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In ancient China, feeding the ancestors became a key factor in establishing personal health and the health of the family and community. Appropriate knowledge about the potency of flavours, and their ability to nourish body and soul across generations, was framed in terms of nurturing the body's Qi, its Yin and Yang. Central Chinese bodies were often thought more delicate and in need of careful nourishment. Many of these ideas remain part of a lasting sense of national identity.
Vivienne Lo is Senior Lecturer and Convenor of Asian Studies at the Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at UCL. She translates and analyses ancient and medieval Chinese medical manuscripts and, in particular, writes on the social and cultural origins of acupuncture, Qi and therapeutic exercise. In recent years she has been researching the history of food and nutrition in China. She also writes Chinese cookery books, and records the everyday food culture and health practices of East Asians in diaspora.