Ingredient Name: Fresh Ginger Peel (Dried)
Chinese Name: 薑皮 (jiāng pí)
I am writing about the ginger peel specifically because while normal people don’t use the skin very often, the Chinese highly value this “by-product” when it comes to confinement. It is commonly used for bathing purposes (either literally soaking the ginger peel in water and then rinsing your body with it or soaking your feet). What normally happens is that ginger is purchased in bulk (huge, huge amounts for confinement – especially the pig’s feet in ginger
dish) and none of the ginger is wasted.
Peel the ginger in its entirety. The peel is dried, while the ginger itself is cut up and used in various dishes and soups and stews. For me, I am not a heavy believer of washing my body in ginger peel water, but did end up soaking my poor sore feet. The tradition falls back to historical (pre-electricity) Chinese confinement practices. Back in the days, after a woman gave birth, she was susceptible to virus, bacteria, disease because of the weakened condition of her body (for more information, you can do some leisure reading on the confinement
practice). Ginger, being a heaty ingredient, enabled her body to stay and keep warm. Which is why she pretty much lived, consumed and breathed ginger. This also accounts for the reason why women were not allowed to wash their hair for a period of time after child birth – very likely because back then, drying the hair increased her risk because at some point, her hair would become cold (especially in the winter). Well, these days, we have the handy hair dryer and for those in colder climates, the benefit of a heating system – so the question is, do these traditions still apply?
Regardless, some traditions hold true and strong. My mother argues that the Chinese have thousands of years of history behind it and that as a western raised girl, I shouldn’t discount the power of generation-passed knowledge. Which is partially why I write and blog about everything I learn, because this is something I want to pass to my children eventually. Whether they take it with a grain of salt or think I’m off my rocker is a whole other story….
So to end this post, you’ll find within thechinesesouplady.com, we’ve got a host of information on confinement. That’s because collectively as a group of sisters, we’ve gone through 6 confinements personally and spoken to more sources than we can count on the practice. Veggie vendors, meat vendors, herbalists, the neighbor, your child’s classmate’s grandmother – everyone has a say and angle on confinement best practices and approaches. So please enjoy our collection of confinement soups and best practices.