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Food in Chinese Culture




The above example shows that the Chinese way of eating is characterized by a notable flexibility and adaptability. Since a cai dish is made of a mixture of ingredients, its distinctive appearance, taste, and flavor do not depend on the exact number of ingredients, nor, in most cases, on any single item. The same is true for a meal, made up of a combination of dishes. In times of affluence, a few more expensive items may be added, but if the times are hard they may be omitted without doing irreparable damage. If the season is not quite right, substitutes may be used. With the basic principles, a Chinese cook can prepare "Chinese" dishes for the poor as well as the rich, in times of scarcity as well as abundance, and even in a foreign country without many familiar ingredients. The Chinese way of cooking must have helped the Chinese people through some hard times throughout their history. And, of course, one may also say that the Chinese cook the way they do because of their need and desire for adaptability.

This adaptability is shown in at least two other features. The first is the amazing knowledge the Chinese have acquired about their wild plant resources. . . . The Chinese peasants apparently know every edible plant in their environment, and plants there are many. Most do not ordinarily belong on the dinner table, but they may be easily adapted for consumption in time of famine. . . . Here again is this flexibility: A smaller number of familiar foodstuffs are used ordinarily, but, if needed, a greater variety of wild plants would be made use of. The knowledge of these "famine plants" was carefully handed down as a living culture -apparently this knowledge was not placed in dead storage too long or too often.

Another feature of Chinese food habits that contributed to their notable adaptability is the large number and great variety of preserved foods. . . . Food is preserved by smoking, salting, sugaring, steeping, pickling, drying, soaking in many kinds of soy sauces, and so forth, and the whole range of foodstuffs is involved-grains, meat, fruit, eggs, vegetables, and everything else. Again, with preserved food, the Chinese people were ever ready in the event of hardship or scarcity.

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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?