The World’s Favorite Dessert is Not Chocolate

May 27, 2020

I am a chocoholic. I’m very fond of chocolate and eat or drink some every day. In fact, I usually start my day with some chocolate, and I was enjoying some really-dark chocolate when I started writing this blog post ten hours later in the early evening.

If world civilization collapsed and global trade suffered, I would not miss most of the luxuries I take for granted, but I would miss chocolate. The World Atlas says, “Unsurprisingly, most of the top 10 cocoa-producing countries come from warm, wet climates similar to where the bean originated.”

You might not find this surprising, but the countries that consume the most chocolate do not produce it.

 

How about China? If world trade suffered because of the COVID-19 pandemic, would the Chinese miss chocolate?

Chocolate wasn’t introduced to China until the 1980s. China Business Review reports, “Thirty years ago, most Chinese had never eaten a piece of chocolate; their taste for chocolate was ready to be shaped by whichever company entered the country with a winning combination of quality, marketing savvy, and manufacturing and distribution acumen. For chocolate companies, China was the next great frontier—a market of almost limitless potential to be unlocked through a battle between the world’s leading chocolate companies for the hearts, minds, taste buds, and ultimately the wallets of China’s consumers.”

Those chocolate companies failed.

“Even today, the amount of chocolate sold in China is relatively small, accounting for less than 2 percent of total global consumption. Most Chinese would not be able to find chocolate in their vicinity even if they were willing to buy it.”

Why chocolate never caught on in China should be obvious. The favorite dessert in China, Japan, and most, if not all of Southeast Asia is mochi, and that is made from rice.

Mochi is the most popular dessert in the world, but only because there are more Asians than any other ethnic group on the planet. Caucasians (found mostly in North America, Russia, and Europe) only make up 11.5% (850,000,000) of the world’s 7.8 billion people. The Han Chinese, by themselves, represent more than 20%, and that is not counting the populations of Japan and the other countries in that area of the world that love mochi.

Taste Atlas says, “Mochi, the tiny cakes made out of glutinous rice, are an important part of Japanese cuisine and culture (and the rest of East and Southeast Asia). The preparation of mochi starts with a time-consuming process of pounding boiled or steamed rice, usually the glutinous mochigome variety until it forms into a thick and homogenous paste. …The most common confectionery is referred to as daifuku-round cakes filled with different ingredients such as the traditional red bean paste, strawberries, or ice cream. … Due to its chewy texture, it is important to be extra careful and attentive while eating mochi and to take tiny bites of this glutinous treat.”

What ten countries produce the most rice?

The answer is revealed in the last video. If global trade suffers due to the COVID-19 pandemic, China, Japan, and Southeast Asia will not have to give up their favorite dessert. I live in the United States, and I am not a mochi fan.

What is your favorite dessert?

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.

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The Impact of Cultural and Lifestyle Choices during a Pandemic

May 13, 2020

China is a collectivist culture based on valuing the needs of a group or a community over the individual.

Better the Future.org says, “The traditional Chinese diet consists of low or moderate amounts of meat or fish and plenty of vegetables accompanied by starches like rice or noodles. Tea is often served with dinner instead of soft drinks. Desserts are generally not part of the meal but fresh fruits can be served to help with digestion.”

The BBC reported, “China reported the cases to the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN’s global health agency, on 31 December.… The mayor of Wuhan has previously admitted there was a lack of action between the start of January – when about 100 cases had been confirmed – and 23 January, when city-wide restrictions were enacted. …

“WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has hailed China for the ‘speed with which [it] detected the outbreak’ and its ‘commitment to transparency’.”

The United States is an individualist culture. Very Well Mind.com says, “Individualistic cultures are those that stress the needs of the individual over the needs of the group as a whole.”

Health.gov tells us about the Current Eating Patterns in the United States. “The typical eating patterns currently consumed by many in the United States do not align with the Dietary Guidelines. … About three-fourths of the population has an eating pattern that is low in vegetables, fruits, dairy, and oils.

“More than half of the population is meeting or exceeding total grain and total protein foods recommendations (and) … are not meeting the recommendations for the subgroups within each of these food groups.

“Most Americans exceed the recommendations for added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium.

“The high percentage of the population that is overweight or obese suggests that many in the United States overconsume calories. As documented, more than two-thirds of all adults and nearly one-third of all children and youth in the United States are either overweight or obese.”

How do these cultural and lifestyle choices translate to death by COVID-19?

On May 6, 2020, Statista reported that the United States was 1st place for COVID-19 deaths worldwide.

1st Place: The United States with 72,284 deaths

2nd place: the UK with 29,427 deaths (the UK is also an individualist culture)

11th place: China with 4,633 deaths (where the pandemic started)

The Smithsonian Magazine reports that “U.S. Life Expectancy Drops for Third Year in a Row, Reflecting Rising Drug Overdoses, Suicides,” and Global News reported, “The novel coronavirus is a bundle of proteins. It doesn’t care about faith, freedom, jobs or right-wing conspiracy theories, but that hasn’t stopped hundreds of Americans from defying all medical advice to protest against lockdown measures meant to keep them safe — often while standing unmasked and shoulder to shoulder.”

What about life expectancy in China? Macrotrends says, “The Current Life expectancy for China in 2020 is 76.96 years, a 0.22 percent increase from 2019.”  In fact, China has seen a slow and steady increase in life expectancy since 1950. Click the link in this paragraph to see for yourself.

It is apparent that the price for individual freedoms in the U.S. means shorter lifespans and a higher risk of death by COVID-19. What freedom means in the United States depends on each individual.

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.

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Remote Southwest China

March 4, 2020

Far from the Great Wall and the Grand Canal are the remote villages and towns of Southwest China.

Post Magazine reports, “Historically, this area, which spans the provinces of Guangxi, Guizhou, and Yunnan, was a hotbed of ethnic insurrection and separatist movements. The region proved so difficult to pacify that the Chinese have long dubbed it ‘the land of a hundred barbarians’ and even today, ethnic minorities, as well as local Han, eke out lives as removed from mainstream affairs as one can be in today’s China.”

While I have never visited Southwest China, a few years ago when my daughter was a student at Stanford University, she volunteered to travel to this area with a nonprofit that provided heart-related health care for poor children. The closest I came was when we flew to Southeast China and visited the Dragon’s Back and cruised along the Li River.

Southwest China is also where Pu’erh tea originated, and the beginning of the Tea Horse Road to Tibet.

In 225 A.D., when China was divided into the three kingdoms of Wei, Shu, and Wu, the prime minister of Shu led a military expedition to Yunnan. Historical records say that many of the Shu troops came down with eye diseases.  After they drank boiled Pu’erh tea, the troops recovered.

Wild China reports, “Deep in the heart of Southern Yunnan there exist tea trees unlike any other on Earth. The jungles of Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture and the districts of Simao and Lincang are home to the oldest tea trees in the world. In these regions grow tea trees that range in age from several centuries to over a millennium, and the tea that is made from their leaves is called Pu’er.

“Over the past 30 to 50 years, however, the number of these ancient trees has steadily decreased. Since China’s reform and opening-up policies were implemented in 1978, the Chinese tea industry has grown rapidly.” …

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.

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2020 is the Year of the Rat

February 5, 2020

China’s Lunar New Year officially started several days ago on January 24th and ended yesterday on February 4, 2020.

Webexhibs.org reports, “The beginnings of the Chinese calendar can be traced back to the 14th century B.C.E. Legend has it that the Emperor Huangdi invented the calendar in 2637 B.C.E. The Chinese calendar is based on exact astronomical observations of the longitude of the sun and the phases of the moon.”

But centuries passed before the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD) modernized the calendar and made it official. The first lunar calendar used 10 months with 36 days each, as calculated through observation of the night sky. “It didn’t take long, however, for them to make the switch to a lunisolar 12-month calendar – a system they stuck to ever since.” – Military Time Chart.com

The Han Dynasty was one of the longest of China’s major dynasties. In terms of power and prestige, the Han Dynasty in the East rivaled its almost contemporary Roman Empire in the West.

SupChina.com says, “One of the greatest joys of celebrating the new lunar year is the feast on the eve of the holiday. In Chinese culture specifically, superstitions intertwine with food to bring about special dishes intended to bring good luck. Auspicious meanings are represented by a food’s appearance or pronunciation, and common homophones include words for prosperity, success, and family togetherness. …

“A whole fish is a staple for New Year celebrations in China and is intended to welcome prosperity for the entire year. …

“Dumplings represent wealth because of their close appearance to Chinese gold ingots, which are oval, boat-shaped hunks of gold used as currency in imperial China. …

“A whole chicken is usually served to represent family togetherness. …

“Spring rolls … are also a traditional food of the Lunar New Year. … Like dumplings, spring roll filling can be made based on personal preference. …

“Exceptionally long noodles … represent a long, long life. It’s customary to slurp down the noodle without chewing so that the strands aren’t severed. …

“The star dessert is glutinous rice cake … the word for cake sounds like the word for ‘tall,’ or ‘to grow,’ so eating glutinous rice on Lunar New Year symbolizes growth, whether it be in career, income, health, or even height. …

“Following the circular concept, certain round fruits are eaten during Lunar New Year to encourage family unity. Oranges and tangerines are especially popular because their golden color is believed to attract wealth … ”


But this year, the BBC reports that Beijing has canceled Chinese New Year celebrations in some provinces to control the spread of the dangerous new coronavirus.

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.

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Thanks to Donald Trump’s GUT, US farmers lost the Thanksgiving market in China

November 20, 2019

CNBC reports, “The duties in large part target U.S. farmers, who largely supported Trump in 2016 but suffered from previous shots in the Trump administration’s trade war with China. The thousands of products include peanuts, sugar, wheat, chicken and turkey.”

According to USDA.gov’s internal trade data for chickens, turkeys and eggs exported to China, in 2015, U.S farmers sold 260,102,000 pounds to China. Fast forward to 2018, and those exports fell dramatically to 122,000 pounds. If that is welcome news, send the Real Donald Trump a thank you tweet.

According to The Poultry Site.com, “Most of the world’s turkey meat is produced in just five countries: US, Brazil, Germany, France and Italy.”

Before Donald Trump, China bought most of its turkey meat from the United States.  My guess is that China is now buying its turkey from Brazil. “Although one-fifth of the size of the US industry, turkey production in Brazil rocketed by 220 per cent between 2000 and 2008. Without a doubt, this has been the most dynamic industry in the current decade with output likely to come close to 500,000 tonnes this year making this country the second largest producer in the world.”

By the time Trump arrived and declared his tariff war with most of the world, I think Brazil’s turkey producers were ready.

According to CNBC, “Struggling (U.S.) farmers are losing a huge customer to the (Trump’s) trade war – China.”

And if you think the Chinese do not eat Turkey, you are wrong. Mentalfloss.com tells us that China is #1 among the top five importers of turkey meat. According to Mentalfloss, China imported 82.8 million pounds, and that was back in 2012.

Conclusion, if you are one of the 72,000 American expatriates living and working in China and you want to eat turkey to celebrate Thanksgiving (a U.S. holiday), that turkey probably came from Brazil, Germany, France, or Italy, but not the United States where the farmers that produce turkey are probably facing failure if not already bankrupt.

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.

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September 13th is Mid-Autumn Day

September 11, 2019

China’s Mid-Autumn Festival is similar to the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States. Families and friends in China get together and celebrate a bountiful harvest by coming together to eat, drink, and be happy.

Around the world, Chinese and Vietnamese celebrate this festival. For instance, in San Francisco, not far from where I live, the Chinatown Autumn Moon Festival took place on September 7 – 8, 2019.

During the Mid-Autumn Festival, it is customary to have Moon-Watching parties, and offerings are still made to the Moon.

Also known as the “Full Moon Festival,” the Mid-Autumn Festival falls on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month and takes place when the moon’s orbit is at its lowest angle to the horizon, making the moon appear brighter and larger than any other time of the year.

One historical event linked to this festival is the Moon Cake Uprising.

Near the end of the Yuan Dynasty (1271 – 1368 AD), many Chinese wanted to take back their country from the invading Mongols. Zhu Yuanzhang, the founder of the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644 AD), united the resistance forces. However, it was not easy to organize the different factions spread across the country so the rebels hid notes with details about the rebellion in mooncakes and sent them to the different factions on Mid-Autumn Day. Since then, eating moon cakes have been a Chinese custom during the Mid-Autumn Festival.

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.

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Rice and its History

August 28, 2019

When you think of rice, do you think of China? If not, you should. China is the world’s largest producer of rice with 208-million metric tons in 2017, and the crop makes up a little less than half of the country’s total grain output.

Ricepedia.org reports, “Based on archeological evidence, rice was believed to have first been domesticated in the region of the Yangtze River Valley in China.” Then “In the late 3rd millennium BC, there was a rapid expansion of rice cultivation into mainland Southeast Asia and westwards across India and Nepal.”

Fast forward ten-to-eleven thousand years from the domestication of rice in China to 2017, and Statista reported, that almost 496-million metric tons of husked rice were produced in the last harvest year worldwide, and China’s share was almost 42-percent of the global total.

When we compare rice to wheat production, “the global amount of wheat produced came to about 755-million metric tons in crop year 2016-2017.”

World Atlas.com says, China is (also) the largest producer of wheat in the world. “China produces more wheat than any other country, followed by India, Russia, and the United States.”

How difficult is it to grow rice? “All rice cultivation is highly labour intensive. Rice is generally grown as a wetland crop in fields flooded to supply water during the growing season. Transplanting seedlings requires many hours of labor, as does harvesting. Mechanization of rice cultivation is only minimally advanced. Rice cultivation also demands more of other inputs, such as fertilizer, than most other crops.”

When comparing the benefits of rice to wheat, “A study published … by a group of psychologists in the journal Science finds that China’s noodle-slurping northerners are more individualistic, show more ‘analytic thought’ and divorce more frequently. By contrast, the authors write, rice-eating southerners show more hallmarks traditionally associated with East Asian culture, including more ‘holistic thought’ and lower divorce rates. The reason? Cultivating rice, the authors say, is a lot harder.”

How important is rice when it comes to feeding the world? Thought Co.com tells us: “Today, rice feeds more than half the world’s population and accounts for 20-percent of the world’s total calorie intake.”

Next time you eat a bowl of rice, you might want to thank the Chinese for domesticating it for the world?

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.

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