The Six Rules of Eating Chinese Dim Sum – According to a Top Chef in Hong Kong

Alex Millson wrote . . . . . . .

A New Yorker going to Hong Kong for an authentic dim sum experience may walk away a little deflated: Largely gone are the traditional carts, loaded with delicately flavored bite-size dishes, that diners flag down as they pass by in many U.S. eateries. In the home of the cuisine, they’ve largely been relegated to history and replaced with à la carte menus.

What you’re guaranteed to see in both cities, however, are such traditional dishes as steamed buns stuffed with sticky-sweet pork, xiao long bao dumplings filled with scalding soup, and chewy chicken feet that will test the carnivorous mettle of the more timid meat-eaters. Sweet sits alongside savory, often in the same bite-size dish, washed down with plenty of jasmine tea.

The methods of presentation are changing, but the rules governing how you eat dim sum remain the same everywhere. We asked the world’s first Chinese cook to earn three Michelin Stars, Executive Chef Chan Yan Tak of Hong Kong’s Lung King Heen restaurant at the Four Seasons on what to do—and more importantly, what to avoid.

Nibble, don’t gobble

“It’s better to take small bites rather than eat a whole piece of dim sum in one gulp. The flavors are enjoyed more when consumed slowly. With xiao long bao [delicate pork dumplings filled with a piping-hot broth], pick them up just a bit below the very tip, where the dumpling skin folds together. It’s best to take small bites and let the dumpling cool a bit between bites. Foreigners will often eat them in one bite and burn their mouths that way. The soup can be really hot.”

Go easy on the soy sauce

“Most kitchens prepare their dim sum seasoned, so you shouldn’t need extra, but it depends on how you like your food. Some like it saltier or spicier. Otherwise, dim sum should be well-seasoned on their own. I prefer to go light. I guess foreigners prefer stronger flavors. What they consider to be well-seasoned probably would be too salty or rich for our tastes. And what we like they probably think is too bland. The same goes for sweets. Some of our customers prefer their desserts to have less sugar.”

The spoon can be used for more than broth

“It’s best to use your spoon to give better support—lay the bone on the spoon and maneuver with your chopsticks. Bite off the meatier parts first and eat your way around the bone. Afterward, you can dispose of the bone on your plate. Fine dining restaurants will help you change plates after each course. If you dine in a dai pai dong [a traditional Hong Kong food stall], there’s really no etiquette. You can use your hands to eat and place the bone directly on the tablecloth. Just enjoy the food.”

Keep your chopsticks to yourself

“Don’t serve others with your chopsticks. It’s just as simple as this—some people might not want to share your saliva. You can always ask for another set for passing food to others. And don’t play with your chopsticks—don’t tap your teeth or poke inside your mouth with them. It’s fine to ask for a fork. Even some of the younger kitchen hands we have here can’t use chopsticks properly. We sometimes half-joke that we’ll need to test our new hires’ chopsticks skills.”

Learn the secret codes

“When you want to say thank you, tap your index finger and your middle finger together on the table twice. That represents a bow. And if you run out of tea or hot water for your table, move the teapot lid aside and the waiter will come and give you a refill.”

Don’t over order. You can keep going back for more

“There’s no recommendation for how much you should order, just order as many dishes as it takes to satisfy you and keep ordering until you’re full. And don’t ask for a doggy bag. It makes a big difference when you steam dim sum for one minute more or one minute less. You should eat them hot. Their flavors will totally change if you warm them by microwave at home.”

Source: Bloomberg

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Trace Elements of Lithium in Drinking Water Linked to Longer Life in Alzheimer’s Patients

From IOS Press . . . . . .

Trace elements of lithium in drinking water may slow death rates from Alzheimer’s disease, new research suggests. Rates of diabetes and obesity, which are important risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease, also decrease if there is a particular amount of lithium in the water, says the study, published recently in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Postdoctoral fellow Val Fajardo and Rebecca MacPherson, Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Sciences, collected statistics on various lithium levels in drinking water in 234 counties across Texas.

Lithium is a water-soluble alkali metal found in igneous rocks and mineral springs. It is commonly used to treat bipolar and other mood disorders, but at much higher doses than what occurs naturally in drinking water.

The research team, which included Associate Professor of Health Sciences Paul LeBlanc, compared lithium levels naturally found in tap water with Alzheimer’s disease mortality rates, along with the incidence of obesity and diabetes, in the Texas counties.

“We found counties that had above the median level of lithium in tap water (40 micrograms per litre) experienced less increases in Alzheimer’s disease mortality over time, whereas counties below that median level had even higher increases in Alzheimer’s deaths over time,” says Fajardo.

The frequency of obesity and Type 2 diabetes also went down when the drinking water contained similar lithium levels, the researchers found.

Fajardo says he and his team focused on Texas because data on lithium levels were “freely available.”

Previous studies have demonstrated lithium’s ability to protect against Alzheimer’s disease, obesity and diabetes.

“However, we are one of the first groups to show that lithium’s potential protective effect against Alzheimer’s disease, obesity and diabetes may translate to the population setting through very low levels of lithium in tap water,” says Fajardo.

The Brock research comes on the heels of an August study from the University of Copenhagen linking high lithium levels in drinking water to decreases in dementia rates.

But Fajardo warns it’s too early to start advising authorities to add lithium to drinking water.

“There’s so much more research we have to do before policy-makers look at the evidence and say, OK, let’s start supplementing tap water with lithium just like we do in some municipalities with fluoride to prevent tooth decay,” he says.

Source: Science Daily

Women Are Naturally More Fit than Men

When it comes to getting and staying fit, women may have an aerobic edge over men, new research suggests.

In a small new study, investigators compared oxygen uptake and muscle oxygen extraction in 18 young men and women while they worked out on a treadmill. Oxygen uptake is an important measure of aerobic fitness.

Women consistently processed oxygen about 30 percent faster than men, according to researchers at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada.

“The findings are contrary to the popular assumption that men’s bodies are more naturally athletic,” study author Thomas Beltrame said in a university news release.

Another researcher put it this way.

“We found that women’s muscles extract oxygen from the blood faster, which, scientifically speaking, indicates a superior aerobic system,” said Richard Hughson. He is a professor with the faculty of applied health sciences at Waterloo and is also an expert in vascular aging and brain health.

Because women process oxygen faster, women are less likely to accumulate molecules linked with muscle fatigue, effort perception and poor athletic performance, the researchers explained.

The findings were published recently in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism.

“While we don’t know why women have faster oxygen uptake, this study shakes up conventional wisdom,” Beltrame said. “It could change the way we approach assessment and athletic training down the road.”

Source: University of Waterloo


Today’s Comic

Six Reasons Why Someone Might be a Neat Freak

JR Thorpe wrote . . . . . . .

Excessive neatness isn’t a problem — right? Wanting a clean floor and a well-organized sock drawer isn’t the end of the world. Well, neat-freakery may be more complex, and possibly less useful, than it seems. We tend to think of extremely neat people as good organizers and high achievers, but psychological evidence has begun to show that messy environments are better for creative thinking. So is a neat freak born or made — and is it ever something to be worried about?

Neatness, when it extends into compulsion, becomes the better-known obsessive compulsive disorder, or OCD — a serious anxiety disorder in which compulsive behaviors, like washing hands, straightening pens, or counting buttons over and over, become crippling in their domination of everyday life. A person with OCD — which, it seems, is produced by a combination of genetics and environmental factors — is controlled by their compulsions, and neatness isn’t actually the point in the slightest. But the neat freaks we’re talking about aren’t at this point: they just really, really like things to be in order.

We tend to look at neat freaks with awe and a little bit of confusion. What’s so terrible about a little bit of dust, and why does everything need to be immaculate all the time? The answer lies in psychological and genetic factors — and neatness may actually be more of a tyrant than it seems. Let’s take a look at six reasons why someone might be a neat freak.

A Pathological Need For Control

Psychology is keen to make a connection: neat freak is essentially the same thing as control freak, just with a very specific pattern of behavior attached. Now, a desire for control isn’t an inherently bad thing. A 2010 study even says it’s evolutionarily necessary for us to feel as if we control our environments — otherwise we’re scared all the time, and too frightened to take necessary risks — and being clean and neat is an evolutionary benefit too, because it keeps us protected from diseases. But neat freaks often take the desire to an extreme.

This specific need for control often comes from a deep sense that control is inherently lacking in the world, and needs to be asserted. Control freaks generally believe they have to create order themselves, as they can’t trust anybody else to provide that stability for them.

A Tendency To Experience Anxiety

As you may have picked up, neat freakery — and its controlling aspects — is a deeply anxious thing. The fact that OCD is classified as an extreme anxiety disorder is no accident; a serious need for neatness, anywhere on the spectrum, is actually a way of calming serious anxiety about the world and your place in it.

Anxiety can come from a huge range of places: entrenched stress, trauma, substance abuse, even genetics — if a close family member has anxiety, you’re likely to suffer from it too. The genetics aren’t fully understood, and it’s not yet clear if specific types of anxious behavior are encoded in DNA, but if a deep thread of anxiety is the core of neat-freak thinking.

A Possible Phobia

Controlling behavior doesn’t make you Darth Vader. It usually develops from an inherent vulnerability — and one of those vulnerabilities may actually be a phobia. Whether it’s simple (a phobia of dust) or more complex (a serious aversion to a messy bedroom), a phobia — classified as an extreme anxious reaction to a situation, causing serious aversive behavior — can be the key to a neat freak’s motivation.

One of these, mysophobia, is the pathological fear of germs and contamination, and while it’s often linked to OCD in an extreme form, it can also be the key to milder anxious neat-freakery. Phobias, interestingly, seem to be partially genetic — but they’re also possible to treat with therapy.

A Perfectionist Streak

There’s a strong tie in case studies between perfectionism and neat-freakery — and given what we know thus far, that’s not surprising. Perfectionism, even though it usually has a good reputation (wanting to do everything 100 percent can’t be that bad, right?), can actually be a seriously crippling voice in your head, demanding absolute excellence and delivering horrible punishment if that standard isn’t reached. Which it never is. (Trust me: I am one.)

Cleanliness is yet another challenge for the perfectionist, an aspect that must be “completed” to a Himalayan standard or else mark them as a catastrophic failure. Perfectionism is knotted together in a triangle with anxiety (I will never achieve 100 percent) and depression (I did not achieve 100 percent and therefore am a failure), so its link to neat-freakery isn’t surprising.

A Neat-Freak Or Chaotic Parent

The family backgrounds of neat freaks can often go in one of two directions. One is that their behavior is actually patterned on a neat freak parent, who instilled values about the necessity of serious neatness in them — usually as a response to some fear, compulsion, or vulnerability of their own. To that extent, it’s classified as a learned behavior.

The other direction, however, is a bit more distressing. Chaotic parents, who don’t provide stability or a sense of control for their children, can also produce neat freak or controlling kids, according to Psychology Today. That kind of neat freak is reacting against the chaos of their childhood by creating a safe, soothing, controlled space for themselves in adulthood — and reassuring themselves through cleaning. A clean kitchen means everything’s OK and nothing unexpected is going to happen.

Childhood Routine Triggers

Interestingly, according to another article in Psychology Today, a neat freak’s particular focuses — their “hot spots,” or the areas that absolutely need to be clean — are closely related to childhood routines of cleaning. Cleaning in particular areas is something that, for a neat freak, has been done since a young, vulnerable age, and has been a consistent routine for years — and that consistency makes them feel safe.

Neat freaks, according to this theory, are not all the same. Their particular patterns of neatness are based on the things they’ve always wanted to clean: it’s what’s called, in anxiety disorders, a reassurance-seeking behavior. Cleaning the sink makes them feel stable.

The key for neat freaks who want to feel safer outside of detergent is often, through therapy, to find that reassurance in other things, to trust the world not to hurt them, and finally, to let go of the scared kid who needs so badly to feel safe.

Source: Bustle

Woman in Hawaii Found a 5.23 Pound Avocado Under the Tree

The 2.4 kg avocado should have broken the Guinness World Record because the current record is only 4 pounds 13.2 ounces.