The Pur­suit of Thrift in the South­ern Re­gions


Special Focus - - Contents - Hua Mingyue 华明玥

In the south­ern re­gions, in­clud­ing Jiangsu, Zhe­jiang, and An­hui Prov­inces, the tra­di­tion of be­ing thrifty is still val­ued today. The ed­i­fices of Huizhou mer­chants in south­ern An­hui look quite hum­ble from the out­side, but a jour­ney in­side one such ed­i­fice will take one through five or six rows of houses. The sky wells be­tween each con­nected build­ing are court­yards filled with herbs or other plants. Even droplets of wa­ter drip­ping from the eaves are gath­ered in buck­ets for raising gold­fish, grow­ing lo­tuses and wa­ter­ing flow­ers. Mak­ing the most of ev­ery­thing is a time­less virtue.

In Huizhou, there is a unique lo­cal stew made of white turnips and pig’s tail­bone, which, af­ter many hours sim­mer­ing in a clay pot, makes a hearty and warm­ing dish. Us­ing a mas­sive crock the height of a hu­man rest­ing over glow­ing coals, the lo­cals pre­pare the nu­tri­tious soup to com­bat the nat­u­ral hu­mid­ity of the lo­cal cli­mate. All the turnips are peeled be­fore­hand so that the del­i­cate fra­grance and ten­der taste of the soup are not ru­ined by any bit­ter­ness.

Nev­er­the­less, a prob­lem arises when con­fronted with a bas­ket­ful of turnip peels to dis­pose of ev­ery day. Should you just throw them away?

The lo­cals be­lieve that the essence of turnips lies in their peels. So, they pickle the sun-dried peels and turn them into a crunchy golden snack. Order a pot of tea in the city and you will be of­fered side dishes of smoked green beans, dried bean curd, turnip peels, and sun­flower seeds free of any ad­di­tives— a man­i­fes­ta­tion of the at­ten­tion to de­tail and gen­eros­ity of the lo­cals.

In the south­ern re­gions, even sesame residue af­ter oil ex­trac­tion are sold in pieces as large as bowls to peo­ple who grow flow­ers. The el­derly in this area are al­most all “flower ad­dicts.” They fill their bal­conies with jas­mines, be­go­nias, pe­onies, and Chi­nese roses. The gor­geous pe­onies thrive in the fer­tile soil, and the Chi­nese roses refuse to wither un­til win­ter is well due, with their long flow­er­ing pe­riod mak­ing them de­pen­dent on oil fer­til­iz­ers.

Sesame oil shop own­ers will teach you with pa­tience how much of an oil cake you need for each flower. Com­pared to fish in­testines, the oil is a su­pe­rior fer­til­izer. It is clean and does not have a lin­ger­ing odor even when the flow­ers are brought in­doors.

In fact, these ar­eas are not nat­u­rally pros­per­ous— south­ern Jiangsu is densely pop­u­lated and has lim­ited land, and south­ern An­hui and north­west Zhe­jiang are rid­dled with moun­tains. The key to their af­flu­ence may ac­tu­ally lie in the peo­ple’s thrift, with out­put from the land and wa­ter be­ing fully and ef­fi­ciently uti­lized.

(From For­tu­nately We Still Have Plum Cakes, Huazhong Univer­sity of Science and Tech­nol­ogy Press.)





在江南,连榨过香油的芝麻渣子,都分都分成碗大的一坨坨,卖给家中养花的人。江南江南的老人家多是“花痴”,会养一阳台的茉莉、莉、海棠、牡丹和月季。牡丹有异色,全靠肥力足;力足;月季从春到秋都在开花,消耗太多,也是爱是爱 吃“荤”的。




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