Chinese cuisine and drink play a major role in its culture and China has made great contributions to the world in regard to food resource exploration, dietary treatment, nutrition and health care, dishware design, and cuisine aesthetics.
Intellectuals in China have created countless dishes with engaging names, aromas, flavors and colors – all of which have enhanced the dining experience. During these four or five thousand years of development, Chinese cuisine absorbed various features from different time periods and regions.
Generally speaking, people in this country mainly live on five common cereals and vegetables, which are complimented by a small supply of meat. The eating habits of China are influenced by the country’s focus on agriculture. The primary basis of any dish features cooked, hot ingredients that reflect the country’s advanced culinary skills and long history of civilization.
China is a vast country with many different regions, and for nearly one thousand years, the northern city of Peking (now Beijing) has been the capital. Visiting dignitaries brought their chefs and culinary traditions from other parts of China, and through a mixture of cooperation and rivalry, the region developed a light and elegant haute cuisine.
Cantonese cooking in the South is colorful and sophisticated, based on abundant fresh vegetables, fish and seafood. Stir-frying was perfected here, and Canton is the home of Dim Sum, which translates “to please the heart.”
Eastern Chinese cuisine is divided into several styles. The region North of the Yangtze delta is famous for noodles and dumplings and is the home of the renowned Lion’s Head Casserole. The southern provinces are known as the “Land of Fish and Rice”, although their cuisine includes duck and pork dishes. The port of Shanghai has a unique style, influenced by the West as well as many parts of China.
The cuisine of Szechuan in the West of China is well known for its superb balance of spices and aromatic flavorings. Chilies and Szechuan peppercorns are vital to the cuisine and dishes are piquant and full of zest.
What all the classic dishes of the regional cuisines have in common is a harmonious balance of flavors, colors, textures, and excellence. Chinese cooking is best known for its delicacy and refinement – a result that was 5,000 years in the making!
With a profound history of over 4,000 years, Chinese tea is regarded as an exquisite art form. Now it has become the national drink and one of the three most popular drinks in the world, the others are coffee and cocoa).
Everything from planting tea, to processing and drinking originated in China – along with the famous tea ceremony. Known as the Hometown of Tea, the land can be divided into four growing regions: South China, Southwestern China, and Yangtze River’s north and south banks.
These vast planting areas grow various types of tea trees, and each flavor of tea requires its own specific tea sets, including tea cups, pots, and saucers. The materials used differ from each region and include porcelain, pottery, lacquer ware, glass, bamboo, and wooden fish stone. The popular tea ceremony is considered to help cultivate the minds of those who partake. Through infusing, appreciating, and tasting tea, people nourish their inborn nature and while growing their relationships with one another.
Alcohol may be featured at sumptuous banquets to encourage the expression of diners’ thoughts and feelings. Throughout Chinese history, alcohol is not only an objective existence but also a cultural symbol. China was one of the earliest countries in the world to make alcohol and its history can be traced back to prehistoric times.
Alcohol is more than a drink in China; it is endowed with spiritual and cultural value. It touches every aspect of life – including literature, aesthetic ideals, and society itself. From this point of view, drinking alcohol allows one to actually to taste a culture.
According to the historical records, as early as in the Shang Dynasty (16th – 11th century BC), Chinese people began to drink alcohol and use it to worship Gods. All types of alcohol, except yellow rice wine, developed greatly after the Han (206 -220 BC) and Tang (618-907 BC) dynasties.
Chinese alcohols can be divided into yellow rice wine, white wine, medicinal liquor, fruit liquor, and beer. By the alcoholic content, they can be grouped into strong alcohol liquor, medium alcohol liquor, and low alcohol liquor. In recent years, the Chinese winemaking industry has grown and prospered.