My own generalizations pertain above all to the question: What characterizes Chinese food? . . . I see the following common themes:
The food style of a culture is certainly first of all determined by the natural resources that are available for its use. . . . It is thus not surprising that Chinese food is above all characterized by an assemblage of plants and animals that grew prosperously in the Chinese land for a long time. A detailed list would be out of place here, and quantitative data are not available. The following enumeration is highly impressionistic:
Starch Staples: millet, rice, kao-liang, wheat, maize, buckwheat, yam, sweet potato.
Legumes: soybean, broad bean, peanut, mung bean.
Vegetables: malva, amaranth, Chinese cabbage, mustard green, turnip, radish, mushroom.
Fruits: peach, apricot, plum, apple, jujube date, pear, crab apple, mountain haw, longan, litchi, orange.
Meats: pork, dog, beef, mutton, venison, chicken, duck, goose, pheasant, many fishes.
Spices: red pepper, ginger, garlic, spring onion, cinnamon.