Tingling Spice and Five Virtues

Wednesday, October 12th, Day 27

I don’t know about you, but I wish they would make my browser safer. I was trying to figure out what 花椒面 is by doing a bing search for huajiao mian, the spice I saw in such quantity at the store yesterday. I told the search engine to switch to pictures, often the fastest way to find the right site when looking for information on food items. This picture came up. I think that is just wrong, wrong, wrong.

Well, what a surprise. You know that package of spices, the one that was stocked by the truckload at Wal-Mart (huajiao mian). Guess what? It’s Sichuan peppercorns! One of the most important spice in Sichuan cooking! And what a strange one. This spice doesn’t provide the heat (that is done by the Sichuan red peppers). Huajiao provides the “tingle / numbness” I’m not sure I know what that means, so I’m buying some on my next shopping run, along with a mortar and pestle, so I can crunch up all those bulk seasonings I see at the market.


Got an e-mail back from a married American couple who have been living in Beijing for about five years. They were college alums, so I wrote them and asked if I could interview them about their observations of Chinese culture. They wrote back saying they’d be happy to. So I began looking for a starting point for my interview. I searched for and read about Chinese culture on the internet and came across numerous references to something called The Five Traditional Virtues (五常). These are accredited to Confucius (551 – 479 BC).

五常 (wǔ cháng) – The Five Traditional Virtues
仁 (rén) – Benevolence
义 (yì) – Righteousness
礼 (lǐ) – Propriety
智 (zhì) – Wisdom
信 (xìn) – Fidelity

I know Confucianism is one of the 三教 (sān jiǎo) – Three Teachings, along with Taoism and Buddhism. Seems like an ideal place to start. Now I just have to come up with some relevant questions that might help me identify strategic strengths, differences with Western culture, that might contribute to social software development. (If you followed all that, please join my team!)


I’m in the process of rearranging my kitchen. Brought in the small table from the main room. For now, I’ve put everything on this table so I have lots of counter space to prepare food.


Made some more steamed buns (using my black sesame paste with a little honey). Also soaking more mushrooms, fungus, and bean curd sheet for dinner.


The sesame paste was like tar and had settled the way peanut butter or Nutella does. Stirred it up, added some honey, then spooned a heaping teaspoon of the mixture into each bun.


While I waited 20 minutes for the second rising, I had some dough left over, so I stuffed it with some sesame honey paste and fried it in the wok.


I had to wait for the buns to steam 25 minutes before removing them to cool (and letting me use my single burner to cook dinner). Leave the lid on the steamed buns until they cool.


Made bean curd sheet with mushrooms and carrots, served with black sesame steamed bun and jasmine tea.


Got to bed early. First Mandarin Chinese lesson tomorrow at 10 a.m.

About jamescmarch

A child of the '50's in rural Pennsylvania, an adolescent of the '60's in southern California, and a political activist of the 1970's in northern California, I have been a husband, a college graduate, an expert witness, a banker, a father, a software entrepreneur, and a philanthropist. Today, I follow my heart by writing.
This entry was posted in Chengdu, China, Sep-Nov 2016. Bookmark the permalink.


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