It’s Sanfu time! What do Chinese people usually eat to let off summer steam?
July 12 marked the official start of China’s Sanfu period this year. Fu, which means “concealment” in Chinese, refers to the situation when yin (cold weather) is concealed by yang (hot weather), according to Chinese traditional philosophy. Therefore, on Chinese Lunar Calendar, Sanfu represents the hottest days of the year. These days are further divided into Toufu (first fu), Zhongfu (middle fu), and Mofu (last fu). The whole period usually lasts 30-40 consecutive days in the months of July and August.
To combat the constant heat waves during the dog days of summer, smart Chinese like to eat certain fruits and vegetables that are believed to help counter the summer heat, such as watermelons, bitter melons, mung beans, and lotus pods.
Some cuisines are also perfect for the scorching period. There is a local custom in Yangzhou, Jiangsu province, called “one pair of spring chickens for one fu,” believing that steamed pullet is beneficial to one’s spleen in the summer.
Moreover, many Chinese love to eat “river fresh." Freshwater fish and water chestnuts cooled on ice are best-selling items in the hot summer months.
Apart from light food, traditional cold drinks and snacks are must-haves as well. Originally from the royal family during the Qing Dynasty, plum juice has been one of the most popular summer drinks for a long time. Made from dark plums, dracaena fragrans, licorice, and rock sugar, the refreshing plum juice is boiled and then put into a pot to chill.
Snowflake sherbet, also called “indigenous ice cream,” is also a popular choice to help Chinese escape the Sanfu heat. Sprinkle some dried fruit and hawthorn jelly into densely concentrated plum juice and then pour the mix onto ice shavings. After you stir it up for a short while, a delicate afternoon dessert is ready to serve.[ Editor: Wang Peiyao ]