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Food in Chinese Culture





Within the same culture, the food habits are not at all necessarily homogeneous. In fact, as a rule they are not. Within the same general food style, there are different manifestations of food variables of a smaller range, for different social situations. People of different social classes or occupations eat differently. People on festive occasions, in mourning, or on a daily routine eat again differently. Different religious sects have different eating codes. Men and women, in various stages of their lives, eat differently. Different individuals have different tastes. Some of these differences are ones of preference, but others may be downright prescribed. Identifying these differences, explaining them, and relating them to other facets of social life are again among the tasks of a serious scholar of food.

Finally, systematically articulated food variables can be laid out in a time perspective, as in historical periods of varying lengths. We see how food habits change and seek to explore the reasons and consequences.

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.


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they eat dog?!
Thank You Mr Chang, your essay was quite helpfull!
not that some cultures don't eat bugs as part of their cuisine.... i was simply trying to phrase it so that the most common people who have access to the internet would understand. BTW fried bugs are actually a delicacy, however much it sounds disgusting!
sorry for the double.... triple post :P
I agree with Kat, though in a sense, shouldn't that mean that we all should eat bugs? as they are the most common? the thought makes me shudder. though in truth, if i was asked whether i would starve or eat something truly disgusting, i would chose the latter. I would rather be alive and sick, than STARVING and sick.
I think this article is incredibly informative. I feel that dwelling on our own likes or dislikes about one ingredient mentioned one time does ourselves and the author a great disservice.
I'm indian but I would love to go to China and eat authentic Chinese food coz you know what you're getting is the real thing. I think the writer is right, few other cultures are as food oriented as the Chinese. They are so hospitable........
I need some information about production of new food and the chart of production of this and nutrient effect of this . can you help me ? can you give me a perfect information about this? if you can pleas send to my email .thanks
To me eating dog would be a crazy idea. But on the other hand I have to respect the cultural differences. What might seem normal to me, might be considered crazy by someone of another cultural background.
in my opinion when an economy such as china has a surplus population as it does and does not have enough resources such as beef as we do in the U.S. they must rely on what they have. if dog is all they have then they must eat it. Would you think differently of France because they eat Horse meat? Or mexico because they eat cats?