Apparently I have been rather morbid lately in my posts: mutilation, vomiting, airing my laundry etc. This is an attempt to rectify the situation. I write, edit little, and put it out there. Deal with it :-)
Just down the road from my little village is the famous bamboo garden path or park. It is a vast hiking trail up the dragon’s spine and around to various places in the mountains. This whole area is a preserved National Historic Site. It is called the Yunqi Bamboo Path. The bamboo there grows 120 feet high. A famous Emperor “Qianlong (Chien-Lung)”came to pray twice. He loved this part of China. I do too. See picture below of the map, or go to Google maps and enter “Bamboo-lined Path at Yunqi Xihu,” or go to “30°11’40 N 120°5’17 E”. Yunqi literally means “The roosting of the clouds.”
It is a magic place. I have been here since December 1st 2012, so it has changed from late autumn to winter, and now as I publish this to a bright green spring with shoots everywhere. Enjoy the slide show below. I will add more pictures to the slideshow as I continue to explore this paradise. On nice days, I go there with my guitar and play to the imaginary bamboo muses, hoping for inspiration. The latest walk was in a snow storm. I was the only person walking up to the small temple at the top of one of the mountains. Dogs are not allowed into the park and no matter what I did to dissuade Pong and Wong they followed anyway. I guess they figured the silly foreign human who feeds them might need help. I arrived at the gate, and the lady said no me NO DOGS! I smiled and said in English: these are not my dogs. I tried in Chinese and came up with No Dog Me. This was funny to others later. She was not amused. I smiled paid my 8 RMB ($1.30) to go for a walk. She tried to shoo the dogs away, but they walked around a wall and joined me further up the path. I would not have made it without them. The place was basically deserted and a heavy wet snow was falling. It was magic. I have been a little down lately and the company of Pong, Wong, and nature was to be the antidote. It is a long walk to the temple and with the added snow I knew it would be hard work. The dogs were thrilled to keep me company and always ran ahead and looked back urging me on. “Come on little two legs…you can do it.” They say a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. That may be true, but you still have to walk the rest of the way. This was a journey of ten thousand steps, literally. I had a jar of green tea to fortify me. I wished I had had a peanut butter sandwich. I almost turned back about three-quarters of the way up, but I found a bamboo staff by the side of the stairs. I took it as a sign and I would not have made it up and back without it. Thank you Universe. I was alone at the temple; I lit incense and a few candles. I sat for a while and accepted the beauty and my current situation. A wandering minstrel my father calls me. By the time I got to the bottom of the mountain, the snow had turned to rain and a large group of pilgrims were chanting and burning incense. I felt cleansed and purified in the incense and song. I was also very hungry.
Of the 1575 known bamboo species worldwide, 110 species are recorded to have edible shoots. Edible meaning a satisfactory to delicious taste, because even though some bamboo shoots are classified as edible, they must be carefully prepared and boiled before consuming!
Bamboo shoots may contain significant, potentially very toxic, amounts of cyanogenic glycosides. Various reports even place bamboo shoots amongst the most potentially toxic plant materials, exceeding apricot, bitter almond stones and considerably exceeding that of cassava.
However, the cyanogenic glycoside in bamboo is in fact taxiphyllin. Taxiphyllin is unusual amongst other similar compounds in the sense that it degrades readily in boiling water. Thus boiling bamboo shoots or cooking bamboo shoots should remove any problem.
– See more at: http://www.guaduabamboo.com/edible-bamboo-shoots.html#sthash.zZVIkdVs.dpuf Read more: Edible Bamboo Shoots and Species
You can dry bamboo shoots, and like mushrooms reconstitute them in warm water. Fresh ones are better. There are two types of eating bamboo here called winter bamboo and spring bamboo. Spring is long and thin, and the winter squat and more pyramidal. A mix of the two is a treat. I am sure the variety changes so I cannot be more specific. I like them done very simply sliced thinly, parboiled then sautéed with ginger, and a little garlic in a very hot wok. Finish with a little sesame oil.
You can also take the big bamboo shoots that are about a foot and a half tall, and five to seven inches in diameter, and peel them and cut them into large chunks. They are a great flavoring in a long-simmered lamb stew.