Folk Beliefs
Folk medicine
Foodways
Material

Red bean soup (红豆汤/糖水)

INFO:
Dried dates
Red bean
Longan – a fruit like lychee
Rock sugar
Water

Slow cook everything together in a pot on the stove so the beans would turn mushy. Serve either cold or hot.

BACKGROUND:
The informant’s mother used to make red bean soup (in Chinese: 红豆汤 [hong duo tang] or 糖水 [tang shui]) with dates in it — it was supposed to help with period pains and overall health. Her mother make the soup from scratch in huge quantities.

In general, it was served cold in the summer and hot in the winter. The informant actually didn’t really like the soup that much, but her mother made it with such care that she couldn’t refuse.

CONTEXT:
The informant, one of my housemates, shared this recipe and background with me in conversation.

ANALYSIS:
Many traditional foodways also doubled as remedies, and are often paired with other “practical” advice such as “don’t talk a lot in cold weather after eating a meal or your stomach will get upset.”

I was also raised by Chinese parents, and find that much of this kind of upbringing information could be corroborated with my own childhood. I think it’s super interesting that even though our parents came from different regions in China, they still carried much of the same cultural information over the Pacific and passed it on to their children in America.

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