Recipes from the Garden of Contentment – a Chinese Gastronomic Guide from 1792

Susan Jung wrote . . . . . . . . .

Recipes from the Garden of Contentment (2018) is the first bilingual (Chinese and English) edition of Suiyuan Shidan (1792), a work on gastronomy by Qing dynasty poet and scholar Yuan Mei. However, its translator, Sean J.S. Chen, is neither a classic Chinese scholar nor a chef in a high-end Chinese restaurant looking for inspiration; rather, his field is science and engineering.

A “research scientist and algorithms dev­eloper for computer-assisted minimally invasive surgery”, Chinese-Canadian Chen started translating Yuan’s work after failing to find a transla­tion of it, and published his efforts on his blog, Way of the Eating.

Translating the book wasn’t easy, Chen writes. “Classical Chinese is a written language of its own, quite different from modern written Chinese that is used today in daily life. For the untrained reader, Classical Chinese appears as a disconti­nuous mask of characters glommed together on a grid typically without any punctuation to guide the reader. Reading through the Suiyuan Shidan in Classical Chinese brought back those feelings of inadequacy I felt while grinding through the Middle English version of The Canterbury Tales in university.”

It wasn’t just the translations that troubled Chen – he also found that there were different versions of Suiyuan Shidan. For an accurate translation, he needed access to the original text, and found two copies of the 1792 volume – one at the Harvard-Yenching Library, the other at Princeton University Library.

Yuan wasn’t a cook – his household staff included a chef (and several concu­bines). But as a food lover, he had strong opinions about recipes, as well as the preparation of ingredients. In the chapter “Essential Knowledge”, he states, “It is better to use more of an expensive ingredient in a dish and less of the inexpensive ones. If too much of an ingredient is pan-fried or stir-fried at the same time, there would be insufficient heat to cook them through; meats done this way are especially tough […] If one asks, ‘What if there isn’t enough to eat?’ I say, ‘If you’re not full after you’ve finished what’s there, just cook some more.’”

The chapter titled “Objectionables” is especially entertaining, and Chen’s annotations are just as opinionated. “What are ‘meals for the ears’?” reads the original text. “Meals for the ears exist only for bolstering name and reputation. By boasting the names of expensive and coveted ingredients, flaunting one’s wealth to esteemed guests, such meals tease one’s ears but confer no satisfaction to one’s tongue.”

Chen adds, “Sadly, dishes for the ears, or ‘ear meals’, are a mainstay of gastronomy, be it Eastern or Western cuisine. Foie gras is fantastic, but if a restaurant serves it too thin (less than five millimetres thick) just to be able to mention it in a dish, that’s an ear meal. White truffle oil (usually containing no truffle shavings whatsoever) in your pasta? Ear meal. ‘Kobe beef’ hamburgers? Yet another ear meal.”

The recipes are brief, leaving out a lot of detail. The recipe for mutton soup, for instance, reads, “Take some cooked mutton and cut it into small pieces, about the size of dice. Braise the meat in chicken broth. Add diced bamboo shoots, diced shiitake mushrooms, diced mountain yam, and then braise until done.” The recipe for radish cooked in lard reads, “Stir-fry the radishes in rendered lard, then add dried shrimp and braise them until completely done. When one is about to plate the dish, add chopped green onions. The radishes should be translucent and red like amber.”

Other recipes include roasted suckling pig, red cooked pork, white cut chicken, smoked eggs, eight treasure tofu and homestyle pan-fried fish.

Source: SCMP

Codfish Cakes with Shrimp Sauce


1 cup shredded cooked codfish
1 cup mashed potatoes
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1-1/2 cup fine bread crumbs
1/4 cup butter
1 (10-1/2-oz) can cream of shrimp soup,
1 tbsp soy sauce


  1. Combine the codfish, potatoes, eggs and pepper and blend well.
  2. Shape the codfish mixture into 8 cakes and coat well with the bread crumbs.
  3. Melt the butter in a skillet. Fry the cakes in the butter until lightly browned on both sides, then arrange on a serving platter.
  4. Heat the soup and soy sauce in a saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently.
  5. Spoon the soup mixture over the codfish cakes and garnish with fresh dill sprigs and lemon wedges.

Makes 8 servings.

Source: Creative Cooking Course

New Character Sweets from Lawson Japan

Doraemon Wagashi

The price of the new sweet is 285 yen (tax included) each.

Your Aorta: The Pulse of Life

Understanding The Aorta and Its Job in Circulation

The aorta is the main artery that carries blood away from your heart to the rest of your body. After the blood leaves the heart through the aortic valve, it travels through the aorta, making a cane-shaped curve that connects with other major arteries to deliver oxygen-rich blood to the brain, muscles, and other cells.

The aorta is more than an inch wide in some places and has three layers:

  • The inner layer (or intima)
  • The middle layer (or media)
  • The outer layer (or adventitia)

When a problem occurs with the aorta, the heart and the entire body’s blood supply can be jeopardized.

When Aortic Problems Occur

An aortic aneurysm is a weakened or bulging area on the wall of the aorta.

A problem with the aorta can quickly become a serious medical emergency. Serious problems with the aorta may include:

  • Aortic Aneurysm – which may occur in either the chest (called a thoracic aneurysm) or anywhere along the aorta such as lower in the abdomen (called an abdominal aortic aneurysm)
  • Aortic Dissection

What is an Aortic Aneurysm?

An aortic dissection is a split between the layers of the aorta that traps blood coming from the heart.

An aortic aneurysm is a weakened or bulging area on the wall of the aorta, which may occur anywhere along its length.

Problems from aortic aneurysms happen in two ways:

  1. Rupture: The weakened or ballooned area may develop a hole, called a rupture, that allows blood to leak or burst out into the body.
  2. Dissection: The blood pumped forcefully through the aorta can split the layers of the artery wall, allowing a build-up of blood to continually leak into the space, which further splits the artery wall.

What are the Symptoms of an Aortic Emergency?

Some of the symptoms, such as chest pain and jaw pain, are generally associated with a heart attack, but the sudden stabbing, radiating pain, fainting, difficulty breathing, and sometimes even sudden weakness on one side are also symptoms of an aortic event. Because the aorta travels from above the heart to below the navel, severe pain may occur at any place along this major vessel. Additional accompanying symptoms of a rupture may include clammy skin, nausea and vomiting, or even shock.

Aneurysms and dissections of the aorta are life-threatening conditions and should be treated as a medical emergency.

How is an Aortic Aneurysm or Dissection Treated?

There are two main treatment options for aortic dissections and aneurysms: surgery and/or medications.

  1. Surgery to repair or replace the injured section of the aorta.
  2. Medication to lower blood pressure and reduce risks of rupture. Medications would not be a treatment option in an emergency situation, but they may be appropriate if danger from a rupture does not appear to be imminent.

Stats About Aortic Aneurysm and Dissection

Impact: According to the CDC’s most recent annual statistics, aortic aneurysms were the main cause of 9,846 deaths and a contributing cause in more than 16,147 deaths in the United States.

Risk: About two-thirds of people who have an aortic dissection are male.

Besides advanced age and genetics or family history, people who have the following conditions may be at higher risk for an aortic aneurysm or dissection:

  • High blood pressure: the increased force of blood can weaken the artery walls
  • Genetic conditions, such as Marfan’s Syndrome: that causes problems in the body’s ability to make healthy connective tissue
  • High cholesterol or atherosclerosis: a build-up of plaque may cause increased inflammation in and around the aorta and other blood vessels
  • Inflamed arteries: Trauma such as car accidents, certain diseases, and conditions like vasculitis can cause the body’s blood vessels to become inflamed
  • Smoking: People with a history of smoking are 3 to 5 times more likely to develop an aortic aneurysm

Screening: The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that men aged 65–75 years who have ever smoked should get an ultrasound screening for abdominal aortic aneurysms, even if they have no symptoms.

People living with aortic disease or other heart-related conditions can improve their odds for a longer, healthier life. It’s important to:

  • Report any symptoms immediately.
  • Get regular check-ups.
  • Always take care of your overall heart health.

Source: American Heart Association

GI Societies Issue Updated Colorectal Cancer Screening Recommendations

Patients at average risk of colorectal cancer who have a normal colonoscopy do not need to repeat screening for 10 years. It is common for polyps to be removed and tested during a colonoscopy, but the amount and size of polyps removed will change the patient’s follow-up screening schedule. In two new publications from the U.S. Multisociety Task Force (MSTF) on Colorectal Cancer, experts provide a timeline for patients to be rechecked for colorectal cancer based on their initial colonoscopy as well as recommendations for physicians to apply the safest and most effective techniques to completely remove polyps.

Colorectal cancer, the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S., is preventable when precancerous polyps are found and removed before they turn into cancer. Screening for average-risk patients is recommended to begin at age 50. The recommendation documents from the U.S. Multisociety Task Force — which is comprised of representatives of the American College of Gastroenterology, the American Gastroenterological Association and the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy — aim to improve colorectal cancer prevention and early detection.

Recommendations for Follow-Up After Colonoscopy and Polypectomy

For this publication, the U.S. MSTF reviewed their 2012 recommendations2 and provide an updated schedule for follow-up colonoscopy following a patient’s initial high-quality exam:

  • Patient has no polyps: Next colonoscopy in 10 years
  • Patient has 1-2 polyps <10mm: Next colonoscopy in 7-10 years (instead of 5-10 years)
  • Patient has 3-4 polyps <10mm: Next colonoscopy in 3-5 years (instead of 3 years)
  • Patient has more than 10 polyps: Next colonoscopy in 1 year (instead of 3 years)
  • Patient has serrated polyps: Review the document for complete recommendations
  • Patient has advanced polyps: Next colonoscopy in 3 years

To review all MSTF recommendations for patient follow-up, review the full publication.

Recommendations for Endoscopic Removal of Colorectal Lesions

In this publication, the U.S. MSTF provides best practices for the endoscopic removal of precancerous colorectal polyps during colonoscopy, which is called a polypectomy.

Best practices for polyp assessment and description

MSTF recommends macroscopic characterization of a polyp, which provides information to facilitate the polyp’s histologic prediction, and optimal removal strategy.

Best practices for polyp removal

The primary aim of polypectomy is complete removal of the colorectal lesion, and the subsequent prevention of colorectal cancer. Overall, the vast majority of benign colorectal lesions can be safely and effectively removed using endoscopic removal techniques. When an endoscopist encounters a suspected benign colorectal polyp that he/she is not confident to completely remove, MSTF recommends referral to an endoscopist experienced in advanced polypectomy for subsequent evaluation and management in lieu of referral for surgery.

Patient has diminutive (≤5mm) and small (6-9mm) polyp(s): Recommend cold snare polypectomy

Patient has non-pedunculated (≥20mm) polyp(s): Recommend endoscopic mucosal resection; Recommend snare resection of all grossly visible tissue of a polyp in a single colonoscopy session and in the safest minimum number of pieces; Recommend against the use of ablative techniques on endoscopically visible residual tissue of a polyp; Recommend the use of adjuvant thermal ablation of the post-EMR margin where no endoscopically visible adenoma remains despite meticulous inspection

Patient has pedunculated polyp(s): Recommend prophylactic mechanical ligation of the stalk with a detachable loop or clips on pedunculated polyps with head ≥20mm or with stalk thickness ≥5mm to reduce immediate and delayed post-polypectomy bleeding

Best practices for surveillance

MSTF recommends intensive follow-up schedule in patients following piecemeal endoscopic mucosal resection (lesions ≥ 20 mm) with the first surveillance colonoscopy at 6 months, and the intervals to the next colonoscopy at 1 year, and then 3 years.

Source: EurekAlert!

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