China’s Noodle Culture

September 18, 2012

China has a unique food culture. My wife loves noodles. I’ve followed her down narrow Shanghai streets to a famous won-ton and noodle shop on the corner of Chang-le and Shang-yang Road. The front is open and the ceiling low with each narrow table crowded with Chinese sitting on small chairs shoveling noodles in with chopsticks.

My wife orders a small bowl of noodles with peanut sauce for me and a bowl of blood soup and another bowl of noodles with spicy hot Sichuan peppercorn sauce for her.  As she eats, sweat beads her face but there is not one word of complaint—not one sign that she suffers. Instead, this seriously satisfied look spreads across her face as if she has entered a Chinese noodle heaven.

When we are visiting Nanjing Road in Shanghai between People Square and the Bund, we always stop at the same food shop where my wife orders steaming hot noodles with the same peppercorn sauce, and I order deep fried, fresh chou dofu (stinky tofu) with the same sauce that makes me sweat.

At celebration feasts, a wider variety of food will be served from whole fish, crab, a variety of vegetable dishes and tofu.

Discover China’s Invasion of Fat from the West

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Recovering from a Beating by Mother Nature – Part 4/4

June 27, 2011

If you are interested in the challenges China faces from mother nature, I suggest visiting the Asian Disaster Reduction Center Site (ADRC) to discover that China has survived earthquakes, extreme climate changes, floods, storms, storm surges, forest fires, drought, insect damage, landslides and slope failure.

In particular, earthquakes, droughts and cyclones have caused major damage.

In fact, China is one of the countries most affected by natural disasters, which occur frequently affecting more than 200 million people every year and these disasters have become an important restricting factor for economic and social development. Between 108 BC and 1911 AD there were no fewer than 1,828 major famines in China, or one nearly every year in one or another province.

In addition, the 2008 Sichuan earthquake has continued the country’s revision of their disaster relief plans. One year after the earthquake, the government announced its continued efforts to improve disaster response. A white paper published on the anniversary details plans to increase the state-level storage facilities for relief materials, such as tents, blankets, medicines and rescue devices, from 10 to 24 so that China may react faster to deal with another serious disaster.


American Red Cross – China Earthquake: One Year Later

On May 12, 2011, according to the Pakistan Defense Website (I couldn’t find this information from a Western media source), China’s expenditures and reconstruction efforts since the Sichuan earthquake have cost 885.15 billion yuan, which was 92.37% of the overall rebuilding budget.

Also reported was, “China’s first earthquake museum was opened in Sichuan. It covers 140,000 square meters, and is made up of six theme sections with 270 exhibits and 559 photos.”

“In Sichuan alone,” Pakistan Defense said, “nearly 3,000 schools, 1,000 hospitals and more than 5 million homes have been built or renovated, according to Wei Hong, executive vice-governor of Sichuan province.”

Before condemning China for the schools that collapsed during the Sichuan earthquake, do not forget that the US has allowed nearly 400,000 people to live in the potential path of death and destruction from Mount Rainier, which has been labeled American’s most dangerous volcano. Source: KOMO News

Jesus Christ said, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

Return to Recovering from a Beating by Mother Nature – Part 3 or start with Part 1

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.


Recovering from a Beating by Mother Nature – Part 3/4

June 26, 2011

Before I focus on Sichuan‘s recovery from the massive 2008 earthquake in China that killed about 90,000 (compared to more than 300,000 dead in Haiti‘s earthquake in 2010), I will point out what I discovered from The New York Times, Fox News, and CNN to offer a glimpse of the criticism leveled at China from the Western media.  There has also been some criticism leveled at China’s recovery efforts.

The themes of these reports were, “Thousands of the initial quake’s victims were children (about 5,000, but more children died in Haiti and those that survived are still threatened as you will soon discover) crushed in shoddily built schools, inciting protests by parents. Local police harassed the protestors and the government criticized them. At least one human rights advocate who championed their cause was arrested.” Source: The New York Times, CNN.com and Fox News

Note: While searching for information on the recovery efforts in Sichuan, I had trouble finding anything from the previous three sources. It was almost as if those three Western media sources had an unwritten rule that said we never print or say anything postive of China.


UNICEF and IKEA aid China earthquake recovery

However, I did find a report from Time Magazine on China’s recovery but also discovered from UNICEF that a year after the Haiti 2010 earthquake, Haiti’s 22,000 schools still lack safe drinking water and sanitation while health specialists expect cholera to remain endemic in Haiti for years to come.

Time Magazine’s Austin Ramzy reported, “I went back to Sichuan six months after the catastrophe and was amazed at the speed of physical and economic recovery. In Dujiangyan, the largest city in the quake zone, the rubble and tent cities had disappeared. The jumble of debris was replaced by piles of new bricks, lumber and other construction materials.

“There was a building boom across the region, and dozens of temporary villages were erected to house the 5 million people who were rendered homeless by the quake.

“The prefab housing was made out of blue aluminum siding lined with Styrofoam insulation. It had concrete floors and was arranged in neat rows in flat spots at the bases of the mountains. Conditions weren’t luxurious, but the camps were clean and the housing dry and fairly warm.”

Note: Time Magazine couldn’t resist mentioning the collapsed schools using similar language to the other Western sources mentioned above as if it were China’s fault that the earthquake took place and the children died.

These reports offer unproven allegations, which may or may not be true but what does that have to do with recovery efforts? In fact, many buildings/homes in rural areas of China were not well built and may have dated back centuries, which is common in third world and developing countries such as China.

Continued on June 27, 2011 in Recovering from a Beating by Mother Nature – Part 4 or return to Part 2

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.


Anger, Oppression, and Courage

May 12, 2010

In the West, it is common to air public or private corruption so the world sees. In China, it is best not to talk about embarrassing problems publicly. Unfortunately, this practice allows individuals in public office to spend lavishly.

When China considers reforms that go against cultural habits, the government moves cautiously and studies the results. Why experiment with change at all?  Because the people show courage and demand changes and this noise cannot be ignored for long.

In Chongqing, an experiment in rural land reform is taking place designed to lift economic oppression from the backs of the rural poor so they benefit from the growing economy. This is the only province where rural land reforms are being tested on a provincial scale. If this works, these reforms may spread to other provinces calming rural anger.

Baimiao, a Sichuan township, is experimenting with financial transparency that has been termed “Naked Government.” So far, results look promising.  For China to combat political corruption, financial transparency is necessary.

In another test, a Cultural Revolution museum in Shantou (Guangdong district) is a message that history is a warning not to make the same mistakes twice. The museum gets about 1,000 visitors a day.

The size of each experiment may signal the importance of each. One covers a province. Two are only in towns. The first experiment took place soon after Mao died. That test was an open market leading to China’s ever changing, booming economy. Maybe these latest tests, if successful, will lead to similar results.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the author of the award winning novels My Splendid Concubine and Our Hart. He also Blogs at The Soulful Veteran and Crazy Normal.

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Water – Two Countries Tell a Tale

April 19, 2010

The National Geographic special issue, “Water, Our Thirsty World” (April 2007) compares the world’s largest democracy, India, with China. In “The Big Melt” by Brook Larmer, we see a convincing reason why China’s mix of socialism and capitalism may be the world’s answer to avoid future calamities. Where Western style democracies stall due to partisanship, special interests, religious beliefs and political agendas, China’s government, ruled by engineers and scientists, appears to be planning decades ahead.

The claims by Tibetan separatists and their supporters that China rules over Tibet with an iron dictatorial fist also appears to be wrong when Larmer visits a family of Tibetan nomads. He writes, “There is no sign of human life on the 14,000 foot high prairie that seems to extend to the end of the world.” Larmer sees “the NOMADS’ tent as a pinprick of white against a canvas of brown.”

Tibetan Nomads

We meet Ba O, a Tibetan nomad. In Ba O’s tent, “there is a small Buddhist Shrine: a red prayer wheel and a couple of smudged Tibetan texts…” A few years earlier, Ba O had several hundred sheep and the grass was plentiful. Now the Tibetan nomad has about a hundred left and fears this way of life is ending.

Ba O says, “This is the way we’ve always done things. And we don’t want that to change.”

However, change is coming, and there is nothing Ba O can do to stop it. The change is not from China’s government. It is from global warming. The Tibetan grasslands are dying and a way of life that has existed for thousands of years may be dying too.

Tibetan girl tending sheep

To insure that the Tibetan nomads will have a place to live, China’s government has been building resettlement villages. The “solid built” houses are subsidized. When the Tibetan nomads can no longer survive on the open Tibetan prairie, it is the nomad’s choice to move into the new villages. The government does not force them to give up their old way of life. Nature does that.

Along with the house comes a small annual stipend for each family so they can eat as they find another way to earn a living. The home Larmer visited had a Buddhist shrine and a free satellite dish for a TV and maybe an Internet connection. In addition, the one child policy does not apply to the Tibetan people since they are a minority in China.

To make sure there will continue to be water to drink, China is planning to build 59 reservoirs in Tibet to capture and save glacial runoff.

In India, the young wife of a fortuneteller spends hours each day searching for water. She lives with her husband and five children in Delhi, India‘s capital. There are fights over water. In a nearby slum, a teenage boy was beaten to death for cutting into a water line.  The demand for water in Delhi exceeds the supply by more than 300 million gallons a day.

What happens to life when there is no water?

See Dictatorship Defined

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.