My neighbor Marilyn wanted to get a "tune up" from her Chinese herbalist who has a shop in the China Town Cultural Plaza Shopping Center. It had been ages ago since I'd been there, so I immediately tagged along, opportunist that I am. And what a fun expedition it became.
Aside from the rows of jars with strange and exotic substances, ever-present abacuses, multiple statues of fierce warriors, old men with long white beards, Kwan Yins, and fat happy buddhas, I also spied things like a mortar and pestle, a humongous cleaver, and ceremonial spears.
The herbalist patiently listens to your presenting symptoms, checks your pulses (for your comfort, a little pillow is placed under your wrist), looks at your tongue, and writes down his prescription of a dozen or so “herbs,” meaning shavings, roots, twigs, seeds, and who knows what else mysterious dried and wrinkled stuff….
He carefully measures out each ingredient with hand-held scales, sliding them onto five square pieces of white paper (one for each day). When all the ingredients have been collected, the same paper is then used to wrap them into five individual packages. The price is $12/package x 5 = $60.
· In the morning, soak the contents of one package (plus two thumb-size pieces of root ginger) in 4 cups of water for 20 minutes.
· Bring to a boil on high heat.
· Turn heat down to medium until only one cup of liquid is left.
· Drink the cup of liquid one hour after a meal. Save the concoction for preparing your evening drink.
· For the evening drink, add 3 cups of water to the previously boiled herbs.
· Repeat the steps above. Drink the brew one hour after dinner.