Synergy has served us well historically: John + Paul = Beatles, gin + vermouth = martini. Beyond human and chemical synergism, however, the Chinese have long known that the effects of different foods eaten together can be greater than the sum of their ingredients, for good and ill. So forthwith, a quick list of food-combining do’s and don’ts.
Peanuts & Soybeans
A staple of Chinese sidewalk snack joints, peanuts and soybeans eaten together are known to sharpen the appetite as well as the brain, improving memorization and even preventing Alzheimer’s. Unfortunately, this ubiquitous appetizer is almost always washed down with copious draft beer, flooding away neural connections faster than new synapses can form.
Beer & Wine
Fine, don’t drink them together, either. It’s a cruel world that puts the destructive combo in our path so often; who can resist cab sav with that steak, or the frosty beers quaffed while waiting for a table in the first place? The pundits have been arguing over the merits of a glass a day until nobody listens any more. But heed this – glasses of beer and wine, in any order, effect not only a nastier hangover but a veritable jab to the kidneys, followed by a left hook to the liver. A few straight weekends of wine-tastings followed by brew pub crawling are equivalent to going ten rounds with Joe Frazier.
Apples & Wine
If forced to weigh in on the pros and cons of alcohol consumption, China Expat sides with Chinese medicine, which recommends a stiff shot, a small glass of wine, or a bottle of beer daily. And wine with apples, well that’s just downright heart healthy, keeping the arteries wide and the tissue supple. Skip the aspirin and have another glass of sangria.
Pork & Tea
So you’re back on the wagon, and sticking to the complimentary tea served at restaurants China-wide. As innocuous, nay salubrious as tea is, paired with any of the host of pig recipes that grace a Chinese table, from the Chairman’s beloved hong xiao rou to the rookie foreigner-fave tang su liji (sweet n’ sour pork), the duo can wreak a vengeance of Old Testament proportions, encouraging the absorption of all that unpleasantness that caused Jehovah to forbid swine to his chosen folk in the first place. The result: poor digestion, constipation, and a heightened risk of pig-borne bacterial infection.
Turtle & Honey
And you thought eating mom’s Brussels sprouts made you a trooper. Those not within driving distance of a Chinese supermarket get a pass; as for the rest of you…turtle tastes like fish, not chicken; most reptiles do in fact, and enough honey can make Yao Ming’s old sneakers palatable. You can stick with your apple sangria, but even a semi-regular program of sweet terrapin stew will take your heart to levels of wellness matched only by actually getting off your keister and exercising for once. As for that other thing turtle soup is known for, honey augments that effect, too. Spread the word before Hong Kong businessmen wipe out the tiger.
Dog & Garlic
Oh sure, but eating Babe and Wilbur is fine, right? Never mind they’re nearly as smart as dolphins, pigs aren’t cute, so into the frying pan with ‘em. Dog meat, for those not gagging at the concept, is rich and pungent, garlic a perfect complement. But for all you Koreans and Guangzhou ren out there, dog meat and garlic pose your digestive tract a grave challenge, their combined juices capable of burning through intestinal tissue like the proverbial knife through hot butter. That’ll teach you to eat man’s best friend.
Potatoes & Celery
That’s why mom always chopped celery into the potato salad, no matter your protestations; she must have known. Relatively standard fodder otherwise, the spud when teamed with celery eases constipation, reduces fatigue, and even lowers blood pressure.
Honey & Soy Milk
Had Moses led his people to the land of soymilk and honey, the Israelites would have had more to contend with than restive Canaanites, chronic diarrhea for starters. While milk and honey is the old school energy drink and bedtime snack par-excellence, substituting bean-juice for cow sweat sends the digestive system into a tailspin, leading to the trots and in extreme cases, tinnitus.
Chicken & Broccoli
Or rooster and broccoli, as pictured; it’s up to you. Either way, Chinese medicine prescribes this duo as sovereign for keeping the brain young and sharp. That’s why you’ll never see broccoli as a side dish at KFC: Colonel Sanders was a 33rd degree mason and New World Order proponent. Wake up sheeple! Wake up and have some chicken and broccoli; it wards of colds and blood disease, too.
Beer & Shellfish
That’s right – cancel that summer trip to Qingdao, unless you want to leave the beer /crab fest at heightened risk of kidney disease and gallstones. That growing stiffness in the elbows and knees won’t be age, it’ll be rheumatism. Of course, you could always trade in the jeans for rolled duck pants, and the Tsingtao draft for white wine. Leave the soon-to-be diseased hoi polloi to their faux Oktoberfest tents, as you sip Chablis and pick at your lobster salad. Sure you’ll look bourgeois, but it’s not how you look; it’s how you feel.