Soup Is Not For Everyone
Back i n the day, the Northern Chinese traditionally ate meat and the Southern Chinese ate soup.
Southerners are super particular about soup- making methods, the ingredients and the time it is to be eaten, all of which has made it a culturally significant fashion statement that has spread throughout the whole country. People living in cold regions of the North, who once only eat meat not soup, have learned to warm up their stomach by having some hot soup before meals.
In recent years, it is said that soup is healthy and nourishing. TV talk show gurus talk about it and even cook it for their guests. Truth be told, it makes me anxious every time I see this kind of program. We Southerners like soup for geographical reasons. But if you make Northerners eat soup like Cantonese, it will actually be harmful.
When the meat from animals, birds and fish are mixed with other ingredients, such as vegetables and spices, certain nutrients such as free amino acids, fatty acids, fatsoluble vitamins, salts and micronutrients will dissolve into the soup after a long period of simmering.
Because of the high temperature and high humidity in the South, people need to consume some fat, and the salt they take in is sweated out through work or exercise. In a word, soup is good for the body. However, because of the cold weather in the North, people do little outdoor activities and don’t sweat nearly as much. If they eat a lot of soup, the salt and purine can only be excreted through the kidneys, thereby putting an increased workload on them, and making the eaters prone to hypertension and gout.
Actually having soup in the South is not even a necessity anymore. In the past, people were completely in the natural
environment. Today, the environment hasn’t changed, the south is still hot and humid, but the micro-environments in the area have changed. Cars and offices are air- conditioned, keeping the indoor temperature constant. People used to fight against heat stroke, but now they fight against air conditioning diseases.
Of course, if Southerners ate a lot of meat and drink a lot of alcohol like Northerners, they would suffer from chronic discomfort, such as excessive internal heat, acid reflux and indigestion. In the South, it is better to eat fish and duck than beef and mutton. The precepts of Traditional Chinese Medicine state that fish and duck are classified as “cold” meat, meaning that they have a cooling effect on the body, which is suitable for hot and humid weather. On the other hand, mutton and beef have a warming effect. It is often bitterly cold in the North, especially in winter, so it is necessary to eat mutton and beef to keep out the cold.
What’s more, diets differ according to area. People in mountainous areas are short of iodine and vulnerable to disease of the goiter. They should take in more iodized seafood and iodized salt. Kelp is often present in regional cuisine such as Sichuan hot pot or spicy hot pot, but with its dry, arid climate, people living on the plains of Northwest China should eat more fruits and vegetables and steer clear of hot peppers.
When taking all factors into consideration, whether people should eat more meat, more soup, more vegetables or more spicy food or mild food or drink more milk, depends on the environment. The area you come from, its local climate, the season and the overall environment are factors that must be taken into consideration. Whether you stay
outdoors or indoors for long periods, whether there is central heating or air conditioning, whether you drive a car every day or take a bus occasionally, your level of physical activity, the microenvironment and individual difference all deserve attention. The good way to keep everything in balance is to make sure your deposits don’t exceed your withdrawals, so to speak.
Jiangxi Science and Technology Publishing House. Translation: Zhou Honghua, School of Foreign Language and Literature, Wuhan Qingchuan University)