Travel, Teach, Live in China

Cultural Foods of China
By:Racheal Ambrose

All chinese cuisine is based in eight categories. These are:
    Anhui
    Cantonese
    Fujian
    Hunan
    Jiangsu
    Shandong
    Sichuan
    Zhejiang

Most of these cuisines are based on geography. Food is made or cut into bite-sized pieces so that you can eat it with chopsticks. Flavor, texture and color are all important factors when selecting ingredients. When using meat, most of the animal is used. Additionally, tea has been consumed in China for over 4,000 years and is an important part of general Chinese diet and culture.

Anhui and Jiangsu
Anhui cuisine comes from the Huangshan Mountains. It uses wild herbs and is prepared simply, primarily by braising and stewing. Stewed soft-shell turtle with ham, steamed stone frog and Li Hongzhang hodge-podge are popular dishes.

Jiangsu foods come from the Jiangsu area in China. Dishes are made according to season. Famous dishes include Hong Shao Paigu, watermelon chicken and whitebait omelet.

Cantonese and Zhejiang
Cantonese cuisine comes from southern China. It uses most edible meats, and steaming and stir-frying are the preferred methods of preparation. Spice use is moderate. Famous dishes include shark fin soup, beef chow fun and Cha Leung.

Zhejiang has a mellow fragrance. It comes from the Zhejiang region of China. Common dishes are dongpo rou and beggar's chicken.

Fujian and Hunan
Originated in Fujian, China, Fujian cuisine is light and well flavored. Knife techniques are important to preparation. Peanuts are a common ingredient. Famous dishes include wuxian, popiah and ban mian.

Hunan cusine can be found in the areas of the Xiang River, Dongting Lake and western Hunan province. Hunan cuisine is hot and spicy. Famous dishes include Mao's braised pork, beer duck, and hot and peppery chicken.

Sichuan and Shandong
Sichuan uses garlic and chili peppers, and originated in the Sichuan area in southwest China. Pickling, salting, drying and smoking are common preparation methods. Common dishes are tea-smoked duck, mapo dofu and twice-cooked pork.

Shandong cuisine influenced most modern Chinese foods. It uses seafood, corn, vinegar and peanuts in many dishes. Some famous dishes are basi digua, baochao yaohua and jiuqu dachang.

Tea
Tea is an important part of Chinese cuisine; the Chinese are meticulous with their tea and the way they drink it. They require high quality tea leaves, water, and even teapots and saucers. Seven different types of tea exist: green, jasmine, white, black, brick, Oolong and keep-fit teas.

Balance
The Chinese believe that everything should be balanced, or yin and yang. Balance is an important part of cooking. Foods are yin if they are cool or wet. Yang foods are hot and dry. If there is too much of either in a diet, health problems arise. Food is chosen according to season and balance rather than nutritional value.


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