This section is from the book "The Steward's Handbook And Guide To Party Catering", by Jessup Whitehead. Also available from Amazon: Larousse Gastronomique.
Amongst these, fried and candied potato chips and the nuts or seed of the Sacred Lotus "a la Helian-thus," whatever that may mean. These nuts are white and soft, not unlike filberts in flavor. Bech-de-Mer - trepang, or sea-slug (see cut page) enters largely into the composition of Chinese dishes. This uninviting looking creature is fished from the deep sea and specially prepared for Celestial consumption. It ranges from six to fifteen inches long, is sometimes covered with spicules or prickles, and is sometimes quite smooth and with or without teats or feet. There are several varieties, and the finest realize as much as $500 per ton in China where they are regarded as a prime delicacy. After boiling, the sea-slugs are cut open, gutted, and placed in drying sheds. Thus prepared they are in consistency-and appearance not unlike indiarubber, and will keep for a great length of time. Made into tiny pies or cooked with truffles and served withMadeira sauce the sea-slug is by no means bad, and by a stretch - a long stretch - of the imagination one might suppose was eating turtle.
Chinese Chop Soly - a savory ragout, known as chop soly, is as much the national dish of China as is the pot an fen of Prance or the olla podrida of Spain. Its main components are pork, bacon, chicken, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, onions, and pepper. These are the Characteristic ingredients; other incidental ones are duck, beef, perfumed turnip, salted black beans, sliced yam, peas, and string beans. No doubt a curious and wonderful compound, but one that may be palatable withal.
Before each diner is placed a pair of ivory metal-tipped chopsticks, and for those who cannot manipulate them the knives and forks of civilization. About the table, on the occasion of the inaugural luncheon, were distributed quaint and curious saucers, bowls, etc., containing melon-seed, comfits, lotus-seeds, cubes of sugar-cane, preserved ginger, cakes, etc.
Ardent disciples of Epicurus are to be found in the Flowery Land as well as in the West, and that the kitchen is not undervalued as a ministrant to human happiness may be gathered from such Chinese proverbs as "Who eats well, thinks well, sleeps well, is well;" "The seat of the soul is the pit of the stomach;" "No saint with an empty stomach".