Chinese Food

The Chinese culinary culture originated from the Shang Dynasty (ca. 15th to 11th century B.C.). China initiated the culinary art as early as the Shang and Zhou (ca. 11th century to 221 B.C.) times.

Chinese food, or say Chinese cooking, can be divided into several schools. There is an enormous variety of Chinese food that differs greatly from region to region. But it can be roughly divided into Northern and Southern styles. Or another way divides it into Beijing and the North, Shanghai and the East, Sichuan and the West, Canton and the South.

The best known regional variations of Northern Chinese cuisine include those of Beijing, Tianjin, and Shandong. Representatives of the Southern cooking style are Szechwan (or Sichuan) and Hunan cuisine, famous for their liberal use of garlic, scallions, and chilly. It is the spiciest region of Chinese food available and certainly very tasty. When prepared in a traditional manner, many of the dishes are very hot. Sichuan food is distinguished by its hot peppery taste, while food from neighboring Hunan province is richer and a bit more oily, and may be either spicy and hot or sweet and sour.

Within the whole of Southern cooking, Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang regions emphasis on freshness and tenderness, while Guangdong (Canton) cuisine tends to be somewhat sweet and more colorful, less spicy and is usually stir fried, which preserves both the texture and flavor.

In general, Northern dishes are relatively oily and the use of vinegar, green onion and garlic tends to be quite popular. Southern style tastes more with sweeter, sourer and lighter than the northern style.

The Chinese restaurants in the U.S. have reformed Chinese food to fit Americans' tastes. And most of them adopted Southern cooking style.

No matter it belongs to which cooking school, in Chinese cooking, color, aroma and flavor share equal importance in the preparation of every dish. All styles stress the method of cutting and slicing and the cooking temperature control. Nutrition is also an important concern. Many of the plants used in Chinese cooking, such as scallions, fresh ginger root, garlic, dried lily buds, tree fungus, etc. have properties of preventing and alleviating various illnesses. Therefore, the Chinese have a traditional belief in the medicinal value of food and that food and medicine share the same origin.

The two dominant philosophies of the Chinese culture are Confucianism and Taoism. Each influenced the course of Chinese history and the development of the culinary arts. Confucianism concerned itself with the art of cooking and placed great emphasis on the enjoyment of life. To the Chinese, food and friends are inseparable. A gathering without food is considered incomplete and improper.

Taoism was responsible for the development of the hygienic aspects of foods and cooking. The principle object of this philosophy was the nourishment of the body and the search for longevity.

For further information on Chinese food, click below:

Regent Tour China Food
Chinese Food Info


Want to try to cook some Chinese food at home? Click here to look at some good recipes: | recipe 1 | | recipe 2 | | recipe 3 | | recipe 4 |


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