The single-story, wood-paneled home nestled into the rolling hills of the Laurel Highlands is so nondescript you might pass it by if not for a modest sign that reads Mountain Palace and a 66-foot access ramp leading to the front door. Inside Lingzhi “Lacy” Cai offers up the ingredients of a healthy lifestyle including Northern Chinese cuisine and acupressure.
Dumplings are the centerpiece of a menu that also includes a traditional hot pot and weekly specials. Ingredients such as wood ear mushrooms, Chinese radish, ginger and Szechuan pepper are chosen for flavor but also for their health benefits. In addition, Dr. Cai teaches classes in Chinese Meridian System Acupressure to relieve maladies ranging from lower backaches to anxiety and has produced a DVD on traditional Chinese medical exercise.
The borough of Bolivar, 60 miles east of Pittsburgh in Westmoreland County, may seem an unlikely location for such a business. But the story of how it came about gives insight to the way demographics are changing in the region and to the accompanying embrace of new cultures.