Chinese cuisine encompasses the numerous cuisines originating from China, as well as overseas cuisines created by the Chinese diaspora. Because of the Chinese diaspora and historical power of the country, Chinese cuisine has influenced many other cuisines in Asia and beyond, with modifications made to cater to local palates. Chinese food staples such as rice, soy sauce, noodles, tea, chili oil, and tofu, and utensils such as chopsticks and the wok, can now be found worldwide.
Color, scent and taste are the three traditional aspects used to describe Chinese food, as well as the meaning, appearance, and nutrition of the food. Cooking should be appraised with respect to the ingredients used, knife work, cooking time, and seasoning.
By the time of Confucius in the late Zhou, gastronomy had become a high art. Confucius discussed the principles of dining: "The rice would never be too white, the meat would never be too finely cut... When it was not cooked right, man would not eat. When it was cooked bad, man would not eat. When the meat was not cut properly, man would not eat. When the food was not prepared with the right sauce, man would not eat. Although there are plenty of meats, they should not be cooked more than staple food. There is no limit for alcohol, before a man gets drunk." The Lüshi chunqiu notes: "Only if one is chosen as the Son of Heaven will the tastiest delicacies be prepared [for him]."
During Shi Huangdi's Qin dynasty, the empire expanded into the south. By the time of the Han dynasty, the different regions and cuisines of China's people were linked by major canals and leading to greater complexity in the different regional cuisines. Not only is food seen as giving "qi", energy, but the food is also about maintaining yin and yang. The philosophy behind it was rooted in the I Ching and Chinese traditional medicine: food was judged for color, aroma, taste, and texture and a good meal was expected to balance the Four Natures ('hot', warm, cool, and 'cold') and the Five Tastes (pungent, sweet, sour, bitter, and salty). Salt was used as a preservative from early times, but in cooking was added in the form of soy sauce, and not at the table.
During the Han dynasty, the Chinese developed methods of food preservation for military rations during campaigns such as drying meat into jerky and cooking, roasting, and drying grain.Chinese legends claim that the roasted, flat bread shaobing was brought back from the Xiyu (the Western Regions, a name for Central Asia) by the Han dynasty General Ban Chao, and that it was originally known as hubing (胡餅, lit. "barbarian bread"). The shaobing is believed to be descended from the hubing. Shaobing is believed to be related to the Persian nan and Central Asian nan, as well as the Middle Eastern pita. Foreign westerners made and sold sesame cakes in China during the Tang dynasty.
During the Southern and Northern dynasties non-Han people like the Xianbei of Northern Wei introduced their cuisine to northern China, and these influences continued up to the Tang dynasty, popularizing meat like mutton and dairy products like goat milk, yogurts, and Kumis among even Han people. It was during the Song dynasty that Han Chinese developed an aversion to dairy products and abandoned the dairy foods introduced earlier.
The Han Chinese rebel Wang Su who received asylum in the Xianbei Northern Wei after fleeing from Southern Qi, at first could not stand eating dairy products like goat's milk and meat like mutton and had to consume tea and fish instead, but after a few years he was able to eat yogurt and lamb, and the Xianbei Emperor asked him which of the foods of China (Zhongguo) he preferred, fish vs mutton and tea vs yogurt.
The great migration of Chinese people south during the invasions preceding and during the Song dynasty increased the relative importance of southern Chinese staples such as rice and congee. Su Dongpo has improved the red braised pork as Dongpo pork. The dietary and culinary habits also changed greatly during this period, with many ingredients such as soy sauce and Central Asian influenced foods becoming widespread and the creation of important cookbooks such as the Shanjia Qinggong (Chinese: 山家清供; pinyin: shanjia qinggong) and the Wushi Zhongkuilu (Chinese: 吳氏中饋錄; pinyin: wushi zhoungkuilu) showing the respective esoteric foods and common household cuisine of the time.
As part of the last leg of the Columbian Exchange, Spanish and Portuguese traders began introducing foods from the New World to China through the port cities of Canton and Macau. Mexican chili peppers became essential ingredients in Sichuan cuisine and calorically dense potatoes and corn became staple foods across the northern plains.
There are a variety of styles of cooking in China, but most Chinese chefs classified eight regional cuisines according to their distinct tastes and local characteristics. A number of different styles contribute to Chinese cuisine but perhaps the best known and most influential are Cantonese cuisine, Shandong cuisine, Jiangsu cuisine (specifically Huaiyang cuisine) and Sichuan cuisine. These styles are distinctive from one another due to factors such as availability of resources, climate, geography, history, cooking techniques and lifestyle. One style may favour the use of garlic and shallots over chili and spices, while another may favour preparing seafood over other meats and fowl. Jiangsu cuisine favours cooking techniques such as braising and stewing, while Sichuan cuisine employs baking. Zhejiang cuisine focuses more on serving fresh food and shares some traits in common with Japanese food. Fujian cuisine is famous for its delicious seafood and soups and the use of spices. Hunan cuisine is famous for its hot and sour taste. Anhui cuisine incorporates wild food for an unusual taste and is wilder than Fujian cuisine.
Based on the raw materials and ingredients used, the method of preparation and cultural differences, a variety of foods with different flavors and textures are prepared in different regions of the country. Many traditional regional cuisines rely on basic methods of preservation such as drying, salting, pickling and fermentation.
Chinese ancestors successfully planted millet, rice, and other grains about 8,000 to 9,000 years ago. As for wheat, another staple, it took another three or four thousand years. For the first time, grains provided people with a steady supply of food. Because of the lack of various foods, Chinese people had to adapt to new eating habits. The meat was scarce at that time, that's why people cooked with small amounts of meat and rice or noodles.
Rice is a primary staple food for people from rice farming areas in southern China. Steamed rice, usually white rice, is the most commonly eaten form. People in South China also like to use rice to make congee as breakfast. Rice is also used to produce beer, baijiu and vinegar. Glutinous rice ("sticky rice") is a variety of rice used in special dishes such as lotus leaf rice and glutinous rice balls.
In wheat-farming areas in Northern China, people largely rely on flour-based food, such as noodles, bing (bread), jiaozi (a kind of Chinese dumplings), and mantou (a type of steamed buns). Wheat likely "appeared in the lower Yellow River around 2600 Before Common Era (BCE), followed by Gansu and Xinjiang around 1900 BCE and finally occurred in the middle Yellow River and Tibet regions by 1600 BCE".
Tofu is made of soybeans and is another popular food product that supplies protein. The production process of tofu varies from region to region, resulting in different kinds of tofu with a wide range of texture and taste. Other products such as soy milk, soy paste, soy oil, and fermented soy sauce are also important in Chinese cooking.
In some part of South China, soups are served between the cold dishes and the main dishes. In other parts of China, soups are served between the main dish and staple foods, before desserts or fruit salad. There are many traditional Chinese soups, such as wonton soup, herbal chicken soup, hot and sour soup, winter melon soup, and so on.
Where there are historical immigrant Chinese populations, the style of food has evolved and been adapted to local tastes and ingredients, and modified by the local cuisine, to greater or lesser extents. This has resulted in a deep Chinese influence on other national cuisines such as Cambodian cuisine, Filipino cuisine, Singaporean cuisine, Thai cuisine and Vietnamese cuisine. There are also a large number of forms of fusion cuisine, often popular in the country in question. Some, such as ramen (Japanese Chinese cuisine) have become popular internationally.
According to the report released by China's largest on-demand service platform in 2018, there are over 600,000 Chinese restaurants overseas. The report also pointed out that hotpot is the most popular food in the foreign market. Sichuan cuisine and some Chinese snacks and fast food followed in second and third place, respectively.
Youths should not begin eating before their elders do. When eating from a bowl, one should not hold it with its bottom part, because it resembles the act of begging. Chopsticks are the main eating utensils for Chinese food, which can be used to cut and pick up food. When someone is taking a break from eating at the table, they should not put the chopstick into the rice vertically, because it resembles the Chinese traditional funeral tribute, which involves putting chopsticks inside a bowl of rice vertically. It is considered inappropriate to use knives on the dining table. Chopsticks should not be waved around in the air or played with. Food should first be taken from the plate in front. It is considered impolite to stare at a plate. Watching TV, using mobile phones or doing other activities while eating is considered in poor taste. If an older person puts food in a younger person's bowl, the younger person should thank them. 041b061a72