Chinese Food

Among the most famous cuisines around the world is a place for Chinese cuisine. Extremely rich, varied and symbolic, Chinese cuisine is often misunderstood by Westerners that mistakenly think that spring rolls and dog meat are a part of the daily consumption in China.

Diverse Cuisines

With a vast territory, a different climate in each region and varied peoples, it is not surprising that China has various types of cuisines. With exchanges between the different ethnic groups in each region there are an incredible selection of dishes. There are more than 5,000 dishes that are discovered in China, but depends on where you are and the season.
With the geographical and climatic variety, there are 160 types of vegetables including 100 that are popular. Compared to France, the Chinese have many edible mushrooms and they make all the sauces.
In southern China, including Guangzhou, they say, “eat anything that has four legs, except tables and anything that flies except airplanes." This is an original way of saying they eat anything that moves. In Guangdong province, you can find pangolin, ants, monkey brains, shark fin and many other types of food on their tables. With animal protection rules these dishes are now banned in China, but there are still some dishes that are part of the daily diet in Cantonese speaking regions including, turtles or snakes.
The Chinese have many types of common dishes. Whether in a large restaurant or a medium-sized restaurant that serves daily meals, it will always propose dozens of dishes, even hundreds.

Food and Chinese Medicine

Many scholars argue that food has medicinal properties. A Chinese proverb states, "If you hurt somewhere, eat this part of the animal." Thus, for a stomach ache, drink soup stomach of an animal. The taste does not matter as long as the benefits are alleviate the symptoms.

5 elements of a delicious dish

The taste is important but it isn’t the most important part of the dish. Fresh color, sweet flavor, presentation and service are as crucial as the flavor.
Colors include red, yellow, green or white colors that attract the eye. Question presentation, vegetables (tomatoes, turnips, cucumbers) are often carved or engraved to make appetizing dish. Sauces are added to give a fragrant fried button. Chinese dishes vary in taste from sweet, salty, sour to spicy.
Finally, the meaning is important in Chinese cuisine. Thus, for a student who seeks to pass an exam, their parents will ask him or her to eat carp. This fish is known to overcome all obstacles and jump high to get up the river, which is a symbol of success.
Similarly, in the Chinese New Year, each offers its importance: oranges for luck and wealth; fish for wealth; chicken for luck; chestnuts for better income; soy cheese for hope to get rich.
Newlyweds eat glutinous rice balls, indicating a harmonious marriage and their parents provide them with nuts, dates, sweets or oranges in hopes that they’ll have a son soon.

The main cooking methods

All methods of cooking are used in China including, stewed, steamed, fried, grilled, and fried in a small amount of oil. However, among these methods, three are popular in China which are frying, steaming, and cooking in boiling water.
Everyone has heard of the wok, which is an indispensable instrument of Chinese cuisine. Used mainly for stir-frying, it can fry in oil while a surface in contact with the more superior to flat pans flames. 
The steaming is not ecological since it takes more time and energy (gas or electricity). However, the objective is to keep all the flavors and virtue of foods.
The Chinese Han, are the majority ethnic group and eat very little grilled foods. Muslims and Mongols on the other are fond of grilling food. This is also borrowing method of minorities such as the Han whom invented the duck, one of the few dishes "grilled" in their kitchen.

A balance within the dish

Somewhat in the same vein as traditional medicine, Chinese dishes are balanced between vegetables and meat. It is rare to have a flat only meat but much less for vegetables which vary. Most often there are vegetables and small quantities of meat. In each dish, there is usually a main ingredient (meat or vegetable) with two or three additional ingredients of a different color.
Similarly, there is a balance between yin and yang. Thus, in Chinese medicine, foods are either yin or yang. A dish still has food in both categories. This is the case for crabs belonging to yin and ginger sauce that belongs to yang.
However, beware, it is always necessary that the taste of the food in harmony. Do not put something spicy with something else that has no taste. The pepper is used for a hidden taste that is very strong.
Finally, each season has its specialties and vegetables as well as its rules. In the West, summer salads and soups in the winter are preferred in some regions which is the same in  China.
Be aware that a meal in China consists of an assortment of dishes usually served with rice in the southern part of the country and noodles in the north. 

Four big Chinese cuisines

The country is so vast that each province has its own culinary methods, including intraregional that has different cuisines. However, four schools of Chinese cuisine are famous in China and abroad.
In the north dishes are often larger, while in the south they’re more refined and smaller.
Shandong cuisine: This kitchen also called Lucai is fairly common in the north because it influences other coastal areas in the eastern part of China and arrived in Beijing. Foods are fried on high (bao), cooked in gravy (shao), fried in oil (zha) or fried (chao), all dishes are delicate and subtle. Since it is a coastal area, the kitchen specializes in seafood accompanied by a delicate sauce.
Examples: Yellow River Carp in sweet and sour sauce, conch cooked gravy, grilled jumbo shrimp, cubilose soup, fried conch, stew abalone, milky soup to nuts, and Dezhou chicken.
Sichuan cuisine: Undoubtedly one of the most famous types of food from this region is very spicy with spices and fat. This cuisine has spread to other provinces in China and worldwide.  There are 23 flavors that you can taste in Szechuan dishes.
Examples: Fondue Sichuan, chopped cooked dry eel stewed chicken with extraordinary taste, tofu with spices, minced pork with spicy sauce, sautéed chicken with peanuts and chili.
Cantonese cuisine: It makes you wonder if the food is not better abroad than in China. 
The dishes vary and are presented in an original way they returned to the pan, fried, stewed or fried.
Examples: Peeled shrimp, roast suckling pig, game snake, dragon, tiger and phoenix, five snakes broth, grilled with salt and cayenne pepper chicken, beef with oyster sauce, stuffed squash cooked steam.
Huaiyang cuisine: Coming Jiangsu is one of the most delicate cuisines of China. It often takes a lot of preparation. The dishes are usually not spicy but sweet and vinegar are in it. It is the imperial kitchen and formal banquets.
Examples: Chicken Beggar, duck cooked in salted water, ball pork and mashed crab, eel soft, Manchu - Han banquet.

The contribution of Chinese cuisine

One of the great inventions that revolutionized the world food is tofu, in 164 BCE. Vegetarians are glad that China has found a way to replace the protein that is found in meat.
Although soy is nutritious, it can lead to digestive problems in daily life. Tofu, egg white extract plant (including soybean is very rich) is an ideal alternative. Cheaper, better quality and good for health, it has spread rapidly in the vegetarian community abroad as well as Chinese cuisine. It is an indispensable food in Chinese cuisine as well as Korean, Vietnamese and Japanese!
Chinese dumplings or Jiaozi, are also popular. They were originally reserved for the Chinese New Year, but eventually become a daily type of food. It is now one of the most popular foods in the world and has many varieties.
Spring rolls (not to be confused with Vietnamese spring rolls are) are also popular in China. They are prepared for the Chinese Toussaint (Qing Ming festival) that takes place in the spring. Easily transportable, it was in the offering to the “mangeaitaussi” tomb and was considered a tradition in some areas by eating cold food.
The first traces of pasta originated in China when noodles were consumed five thousand years ago . Popular in the northern part of the country, they are a staple food of the population.

Common Misconceptions

Not all Chinese people eat rice as wheat has become a major staple food for quite some time.This has long been a country that cultivates wheat (it is more than 3,000 years). Often separating northeast China where wheat is the staple diet and southern China where rice is preferred.
Cantonese rice is not a specialty in itself. For the Chinese across the country, it is a simple dish of fried rice with omelet. Restaurants in the West have created popular English dishes to mimic it calling it, “fried rice.”
Another misconception is that Chinese people eat dog.  Asian countries are known for really different specialties in the West but it is now forbidden to eat dog. Formerly, before the Song (tenth century) dynasty, the people of Guangdong, Guangxi and Vietnam consumed it regularly. However, the emperor was born under the sign of the dog, forbid the eating of dog.
Also, under the Ming (XIV century) dynasty, a book of traditional medicine cited dog meat to promote health, stomach, kidney and yang (opposite yin). Today, this tradition has been lost, but many parts still offer this type of meat: South Korea, Guizhou, Hunan, Guangxi, Guangdong and Fujian. However, you should not worry since, you will not eat the dog while you travel.
Many believe that spring rolls are Chinese, however, they are commonly found in Viatnamese cuisine using the Vietnamese nem to wrap a sheet of rice while spring rolls, Chinese style, are wrapped in a sheet of flour.

Table Manners

Here are some rules to follow when you are invited to eat, whether in a restaurant or with a family in China:

  • Wait for the elderly to sit at the table
  • Older people are the first to use
  • The most important people generally face the door, you can wait for someone to tell you where to sit
  • When there are multiple tables, people are divided by generation
  • There is no need to choose the most expensive dishes as the most simple dish to show the skill of the cook. In addition, expensive dishes may be sophisticated and foods that may seem strange to foreigners
  • Share all the dishes
  • To take a piece, do not choose the flat, but take what comes, and if the best piece is the other side of the plate, it will be for someone else
  • Lay the strips on the object is made to or on the bowl but still flat and when the sticks are picnic is ominous sign
  • Do not play with chopsticks
  • Do not cross chopsticks with those of another person when you want to use them
  • Do not lean toward the bowl of rice, but bring the bowl of rice to you
  • When you take the bowl, do not support it but take the side
  • Do not waste it, but it does not mean completely finish the dishes and pour the sauce into the rice
  • Do not return the bowls and plates
  • Do not hit the glass to make a speech but simply announce loudly
  • Do not stand up to achieve a flat but ask someone else to let you go
  • Do not open your mouth to chew
  • A toast is a way to pay your respects. It is therefore a toast with older persons or senior. Usually a person is invited to toast at a time but can happen to invite more if they are in the same position. When you drink with a larger person or older than us, our glass must be below his. Before the toast, whether gulp drinking or not. It is more lenient with women and older people who drink less and so you can drink a soft drink.


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