Chinese Food and Drink
Chinese culinary art has a long history and is world famous. The topography of China results in a variety of climates zones each with its own range of produce. History and customs have also played a part in the development of unique local and regional dishes and refreshments.
To tour China and appreciate Chinese food is to experience a taste sensation.
Local food means food with local characteristics. Chinese local food is said to be based on four major culinary schools. They are:
- Cantonese cuisine: This adopts the good points of all other culinary schools and its selection of materials is extensive. Aquatic products - river and seafood are widely used. Cantonese cuisine stresses the use of fresh materials and unique cooking methods. Representative dishes are stewed three kinds of snake, snake soup, casserole mountain turtle and crispy skin sucking pig.
- Shandong cuisine: Shandong food uses a wide range of fine ingredients and the school's treatment of seafoods shows considerable imagination. Representative dishes include stewed sea cucumber with scallions, stewed snakehead eggs, sea slugs with crab ovum; Dezhou grilled chicken and walnut kernel in cream soup.
- Sichuan cuisine: In China and abroad Sichuan cuisine is famous for its hot peppery flavor. The cuisine encompasses a wide variety of tastes and is summed up in the phrase " a hundred dishes with a hundred flavors." Famous dishes include saute shredded pork with fish flavor, saute diced pork, strange tasting chicken, stewed beancurd with minced pork in pepper sauce and dry roast rock carp.
- Huaiyang cuisine: Huaiyang cuisine is a combination of the best foods from Yangzhou, Zhenjiang, Huai'an and other places south of the Yangtze River and a representative of Jiangsu food. The cuisine stresses freshness and tenderness and the food is carefully prepared, bright in color and beautifully arranged; flavors are light. Famous dishes include beggar's chicken, fried mandarin fish with sweet and sour sauce, sliced chicken with egg white, salted duck, steamed crab meat and minced pork balls cooked in a casserole and steamed fish.
Special foods include:
- Imperial court food used to be cooked in the Imperial Kitchen for emperors and empresses.
The main characteristics of imperial court dishes are the care taken in the selection of ingredients, fine cooking and the fresh and tender taste. Imperial court dishes were carefully named and attention was given to condiments, exact proportions and style of serving.
- Vegetarian food has been popular since the Song Dynasty and underwent its greatest development during the Ming and Qing dynasties.
Vegetarian food is divided into three schools: monastery vegetarian food, court vegetarian food and folk vegetarian food.
The main features of vegetarian food are the unique styles and its nutritional value. Main materials include green leafed vegetables, fruit, edible mushrooms and beancurd products with vegetable oil used as a condiment. They taste delicious, contain rich nutrients and are easy to digest. It is thought that they help prevent cancer. Famous fishes include vegetarian" chicken" braised vegetarian "meat" with bean sauce, vegetarian " pork tripe" vegetarian " ham", vegetable accessories, gluten with mushroom, hot and sour beancurd slices, vegetarian "shrimps", Chinese toon "fish" and small soft vegetarian "pork". None of these dishes are really meat but are processed to look and taste like it.
- Medicinal dishes are also known as food therapy and are an important component in Chinese cuisine.
As early as the Warring States Period, the relationship between food and health was understood. Proper food can prolong life. China's master chefs have learned from the theories of traditional Chinese medicine and have established a scientific food therapy cuisine. Famous medicinal dishes include lily chicken soup, pearl powder shrimps, heavenly carp, preserved duck with bean sauce and minced pork Poris cocoas buns.
- Muslim food has developed since Islam became one of China's religions.
The Muslim food carries on the excellent cooking traditions of herdsmen in the ancient northwest and northeast China. Main dishes include mutton banquet, roast lamb, mutton slices rinsed in a chafing dish, mutton skewers, mutton with rice, buns soaked in mutton soup and soup of chopped entrails of sheep.