The Beijing Youth Daily’s hard-hitting, near-daily coverage of the price of watermelons in the capital city has dropped a bombshell: these “western melons” have risen nearly 1 Yuan in price this summer.
The reason? Floods, hot weather, and … traditional beliefs.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, foods are separated “hot type” foods and “cold type” foods, according to their affect on the body. Lychees, oranges, pineapples, pomegranates, mangoes, green onions, pepper, alcohol, and garlic are all “hot type,” while strawberries, mung beans, watermelons, tomatoes, and bitter melons are all “cold type.”
The classifications are paradoxical at times, as when something with a hot temperature is said to make the body cooler. Hot pu’er tea is supposed to make the body cool, although you’d be hard pressed to drink a steaming cup when you’re sweating through a hot day.
All of this combines to mean that during the recent heat wave that struck Beijing, Beijingers were out in force complaining of having “caught fire” and searching for the nearest watermelon stand. Pretty soon, these traditional beliefs had the price of watermelons doubled—and had me looking to turn my courtyard into a Chinese watermelon farm.