Chinese Medical Nutrition, 食物养生
Peng Zu’s surname is Qian and his given name is Keng. He is the third great-great-grandson of Emperor Zhuan Xu and the eighth descendant of Emperor Huang. According to legend, he disappeared when he was 800 years old, whence came the name of Peng Zu (Ancestor of Peng）. It is said that he had made pheasant soup and cured Emperor Yao’s anorexia; as a result, he was honored as the father of chefs.
The pheasant soup was the earliest cooking-related written document. According to “The History of Chinese Cooking”, Peng Zu was the first Chinese chef. It is definitely not an exaggeration to say that he is the father of Chinese chefs. However, his rich experience in nutritional care was unknown to modern people.
What is pheasant soup? Pheasant soup is, in fact, a kind of soup, made of a well-done pheasant with millet, which is fresh, aromatic and easy to digest. As the soup has a long history in China, it is also known as the first soup in the world. According to “Hucong Ci Youji” (Bestow Tour upon Retainers), during the annual autumn macaque ceremony of the Qing Dynasty, the emperor would give wild chicken soup to five public ministers. As ancient monarch Tang Yao had drank this very kind of soup, public ministers felt proud of being able to drink the wild chicken soup. According to “Compendium of Materia Medica”, millet could enhance Qi and make up any nutritional deficiencies. If being cooked as food instead of medicine, it benefits the stomach, relieves the mind, cools the blood and has the effect of detoxification. Pheasant can increase energy, enhance Qi, arrest diarrhea and dysentery. With the two combined together, it is easy for us to see the potential nutritional benefits of the soup.
Let’s look at another therapeutic health food, ‘Mica Soup’. Peng Zu chose traditional Chinese medicine’s mica as the raw material, indicating that he has certain experience in people’s feeding habits.
In addition to the above mentioned food, ‘Crystal Cake’ and ‘Black-bone Chicken Stew Coixseed’ also enjoys a welcome reception, whose nutritional effects have drawn the attention of modern people. Peng Zu’s nutritional experience has been stressed by generations of celebrities and followed by later generations as rules.
According to legend, during the Spring and Autumn Period, a man named Yi Ya from State Qi admired the cooking skills of Peng Zu very much. He visited the Peng city three times and innovatively interpreted some of Peng Zu’s food. The famous ‘Yi Ya Five Flavor Chicken’ is, in fact, his invention.
As Peng Zu was regarded as the oldest god of longevity, some of the longevity books of descendants were named after him, such as “Peng Zu Yangxing Jing” (The Classic of Peng Zu’s Self-cultivation), “Peng Zu Shesheng Yangxing Lun” (Discussion of Peng Zu’s Hygienism and Self-cultivation), and “Peng Zu Yangxing Beiji Fang” (Handbook of Peng Zu’s Prescriptions for Self-cultivation). So far, we can see that Peng Zu has a close relation with Chinese diet. In other words, we can say that Peng Zu pioneered Chinese nutritional theory.