseroles, and you’ll quickly increase the amount of protein, B vitamins and vitamin C.”

In fact, the Chinese learned how to sprout beans on their sailing ships to protect Chinese sailors from scurvy long before the west discovered that vitamin C prevented the disease. Our Everyday Life.com says, “Soy bean sprouts, which are germinated soy beans, have been used for human consumption for more than 5,000 years.” Just one of the benefits: “Soy bean sprouts provide the B vitamin, folate, which is essential for the synthesis of DNA and red blood cells. One cup of raw soy bean sprouts has 120mcg of folate. Adults need 400mcg of folate daily, according to the National Academies’ Institute of Medicine. Soy bean sprouts are also a source of vitamin C and pantothenic acid.”

Soy bean sprouts were not the only source of vitamin C for ancient Chinese sailors. Asian cultures have relied on fermented cabbage to survive long winters between fruit seasons for thousands of years. Kimchi, sauerkraut’s Korean cousin, was historically used during winter to stave off vitamin deficiencies, while early records show workers building the Great Wall of China ate fermented cabbage regularly when fruit was not available.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

Where to Buy

Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

About iLook China

Advertisements

Winter Fun in China

January 2, 2019

The annual winter Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival (January 5 – February 5) was first celebrated in 1963 and is now the largest ice and snow festival in the world. The average temperature is a (minus) – 16.8 degrees Celsius or 1.76 Fahrenheit. On the Fahrenheit scale, the freezing point of water is 32 degrees, so the cold is below frigid.

“Traditionally, the Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival open around Dec 24-25 and lasts to the end of February. But its official opening ceremony is usually held on January 5th each year.” According to IceFestivalHarbin.com, if you plan to visit, avoid February 4 – 10, 2019, and escape the crush during the Chinese New Year that is based on the lunar calendar.

The annual Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival was first held in 1963, but it was interrupted during Mao’s Cultural Revolution. Mao died in 1976, and it took time for China’s economic engine to recover. The fact that the festival resumed in 1985 was an early sign of the changes soon to take place in China.

Since 1985, China has transformed itself by rebuilding the old cities while building more than a hundred new ones in addition to the explosion of a middle class that equals or surpasses the entire population of the United States with plans to double that middle class in the next decade or two.

China has also crisscrossed the country with new highways and railroads that include more high speed rail than the rest of the world combined. China has also built more than 500 new airports while America’s airports are way overdue for an upgrade along with the rest of U.S. infrastructure that is out of date and falling apart. In fact, Money reports the U.S. is ranked #28 for average mobile internet speed.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

Where to Buy

Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

About iLook China


China gets to celebrate a New Year Twice

December 26, 2018

In China it’s possible to celebrate the New Year twice in the same year in different months on different days.

While the Gregorian calendar celebrates the New Year on January 1st of every year, the Chinese Lunar New Year falls on February 5th (Tuesday) 2019, and the festival will last to February 19th, about 15 days in total.

2019 is the Year of the Pig according to the Chinese zodiac.

Chinese years are counted in a repeating twelve-year sequence, each year symbolized by an animal: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig.

In 2018, the Lunar New Year started on February 16th.


Chinese New Year Dragon Dance – Shanghai Disneyland – Shanghai Disney Resort

The Chinese Lunar New Year is defined as the second new moon after the winter solstice; thus it begins sometime between late January and mid-February, approximately at the beginning of Spring (which, in the Chinese calendar, starts forty-five days after the winter solstice). It is celebrated not only in China, but also in Korea, Vietnam (where it is known as Tet), and in Chinese communities around the world.

China established its calendar systems as far back as the 14th century B.C. Shang Dynasty, and over the centuries that calendar was modified and adjusted, but they were always based on calculations of the positions of sun and moon, and even the earliest records have the Chinese New Year beginning at a new moon near the winter solstice.

Since the months of the Chinese calendar are derived from the lunar cycle, which lasts 29.53 days on average, its months are either 29 or 30 days long. Like the Western calendar, the Chinese calendar’s ordinary year has 12 months, but a leap year, every two or three years, adds an extra 13th month. The ordinary year in the Chinese calendar runs between 353 and 355 days, but during a leap year it runs 383 to 385 days.


Shanghai’s New Year’s Eve on December 31, 2017

The Western calendar is a solar calendar based on the Earth’s revolution of the sun and the progression of seasons. Consequently, every month has the same number of days from year to year, except during a leap year.

The Western Gregorian calendar is a modification of the Julian calendar, introduced by Julius Cesar in 45 B.C.

If you are curious how the months were named for the Gregorian calendar, here’s a hint – January through December were not based on the zodiac like China’s Lunar calendar was. Click this link to Wonderpolis.org to discover how each month for this calendar got their names. One example: July was named after Julius Caesar in 44 B.C. Previously, July was called “Quintilis,” which is Latin for “fifth.”

Was this one of the reasons why Cesar was assassinated?

With the exception of February, each month in the Western calendar has 30 or 31 days, and there are 12 months every year. That means China’s Lunar calendar has a much longer history than the West’s calendar … about 1,500 years older than the Gregorian one.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

Where to Buy

Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

About iLook China


The Power Women Hold in China vs the U.S.

November 21, 2018

Since the end of foot binding in 1949, when Mao said women hold up half the sky, how much power have women gained in China vs the United States?

On July 4, 1776, when the U.S. became a country, women were considered the property of men and they were not allowed to vote. It wasn’t until June 4, 1919 when the 19th Amendment was added to the U.S. Constitution that women gained the right to vote.

The Chinese Communist Party didn’t wait almost 143 years to make women equal to men and technically, women in the U.S. are still not equal because the Equal Rights Amendment has never been passed.

In October 2017, the BBC reported, “Of the 89.4 million members of the Chinese Communist Party, just fewer than 23 million are women – that’s 26%.

“And women make up 24% of China’s National Congress – the sprawling national parliament. You don’t have to be a Communist Party member to sit on that.

“Women are less represented the higher up the political tree you climb.

“After the last Congress in 2012, only 33 women sat on the Central Committee which elects the powerful Politburo – that’s 9%.

“Only two of the 25 members of that Politburo were women – 8%.”

How about the power Women hold in the United States?

Rutgers Center for American Women and Politics reported, the “Percentage of Women in Elective office. In 2018, 20-percent held seats in the U.S. Congress, 23.7 percent held statewide Elective offices and 25.4 percent held seats in state legislatures.”

The United States doesn’t have a Central Committee but it does have the President’s Cabinet that was established in Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution. The Cabinet’s role is to advise the President on any subject he may require relating to the duties of each member’s respective office.

Trump’s cabinet currently has 22 members listed and only five are women (was six but one recently quit), or 22.7-percent. Cabinet members are not elected but they must be approved by the U.S. Senate.

China’s Central Committee is currently composed of 205 full members and 171 alternate members. Thirty-three are women.

Members are nominally elected once every five years by the national Congress of the Communist Party of China. The Central Committee is, formally, the “party’s highest organ of authority” when the National Congress is not in session. Of the 2,280 delegates at the National Congress, less than a quarter was women.

No woman has ever been China’s president since the Chinese Communist Party came to power in 1949, but the United States also has never had a woman as its president.

“Even though Mao once famously said, ‘Women hold up half the sky’, women still have a long way to go in their fights for equal representation.”

The same holds true for the United States.

China Power.org says, “China’s constitution guarantees women ‘equal rights with men in all spheres of life,’ and over the last several decades, women in China have enjoyed some notable gains. Life expectancy and literacy rates, for instance, have risen as China’s economy has developed. This progress, however, has been outpaced by the rest of the world. China’s ranking in the index fell sharply from 63rd out of 115 countries in 2006 to 100th out of 144 countries in 2017.”

While women in the U.S. have achieved 1st place in educational attainment, women in China are ranked 102nd. China has also taken strides to improve postnatal care … a significant improvement over the US, which has no federally mandated leave.

On Global Gender Parity, Chinese women beat American women for political empowerment. China is ranked 77th and the US is in 96th place.

Then there are the billionaires. Barrons.com reports, “China dominated a ranking of the world’s self-made female billionaires, making up almost two-thirds of the total, as well as sweeping the top four spots.” … “In total, China had 64 self-made women billionaires, representing 63% of the total. … “The U.S., with 17 women billionaires, had the second largest share of the list, accounting for 17% of the total.”

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

Where to Buy

Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

About iLook China


A form of Restricted Democracy still exists in China at the Village Level

November 7, 2018

This may come as a surprise to many outside of China, but China is not a totalitarian country with an all-powerful dictator.  Simply put, China has an autocratic government that operates as a limited republic with a Constitution that fits China at this time, and individual freedom takes a distant back seat to harmony and improving the quality of life for the majority of Chinese.


China’s Approach to Social Harmony

New Politics says, “Elections of Village Committees and Village Leaders in China’s approximately 950,000 villages began in 1989 as part of a wider village self-government movement. The Village Committee and Village Leader are entrusted with managing the public affairs of the village. This includes managing any collective enterprises including land (the use of which is most frequently subcontracted out to villagers), building and repairing roads, maintaining public security, administering family planning issues, and helping the village to develop economically, socially, and environmentally.”

The Organic Law of Village Committees in rural China was enacted 1987 and implemented in 1988, allowing for direct election of village chiefs instead of being appointed by the township government.

In the beginning, these rural village elections might have been an experiment to see if this type of democracy worked in China, but with the election of Donald Trump in the U.S., any chance of China becoming more democratic probably died a necessary death.

One thing China doesn’t want to see happen is to lose all the gains erased by a president like Donald Trump who is allegedly illegally dismantling every progressive gain the United States made since 1900 and attempting to influence and control the federal judicial system through the U.S. Department of Justice.

In China, the Local People’s Congress at each administrative level, other than the village level in rural areas, hold direct elections, and elects candidates for executive positions at that level of government.

Governors, mayors, and heads of counties, districts, townships and towns are in turn elected by the respective local People’s Congresses Presidents of people’s courts and chief procurators of people’s procuratorates are elected by the respective local People’s Congresses above the county level. The President and the State Council are elected by the National People’s Congress, which is made of 2,987 delegates.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has almost 90-million voting members, and 22.3-million are women. This makes the CCP the largest political party in the world.

Although the CCP controls the government because it holds the majority of votes, and decisions in China are made by consensus, China is not a pure one-party state. There are approved independent parties that belong to the United Front. For instance, in 2012-2013, eight hundred and thirty members of the 2,987 in National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China were members of the independents that belong to the United Front.

Under the CCP, what are two major examples that China has accomplished since Mao died in 1976?

In 2017, The World Bank reported, “The world as a whole has made impressive strides on poverty reduction. Since 1990 in fact, nearly 1.1 billion people have moved out of extreme poverty, which means that the number of people living on 1 dollar and 90 cents per day, or less, has reduced dramatically. …

“In China alone, nearly 800 million people (from the global 1.1 billion) have escaped poverty since the 1980s.”

In the last fifteen years, China reached 27,000 km (17,000 mi) in total length, accounting for about two-thirds of the world’s high-speed rail (HSR) tracks in commercial service. The HSR building boom continues with the HSR network set to reach 38,000 km (24,000 mi) in 2025.

Why doesn’t the United States, a country being torn apart by Partisanship and Donald Trump, have high-speed bullet trains like Europe and China?


Partisanship does not affect China’s autocratic republic. In China, there is no faction with the power to block the decisions of the majority like the elected Freedom Caucus in the United States made up of about three dozen tea-party people.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

Where to Buy

Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

About iLook China


Halloween vs China’s Hungry Ghost Festival

October 31, 2018

The closest celebration in China to Halloween is The Hungry Ghost Festival celebrated the 14th or 15th night of the 7th lunar month. For 2018, the Hungry Ghost Festival started on August 25th.

Similar to Latin America’s Day of the Dead, The Ghost Festival, also known as The Hungry Ghost Festival, is a traditional Chinese festival and holiday celebrated by Chinese in many countries, in which ghosts and/or spirits of deceased ancestors come from the lower realm and/or hell to visit the living.

Buddhists and Taoists in China claim that the Ghost Festival originated with the canonical scriptures of Buddhism, but many of the visible aspects of the ceremonies originate from Chinese folk religion, and other local folk traditions (The Ghost Festival in Medieval China by Stephen Teiser).

Chinese Culture.net says the Hungry Ghost Festival is “Celebrated mostly in South China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and especially in Singapore and Malaysia.” It is believed by many Chinese that during this month, the gates of hell are opened to let out the hungry ghosts who want food.

History.com says, “Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). The Celts lived 2,000 years ago in what’s known today as Ireland, the United Kingdom and Northern France. The Celts celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the New Year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred.”

In America, children wear costumes and go door to door collecting free candy.  In China, for those who celebrate the Hungry Ghost Festival, the opposite takes place: food is offered to dead ancestors, joss paper is burned, and scriptures are chanted.

I stopped celebrating Halloween decades ago. As a teacher I was what all that candy was doing to my students the day after when they returned to school on a sugar high followed by a sugar low. At first, I handed out small boxes of very sweet organic raisons until a mother told me I was cheap.

If you are a parent of young children, here is why you should not celebrate Halloween with them. The Guardian.com reported, “Sugar is behind global explosion in type 2 diabetes, study finds. Researchers say link between consumption of sugar and diabetes is independent from obesity.”

In addition, the National Institutes of Health says, “Rates of new diagnosed cases of type 1 and type 2 diabetes are increasing among youth in the United States, according to a report …”

And if you don’t want to believe sugar is responisible, here’s what Stanford Medicine has to say, “Researchers examined data on sugar availability and diabetes rates from 175 countries over the past decade. They found that increased sugar in a population’s food supply was linked to higher diabetes rates, independent of obesity rates.”

Think about it: if you want to celebrate Halloween, replace it with China’s Hungry Ghost Festival and skip the candy.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

Where to Buy

Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

About iLook China


Competition vs Harmony

October 3, 2018

China is a collective culture vs. Europe and North America with cultures based on individualism, and understanding Confucianism helps explain how China’s collective culture works.

Religion

China has never been dominated by one religion like Christianity dominates Europe and all of the Americas or Islam dominates the Middle East and most of North Africa.

Philosophy

In China, Confucianism developed during the Spring and Autumn period from the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius (551–479 BCE). His philosophy concerns the fields of ethics and politics, emphasizing personal and governmental morality, correctness of social relationships, justice, traditionalism, and sincerity. Over time, Confucianism replaced Chinese Legalism.

Chinese Buddhism entered China from India during the Late Han Dynasties. By the time of the Tang dynasty five-hundred years after Buddhism’s arrival into China, it had transformed into a thoroughly Chinese religious philosophy dominated by the school of Zen Buddhism. Neo-Confucianism became highly popular during the Song dynasty and Ming Dynasty due in large part to the eventual combination of Confucian and Zen Philosophy.

In Europe and the Americas, there is Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, Rene Descartes, John Lock, et al.  In the West, instead of one major philosopher, there are many. Western Philosophy refers to philosophical thinking beginning with Ancient Greece and Rome, extending through central and Western Europe and, since Columbus, the Americas.

The Basics of Philosophy says, “Very broadly speaking, according to some commentators, Western society strives to find and prove ‘the truth’, while Eastern society accepts the truth as given and is more interested in finding the balance.”

Westerners put more emphasis on individual rights while Easterners focus on social responsibility.

Individualism vs. Collectivism

China is a collective culture vs the west that is based on individualism, and this difference might explain why China was the wealthiest, most technologically advanced civilization on the planet for about 1,500 years up until the 16th century.

Objectivism 101 explains, “Collectivism … sees the group as the important element, and individuals are just members of the group. The group has its own values somehow different from those of the individual members. The group thinks its own thoughts. Instead of judging the group as a bunch of individuals interacting, it judges the group as a whole, and views the individuals as just members of the group.”

In individualism each individual is acting on his or her own, making their own choices and are not guided by the collective, and to the extent they interact with the rest of the group, it’s as individuals.

Collectivism views the group as the primary entity and most if not all individuals are expected to conform. Harmony is considered the foundation of a collective culture while divisiveness is the foundation of individuality.

But first, China Mike says, “To understand the Chinese mind, you need to start with Confucius (552-479BC). Arguably the most influential person in Chinese history, Confucius and his teachings continue to exert a deep influence on society even in modern China today. … Confucianism is a complex system of social and political ethics based on filial piety, kinship, loyalty and righteousness. His teachings cover a wide range—from how a ‘true gentleman’ should behave in his daily life (down to how he eats with proper decorum) to how a ruler should govern (with a benevolent concern for the well-being of his subjects).”

Note: When I started iLookChina in January 2010, I set a goal to write and publish three blog posts a day until I reached 1,000 posts, and then I slowed down. More than seven years later, iLookChina has now published 2,355 posts with more than one-million words. That’s why I have decided to slow down some more. Starting today, I will be posting once a week on Wednesdays. To the more than twenty-thousand amazing people that follow iLookChina, thank you.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

Where to Buy

Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

About iLook China