Red to Remember: World AIDS Day

Asian Radish Salad, radish salad, Lotus Foods, Jade Pearl Rice

This is for Angela and for everyone who has had a loved one die from AIDS.

Angela, the talented food writer and gentle spirit behind Spinach Tiger, has organized Red To Remember Blogging Event for World AIDS Day because she wants to remember. Remember her beloved brother and cousin who succumbed to AIDS within a year of each other.

“I simply want to remember.

And, I want you to have the full permission to remember too. And, I want to raise awareness that AIDS is real, and it has affected a lot of lives and hearts and there are many people like me who are forever grieving that sudden loss.”

I’m grateful to have not lost any close friends or family to AIDS, but I have stood by my sister as she vigilantly cared for her husband, my fun-loving brother-in-law and all the kids’ favorite uncle, as his body was fatally ravaged during his second bout with cancer. The war waged on our homefront for the past 12 years is heart disease – and we’re still standing, but my heart goes out to anyone who has experienced the pain and suffering of AIDS, an equally dreadful, often misunderstood disease, a world-wide epidemic that still has no cure.

When I thought back to my experience with a Chinese Herbalist in Hong Kong, I knew that there had to be traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) treatments that were being used to alleviate the suffering of people diagnosed with AIDS. I came across articles in PulseMed, China News, and Acupuncture Today, discussing the use of acupuncture, Chinese herbs and abdomen massage during the latent period: “AIDS has a long latent period, which provides an opportunity for traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) to treat it. This fact has allowed for studies indicating that TCM does have certain effects on these aspects, including: improvement of AIDS patients’ immune and survival quality; relief of clinical symptoms; and extension of survival time.”

You may want to consider some of these alternative medicine approaches. Today, we simply remember.

Please take a moment to read what others have to say at Spinach Tiger.

Without a doubt, the most culturally authentic experience I had  in Hong Kong was visiting a Chinese herbalist. Hong Kong, with direct access to mainland China’s vast herbal cornucopia, has the most flourishing herbal medicine trade in the Far East. As soon as I caught a glimpse of the rows of orange labeled jars filled with mysterious dried shapes, I gestured to my guide and entered without a moment of hesitation. I watched as his wife gathered herbs to fill a prescription and he studied the pulse of an elderly gentleman. Seeing Chinese medicine practiced was something I knew I wanted to do, and without Jeannie, my guide for the afternoon, I wouldn’t have been able to communicate with the herbalist.  Unless you speak or write Chinese, you should always visit Chinese herbal emporiums with someone who knows the language.

visit to a Chinese Herbalist visit a Chinese herbalist

For 80 HKD, he analyzed my “chi” through careful measurement of my pulse and accurately described my ailments. With Jeannie translating, I listened intently as he provided some general medical advice, then proceeded with my herbal prescription by writing characters on a track pad which were converted to an herbal prescription. He printed it out for me and asked if I wanted to have the tonic that day. For 40 more HKD he would prepare the tonic – just give him 2 hours.

We left and continued to the SoHo area – here that stands for “South of Hollywood Road” – a happening place with a wide range of international restaurants and bars accessible by the Mid-Levels Escalator – the world’s longest covered escalator.

Mid-Levels Escalator Hong Kong

Li Yuen East and West market, Hong Kong market

Colorful stalls of Li Yuen Street East and West Market

Wandering through the wet market where vendors sell their live seafood and fresh meat in the open air as they have done for hundreds of years.

Hong Kong Wet Market

Taking respite in a tranquil tea store.

Hong Kong Tea Shop

Marveling at the displays of animal, plant, marine, and mineral displays at another herbalist with a more modern storefront.

Hong Kong Herbalist

After a pit stop at a hip coffee and cheese cafe called Classified, it was time to head back to imbibe in my personalized herbal remedy. Just as before, it was me and the ancient Chinese man. And again, I took my cues from him to see how you were supposed to drink the bowl of steaming murky brown liquid.

Hong Kong Herbal Shop

Hong Kong Herbalist Tonic

In the West, Chinese herbalists can often be found practicing their ancient arts in the Chinatowns of major cities – I should be able to “fill” my prescription in Little Saigon when I choose to brave the bitter tonic again. Someone asked me if I’d seen the episode where Andrew Zimmern (of Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods fame) sampled a Chinese tonic and discarded it after a few sips (I haven’t) … proud to say I finished mine!

Hong Kong Herbalist

How do radishes tie in? Actually, they are a loose reference to the start of a new chapter in our life  and Chinese medicine – and now, a humble dish to contribute to Red to Remember.

Turns out that radishes were first cultivated thousands of years ago in China, then in Egypt and Greece. In fact, radishes were so highly regarded in Greece that gold replicas were made – hmm, there has to be an interesting story there. The radish did not make its way to England until approximately 1548 and by 1629 they were being cultivated in Massachusetts. (source: CDC: fruits & veggies matter) Radishes are also known for the detoxifying and anti-carcinogenic properties.

Hubs planted two varieties of radishes this year: per my request, French breakfast radishes – an heirloom variety, crisp and mildly pungent when young and Fire ‘N Ice – hailed as a Burpee Exclusive, a brightly colored beauty 3-4″ with an extra-crisp texture and a mild, delicately sweet flavor and a little bite on the finish. Like many Americans, I really only thought of radishes as a colorful addition to a green salad,  until last year when I came across several simple radish salads accompanied by ravishing photographs.

French radishes

We sold our house in May and sorely miss our garden – the new owners sent us a touching letter telling us how much they appreciated the care we had put into the house to make it a warm and comfortable home and that they intend to fill it with love, joy, and laughter – I cried. They are expecting their first child and liked our home for all the same reasons that we did fifteen years ago – it was meant to be.

Raised bed garden

With this salad, I have a chance to show my dragon chopstick rests that I bought in Hong Kong – Radish salad, Lotus Foods, Jade Pearl Riceas well as highlight the under-appreciated radish and organic Jade Pearl Rice from Lotus Foods:

“One of our most exemplary rices, both for its nutritional and flavor profile, we infuse our California grown organic pearled rice with wildcrafted BamBoom!™ extract, made from the Moso species of bamboo that grows in the virgin highland forest of south central China.

The oldest living peoples of the world eat a staple of rice mixed with a unique, edible species of Bamboo leaf and stem for its good nutritional profile. They consider this warm mountain-grown bamboo the true tree of life.

When cooked, this beautiful jade-colored rice produces the aroma of a bamboo forest, a light vanilla taste, and an explosion of health-giving nutrients.”

Very simple, just mix together 2 tablespoons each of sesame oil, rice vinegar, and mirin and a half teaspoon of black sesame seeds, shake in a jar or whisk until emulsified, mix half into a cup of cooked Jade Pearl Rice and toss radishes with the remainder. Sprinkle rice with Eden Organic Black & Tan Gomasio (black and tan sesame seeds & sea salt), if desired. Most Asian style vinaigrettes include soy sauce, but if you’re watching your sodium intake – soy sauce, even the low-sodium variety, is out.

radish salad, asian vinaigrette

radish salad, dragon chopstick rest

Be strong – like the Dragon.

And remember…


World AIDS Day 2012



5 Responses to “Red to Remember: World AIDS Day”

  1. Angie@Angie's Recipes December 2 at 10:06 am #

    The chopstick rest looks cool. I know many fine Chinese restaurants use silver one. The rice dish looks delish.

  2. Carolyn December 7 at 5:58 pm #

    It’s been way too long since I stopped by your blog, Priscilla. Thank you for bringing attention to World Aids Day. I love your posts about your trips…I look forward to when my kids are grown and I can do that sort of traveling again!

  3. Lisa December 12 at 3:49 am #

    This is a beautiful post, Priscilla. Many think AIDS is a thing of the past because they came out with drugs to extend the lives of those with AIDs and keep the onset of AIDS at bay for those with HIV. All of the above was/is amazing, but people are still dying of it, and I’m glad you’ve written this post to remind everyone. Also love that ou showed some alternative methods to fight it and relieve suffering.

  4. Magic of Spice December 23 at 1:54 pm #

    Great post! It was wonderful of Angela to put this together…great cause!


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