When shopping in China one must not leave the house with this one thing...sunglasses.... because cashiers, customers and even babies are undercover paparazzi. What is most important though, is a translator. My Pleco translator always saves the day when I'm in the vegetable section and despite names like Granny Lettuce and Moonlight Tomatoes (no I didn't make those up), my meals are always healthy and tasty. Today however, we hit a bump in the road. While perusing the brown sugar section, I encountered an immense challenge. As hard as I searched for raw brown sugar, I only found ginger, pepper, jujube and lots of something called Ejiao brown sugar. Excited about a new product, I plugged in '阿胶' into Pleco and got the following result:
Yup...that's right. Donkey skin. After all these years, I can still come face to face with food that leaves me speechless. Needless to say, brown sugar shopping was left for another day.
All of my Caribbean childhood, I was taught that brown sugar is healthy because of its unrefined state. In China, however, the clean appearance of refined white sugar is preferred and so in order to sell brown sugar, it is often enhanced with various functional foods and nutrients. The appearance of these sugars are usually dark, powdered and sometimes damp. Ginger provides antioxidants and can sooth the digestive system. Pepper provides antioxidants of a different family which are considered anti-bacterial and anti-carcinogenic. Jujube or Chinese dates nourish the nerves, strengthen skin and intensifies the effects of other herbs.
|Donkey hide gelatin|
|Donkey hide gelatin brown sugar|
Any of these sugars can be mixed with herbs and hot water at the beginning of the day to promote a healthy lifestyle. Interested anyone? Let me know below.