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Food in Chinese Culture





Chinese cooking is, in this sense, the manipulation of these foodstuffs as basic ingredients. Since ingredients are not the same everywhere, Chinese food begins to assume a local character simply by virtue of the ingredients it uses. Obviously ingredients are not sufficient for characterization, but they are a good beginning. Compare, for example, the above list with one in which dairy products occupy a prominent place, and one immediately comes upon a significant contrast between the two food traditions.

One important point about the distinctive assemblage of ingredients is its change through history. Concerning food, the Chinese are not nationalistic to the point of resisting imports. In fact, foreign foodstuffs have been readily adopted since the dawn of history. Wheat and sheep and goats were possibly introduced from western Asia in prehistoric times, many fruits and vegetables came in from central Asia during the Han and the T'ang periods, and peanuts and sweet potatoes from coastal traders during the Ming period. These all became integral ingredients of Chinese food. At the same time,. . . milk and dairy products, to this date, have not taken a prominent place in Chinese cuisine.

In the Chinese culture, the whole process of preparing food from raw ingredients to morsels ready for the mouth involves a complex of interrelated variables that is highly distinctive when compared with other food traditions of major magnitude. At the base of this complex is the division between fan, grains and other starch foods, and ts'ai, vegetable and meat dishes. To prepare a balanced meal, it must have an appropriate amount of both rice or noodle product and meat and vegetables, and ingredients are readied along both tracks. Grains are cooked whole or as flour, making up the fan half of the meal in various forms: fan (in the narrow sense, "cooked rice"), steamed wheat-, millet-, or corn-flour bread, ping ("pancakes"), and noodles. Vegetables and meats are cut up and mixed in various ways into individual dishes to constitute the ts'ai half. Even in meals in which the staple starch portion and the meat-and-vegetable portion are apparently joined together, such as in . . . "wonton" . . . they are in fact put together but not mixed up, and each still retains its due proportion and own distinction.

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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?