Title of Book.
photo of pears on a tree
Excerpted from Ancient Wisdom, Modern Kitchen: Recipes from the East for Health, Healing, and Long Life (Da Capo Lifelong Books)

Breathe-Easy Fritillaria Pear


About 1 tablespoon (10 grams) fritillaria (chuan bei mu)
1 large ripe pear, any variety
2 teaspoons honey, or to taste


1) Place the fritillaria in a coffee mill, spice grinder, or food processor and whir into a powder (this may take some time).
2) Wash (but don't peel) the pear. Cut off the top third of the pear and reserve. Cut out the core of the bottom part of the pear, making a hole but leaving the bottom and outside intact.
3) Place the fritillaria powder in the hole, then add the honey. Replace the top of the pear.
4) Transfer the pear to a steamer and cook, covered, for about 40 minutes, or until soft. (If you don't have a steamer, steam the pear in a glass or ceramic bowl placed in a covered pot containing an inch of water.)
5) Serve warm as a dessert or snack.

Themes and Variations

1) The pears can be baked instead of steamed. Preheat the to 350 degrees and bake for about 40 minutes or until soft.
2) Try this dish with an Asian pear - a delicious variation.

Especially Good for

Anyone suffering from a dry cough, dry throat, bronchitis, asthma, or allergies. If you are eating this dish for therapeutic reasons, we recommend eating this dish once a day for three to seven days.

About Fritillaria

Fritillaria (a.k.a. Fritillariae Cirrhosae or chuan bei mu, which literally translates from the Chinese as "shell mother from Sichuan," grows in China and Nepal and produces a white bulb that is bitter and sweet. In addition to its uses to clear the lungs, in China the bulbs also have a tradition of use against breast and lung cancer.

For Those Familiar With Chinese Medicine

This dish moistens the Lung, clears Heat, and transforms phlegm.

Legend Has It

Once there was a poor farmer who had many children. One of them had severe breathing difficulties and everyone, including the doctors, thought the child would die. But the father, who was a stern man, said to the child, "Just because you are sick doesn't mean you can't be useful around here. I want you to keep an eye on the pear garden."

One day, a strong wind came and blew many unripe pears off the tree. The father saw an opportunity to save money on rice and insisted the family pick up the pears and eat them day in and day out. A few months later, the child happened to meet one of the doctors.

"You look much healthier!" said the doctor, surprised. "Have you been taking a special medicine?"

"No," said the child. "All I have been eating is pears."

The next day, the doctor came to the farmer's house to pick up some pears to bring to patients with lung problems. Doctors and patients alike were amazed at how the pears helped in patients' recovery. Since then, pears have been used with success to treat respiratory problems.

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