The Roots Of Chinese Food Culture


A plate of food on a table

If you are not a Chinese person and do not have much knowledge about Chinese food culture, then this article will be beneficial to you. The term culture in food studies refers to the general pattern or model of social organization of a community or group of individuals who share it. People of other cultures also share various food preparations, which is why they also share the same assemblage of fundamental food factors. Hence, when we say that a certain food culture exists in some countries and regions of the world than in other countries and regions, what we really mean is the social system which exists in those regions where such traditional food preparations prevail.

This means that there is a much bigger variation in Chinese cuisine. There are several types of cooking styles in China such as: Wok cooking, stir-frying, stir-fry, noodles, steamed vegetables, meat dishes, vegetarian dishes, fruit dishes and desserts. Thus, you can say that Chinese food culture is characterized by numerous regional differences. One example of regional diversity is the creation of various kinds of noodles; Cantonese, Northern, Szechwan, Northern Chinese and Southern Chinese noodles.

The Noodle Soup Recipe

A bowl of food on a plate

The Noodle Soup Recipe is a typical dish from China’s Wuyi cuisine that originated during the time of the Later Dynasty of Heaven Court. According to early writings, the noodles used in this dish were thin, oval-shaped wheat or grain like strands. When mixed with water and beef or pork, this nutritious soup became popular as the most favorite food of the Chinese. 

Noodles are available in many types today and are often cooked in different ways. Some of the most famous noodle dishes of China are: Spring Rolls, Rice Pies, Tasty Rice Cakes, Dumplings and Fried Sticky Noodles. Chinese food culture has evolved and influenced other countries especially the US by bringing in not only Chinese foods but also non-Chinese foods such as French fries and hamburgers.

Nazi 

A person holding an animal

Another Chinese food culture phenomenon that you can find is the use of traditional Chinese herbs for seasoning and ingredients. These ingredients have their own distinct flavors and aroma. Chinese herbs or ‘Nazi’ are mainly utilized for flavoring sauces and soups and are usually prepared by steaming, baking and then frying. The most famous herbs are: Tongkat Ali, Fujjiao, Xing Chan, Liu Jiu, Bo He, Rooibos, Kelp, Kitsun and Ginseng. These ingredients are usually used together with meats and seafood dishes.

Food habits of Chinese people also emphasize on the usage of condiments in their dishes. Unlike westerners, in China, people tend to eat on the side of the plate rather than on the table as it’s a social standard. In a typical meal in China, the host will take the main dish, place the vegetables on top and then serve the meat, seafood and another condiment depending on the taste of the diner. Dishes served on the side are served for pickling, steaming, stir frying, etc.

A Variety Of Techniques And Ingredients Used

Food preparation in the Chinese culture is characterized by a variety of techniques and ingredients used, which give Chinese cooking a distinctive taste. Some of the famous Chinese cuisines are: Szechuan, Hunan, Northern Chinese, Hong Kong, Cantonese, Taiwanese and Japanese cuisines. These various cuisines have brought different spices from various regions and thus, have added to the diversity of Chinese cooking.

Chinese cuisine is characterized by extensive use of seasonings, vegetables, herbs, fresh fruits and fish and meat combinations with varying degrees of cooking ability. The seasonings are very important in Chinese culture, as these ingredients offer numerous health benefits to the consumer. A typical Chinese dish would be incomplete without Chinese seasonings such as: onion, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, corn starch, salt, pepper, and vinegar or lemon juice. These ingredients not only add rich flavor and aroma to the food but also have antibiotic and nutritional properties.

Final Words

Lastly, the Chinese culture is marked by its strong religious beliefs. As China was conquered by several foreign powers, the religious beliefs changed over time. One of the biggest changes was in regards to eating habits as people became more interested in dieting and weight loss. The result was that the traditional food habits of China started to fall away and were replaced by western eating habits, which were more influenced by western cultures and environments. Today, one of the most popular trends in China is the fast food culture which emphasizes eating quickly and having large portions of food. Although Chinese people are known to be some of the healthiest people in the world, it is up to us as consumers to learn about Chinese food variables and adopt them into our own eating habits.

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