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right memory, and rigiit meditation."
Other virtues especially commended by
the Buddhist religion are "almsgiving,
purity, patience, c()urag(v charity, con-
templation, and knowledg(\"

The progress of Christianity in China
was slow for nianv centuries, but the



CANTON




West on Central Promenade, Place of Foreign
Legations

patience and pei-scverance of the mis-
sionaries have had tlieir effect, and the
well-known ''heathen Chinee" is not such
a heatli(>n as in former years.

Christianity was introduced into China
in the sixth century. The Jesuit fathers,




Shappat l*\rorrison. the
first Protestant missionary in Canton.

"RATS, CATS, AND "

ERY pr()l)ably the credulity
of the r(vi(l(^r has been
sorely tried at times in
the reading of previous
chapters, for, haA'iug lived
the fairly w(41-ordered life
of the occidental, he finds
it dillicult to believe in
the authenticity of some of the incidents
intended to show something of manners
and customs in Canton. In the present
chapter his faith will possi])ly l)e even
more sorely tried, and perhaps his cre-
dulity will turn to incredulity, because this




CANTON



is the strangest and most unbelievable
chapter of them all. Still, he may accept
(he customs described in the following —
as well as those described in the preceding
chapters — as the entire truth, for that is
what they are. Canton , surely, has earned
the name of "Canton the Unbelievable!"

This chapter has to do with the
culinary tastes of the Cantonese. One
thing which surprises the traveler in
Canton is that chop suey and other pre-
sumably native Chinese dishes are not
native (Hiinese dishes at all, but concoc-
tions ])repared by Chinese restaurants in
the Occident and intended almost solely
for .Vmerican and European consumption.
The percentage of the people in Canton
who eat chop suey is prol)ably not as
great as the percentage of occidentals '
who eat it in their o^ai countries.

In all probai)ility the foods most fa-
vored — hi Canton at any rate — would
find little favor with any iVmcrican, and
were the Chinese restaurants in the
United States to serve food most highly
relished by many of the Cantonese, they
would find themselves without patrons in
short order. And so for that reason,




Imperial Post Office, Canton

peihaps, the Chinese restaurant keepei's
in the United States are justified in in-
venting their special preparations and
serving them to trustful Americans, who
labor under the delusion that they are
dhiing on native Chinese foods.

Forty- Three



CANTON




A Fuchow Maid on the Bund, Canton

The reader lias already learned that
cockroaches in honey and snr.kes in ])roth
are favorite foods with some classes of

Forty- Four



people in Canton, but these strange
dishes are not the only ones of their kind
enjoyed by the Cantonese. Rats, cats,
and young dogs are highly prized by epi-
cureans of one class or another in Canton;
and so the old jingle about ''Rats, cats,
and puppy-dog tails" is not very much
amiss when applied to Canton.

In recent years rat eating has been for-
bidden in Canton, since the authorities
have come to realize that the creatures
spread several dang(n'ous diseases, the
most dread among them l)eing the bubonic
plague; but even now, many of the people
ni the lower classes find it impossible to
resist the temptation offered l)y the sight
of fat, gray rats, and go ahead and eat
them despite all laws and regulations to
the contrary.

The upper classes never favoretl the
commion gray rat particularly, but ate a
species of field rat^quite different from
the other kind and declared to be most
appetizing. However, the practice of
rat eating is not so general in China as
formerly. As a rule, it is indulged in
only by people who can not afford other
kinds of meat.



CANTON



Young dogs and old cats are still
relished by tlie Cantonese, who value
them as lelicacies suited to the most
jKirticular palate, and the lives of dogs
are as insecure in the city as the lives of
dogs in Indian camps during times of
famine, while many a cat has sung its
midnight song on a Chinese fence and
gone to make a Chinese stew before the
night again succeeds the day.

Despite the popularity of rats, cats,
and dogs as food in Canton, there is
another creature whos(> flesh is considered
as ])eing even more delicious ])y many of
the nativ(>s, both high and low caste,
and that creature is the snake, which has
been mentioned in previous chapt(>rs.
Some of the Cantonese prefer to have the
snakes served in broth, while others prefer
them roasted to a crisp. It is a moot
question among travelers as to which
style of cooking is most highly favored by
the natives. Xonpoisonous snakes are
the most popular, the finest specimens
hrino-ino; ss or S9 in the markets.

The people of Canton understand per-
fectly well the gastric qualms of occi-
dentals who hear of some of the favorite





The Old Executioner and If is Knife, I-xecution Grounds
Canton

Chinese dishes; hut they do not permit
such gastric qualms to change their eating

Forty- Five



CANTON




Government Officials who Coin China's Fifty-cent Silver
Dollars, Imperial Mint Gardens, Canton

habits. "Some Anioricau and European
foods are as revolting to us as snakes,
dogs, and cats — as food — are to you,"
they say, "and there is no more reason
why wo should deny ourselves these

Forty-Six





culinary dainties than you should deny
yourselves your favorite dish(>s because
thev niay happen to l)e out of harmony
with our sense of tastes."

IDOLS AND POTTERY

|AXTOX, besides bt'ing one
of the strangest cities in
the Orient, from the trav-
eler's viewpoint, is also
one of the pi'incipal manu-
facturing cities of the
counti'v. A majority of
the in.lustries in Canton
are carried on by the 75 or SO trade guilds,
some of whom have entire districts devoted
to tiie proihiction of their respective wares.
The outj)ut of the Canton trade guilds
includes humh"eds of articles of UKTchan-
dis>', ]-anging from idols to ])()ttery, and
running the whole ganuit of export goods —
from hair, silk, (Mnbroitleri(>s, jade, carved
woods, candied ginger, and other Chinese
sweetmeats, to fans and lacfjuer ware.

The district of the l)lackwood-cutters'
guild ofTei-s one of the most interesting
sights in Canton. Few travelei-s ever
visit the city without directing their sedan-



CANTON



chair coolic^s to carry them along Yiick
Tszo and Tai-son-kai Streets, and the Ohl
Factory (Hstrict where most of the shops
in tlie guihl are located.

Solenm Cliinamen squat in front of
partially completed idols, whose mys-
terious faces are hardly more strange than
th(^ saffron countenances of their makers.
The idol carvere, after putting the finish-
ing touches on the images, cover them
with gold leaf or gilt, and dispose of them
to native purchasers, and sometimes to
souvenir-seeking foreigners.

Natives engaged in turning out ca])i-
nets, chairs, l)uffets, tahles, and other
articles of the sort, will tell the visitor —
with iliokers of pride in their usually ex-
pressionless faces — that their ancestors
worked in the same shop, making the same
kind of articles, long before the "foreign
devils" ever came to China. Wlien the
faltering hand of an aged father dropped
the carving tools, leaving, say, an idol or a
chair half completed, the youthful hand
of his son would pick up the carving tools,
and the son would cany on the work
wlier(> his father left off — just as his
father carried on the work after his grand-




fatlun-, and his grandfather carried on the
work after his great grandfather, and so
on down through the centuries. It is a
fatalistic, initiative-destroying custom —
typical of the strange manners and cus-
touis of old China.

Buddhist images and pi


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Online LibraryUnited States. Bureau of Naval PersonnelCanton, China → online text (page 3 of 3)