Chinese cuisine

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Chinese cuisine

Eight Great Traditions
Overseas Chinese

Chinese cuisine (Traditional Chinese: 中國菜 or 中餐, Simplified Chinese: 中国菜 or 中餐) originated from the various regions of China and has become widespread in many other parts of the world — from Asia to the Americas, Australia, Western Europe and Southern Africa. In recent years, connoisseurs of Chinese cuisine have also sprouted in Eastern Europe and South Asia. American Chinese cuisine and Canadian Chinese food are popular examples of local varieties.

Regional cultural differences vary greatly within China, giving rise to the different styles of food aross the nation. Traditionally there are eight main regional cuisines, or Eight Great Traditions (菜系): Anhui, Cantonese, Fujian, Hunan, Jiangsu, Shandong, Szechuan and Zhejiang. Sometimes four of the Eight Great Traditions are given greater emphasis, and are considered to dominate the culinary heritage of China, known in turn as the "Four Great Traditions"(四大菜系). [1] They are notably defined along geographical lines: Szechuan (Western China), Cantonese (Southern China),Shandong (Northern China), as well as Huaiyang Cuisine (Eastern China), a major style derived from Jiangsu cuisine and even viewed as the representation of that region's cooking.

In modern times, Beijing cuisine and Shanghai cuisine on occasion are also cited along with the classical eight regional styles as the Ten Great Traditions (十大菜系). There are also featured Buddhist and Muslim sub-cuisines within the greater Chinese cuisine, with an emphasis on vegetarian and halal-based diets respectively.

At London, you can find a superb example of Chinese cuisine: Alan Yau’s latest venture — Cha Cha Moon — located on Ganton Street (right next to Carnaby Street). A fast and casual Chinese noodle bar with communal seating (as if it was a highly fashioned canteen for common peasants of The People's Republic of China), Cha Cha Moon offers a wide array of noodle dishes from many regions of China and nearby countries. An explosive combination of traditional and cosmopolitan way of life, there you can try Singapore Fried Noodles, Malay Fujian Style Udon, Szechuan Wonton and Crispy Duck Lao Mian along with modern cocktails, such as the unique Shibuya Casual (with a Japanese name it contains sake [obviously], lychee and martini bianco) or the outstanding Wen Wen (vodka and raspberries). To finish your meal in this magical environment you must ask for a Black Dragon Tea...


[edit] Presentation

A Song Dynasty Chinese painting of an outdoor banquet, the painting is a remake of a Tang Dynasty original.

In most dishes in Chinese cuisine, food is prepared in bite-sized pieces, ready for direct picking up and eating. Traditionally, Chinese culture use chopsticks at the table. However, many non-Chinese are uncomfortable with allowing a person's individual utensils (which might have traces of saliva) to touch the communal food dishes.

[edit] Pork

Pork is generally preferred to beef in Chinese cuisine for economic and aesthetic reasons; swine are easy to feed and are not used for labour, and are so closely tied to the idea of domesticity that the character for "home" (家) depicts a pig under a roof. The colour of the meat and the fat of pork are regarded as more appetizing, while the taste and smell are described as sweeter and cleaner. It is also considered easier to digest. Buddhist cuisine restricts the use of meats and Chinese Islamic cuisine excludes pork. [2]

[edit] Vegetarianism

Vegetarianism is not uncommon or unusual in China; though, as is the case in the West, it is only practiced by a relatively small fraction of the population. Most Chinese vegetarians are Buddhists, following the Buddhist teachings about minimizing suffering. Chinese vegetarian dishes often contain large varieties of vegetables (e.g. Bok Choy, shiitake mushroom, sprouts, corn) and some imitation meat. Such imitation meat is created mostly with soy protein and/or wheat gluten to imitate the texture, taste, and appearance of duck, chicken, or pork. Imitation seafood items, made from other vegetable substances such as konjac, are also available.

[edit] Contemporary health trends

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates for 2001–2003, 12% of the population of the People’s Republic of China was undernourished.[3] The number of undernourished people in the country has fallen from 386.6 million in 1969–1971 to 150.0 million in 2001–2003.[4]

Undernourishment is a problem mainly in the central and western part of the country, while "unbalanced nutrition" is a problem in developed coastal and urban areas. Decades of food shortages and rationing ended in the 1980s. A study in 2004 showed that fat intake among urban dwellers had grown to 38.4 percent, beyond the 30 percent limit set by the World Health Organization. Excessive consumption of fats and animal protein has made chronic diseases more prevalent. As of 2008, 22.8 percent of the population were overweight and 18.8 percent had high blood pressure. The number of diabetes cases in China is the highest in the world. In 1959, the incidence of high blood pressure was only 5.9 percent.[5][6]

A typical Chinese peasant before industrialization would have eaten meat rarely and most meals would have consisted of rice accompanied with green vegetables, with protein coming from foods like peanuts and soya product. Fats and sugar were luxuries not eaten on a regular basis by most of the population. With increasing wealth, Chinese diets have become richer over time, consuming more meats, fats, and sugar.

Health advocates put some of the blame on the increased popularity of Western foods, especially fast food, and other culinary products and habits. Many Western, especially American, fast food chains have appeared in China, and are highly successful economically. These include McDonald's, Pizza Hut, and Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC).

An extensive epidemiological study called the China Project is being conducted to observe the relationship of disease patterns to diet, particularly the move from the traditional Chinese diet to one which incorporates more rich Western-style foods. Controversially, Professor T. Colin Campbell has implicated the increased consumption of animal protein in particular as having a strong correlation with cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and other diseases that, while common in Western countries, were once considered rare in China. He suggests that even a small increase in the consumption of animal protein can dramatically raise the risk of the aforementioned diseases.[citation needed]

[edit] See also

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[edit] Notes

  1. ^]
  2. ^ Tropp, Barbara (1982). The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking. New York: Hearst Books. pp. 183. ISBN 0-688-14611-2. 
  3. ^ "Country Profiles" (PDF). Statistical yearbook. FAO. Retrieved on 2008-04-25. 
  4. ^ "Undernourished persons by country". Food security statistics. FAO. Retrieved on 2008-04-25. 
  5. ^ "Nutritional diseases for residents in China on rise". People's Daily Online. 2005-10-24. Retrieved on 2008-04-25. 
  6. ^ "Less meat, please!". People's Daily Online. 2008-03-01. Retrieved on 2008-04-25. 

[edit] References

[edit] External links

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