July 20, 2014

Nang Chong Tales : Grandmother's Visual Disabilities

While warmed by a bowl of lovingly prepared black chicken soup laced with wolfberries or goji berries I have written this posting for you dear readers. Goji berry or wolfberry is the furit of Lycium barbarum  (Chinese ninxia gouqi) and lucium chinense.(Chinese: 寧夏枸杞 pinyin: níngxià gǒuqǐ) (Chinese: 枸杞 pinyin: gǒuqǐ).

Whenever I see Goji, I would be thinking of my maternal grandmother Lien Tie  who was afflicted with cataracts when she was 74 years old. By then she was very weakend by a slightly unhealthy heart although she did not suffer the usual modern sicknesses like diabetes or oesteoporosis.

Her sons, my uncles, were not in favour of having her cataracts removed and she too thought that two operations would not be good for her. In those days, most villagers were petrified even by the word OPERATION. And furthermore, she had to go to Kuching for the eye operation, which was still a very touch and go kind of surgery.

She , together with my third aunt or San Ging, started making a lot of dishes out of goji. Friends and relatives also started to bring her gifts of chickens and goji whenever they came to visit her, either at our home in Sibu or in the big house in Nang Chong. However all the gojis in the world could not help her because she became totally blind when she turned 80. Those were the saddest years of my life.

She was unconsoleable when she learned that my young brother Hsiung had passed away in 1981. She only knew about it in 1983 as we had kept the pre mature demise from her for two years. It was so sad to listen to her "Foochow wailing" (chiun kuoh) or the singing of funeral verses.Many people also said that she had cried so much that she became blind as she had lost her husband, her youngest son, three sons-in-law and a favourite daughter and then a grandson (my brother). In her wailing she mentioned all their names and memories of them.

On the lighter side of life today, as I look at goji, I also think of the wonderful recipes we have developed over the years.

One of my favourite soups in Chinese restaurants and at home is soup laced with wolfberries.


Steam fish with lots of wolf berries
Bitter Gourd with Wolfberries
The simple Kang Kong with wolfberries becoming a welcomed higher end vegetable in restuarants today.


Photo by LC Ling. Goji planted by her in her garden.



Thank you LC Ling for the photo of fresh goji. My grandmother would have loved seeing the real goji, which she had seen in China during her childhood.

Goji will help strengthen your vision.







6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think wplf berry and goji berry are two different berries. But again please check and I am not sure.

I thought cataract can be 'cured' and dint know it can cause blindness. Very sad ending about your beloved grandma.

Anonymous said...

Correction: should be Chinese Wolfberry. It i s grown in Tibet, Mongolia and maybe Singchiang.

Ensurai said...

The wolfberries and goji are similar...may be scientifically they are cousins. My grandmother's case was blindness brought on by severe cataracts. Today cataracts can be removed. Not in those days I was told.... thanks.

Ensurai said...

Sorry in those days, it was harder to remove her cataracts because physically we were told that she could not take it.

Ensurai said...

yes...Chinese wolfberry

Ann, Chen Jie Xue 陈洁雪 said...

very modern with golden kiwifruit.
Have you grown goji?

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