Showing posts from April 22, 2018

Imperial-Style Thirst Water

I was trawling through a really large Yuan Dynasty cookbook The Compendium of Essential Arts for Family Living when I came across a section of recipes titled "thirst-waters."  Curious, I read more.

The book says that these recipes are called, in foreign lands, 攝里白 which in reconstructed Middle Chinese is something like "syep li baek."  A similar recipe I found in an anecdote in the 18th century Corrections to the Bencao Gangmu, relating a 14th century orchard of lemon trees planted by the Khan, says that the mongols call these drinks 舍里別 “syae li pjet.”

There's a category of Central- and West-Asian drinks that are fruit syrups dissolved into water called "sherbets," and that's indeed what these recipes are for.  The earliest references I've found to thirst-waters in China date to the 12th century, where the Old Stuff from the Martial Forest lists, but does not give recipes for seventeen drinks named "cool waters":
Sweet bean soupCoco…