Food and Culture

The Uses of Chinese Food

Chinese food, more popularly known as Chinese food is an integral part of Chinese culture and as such includes many cuisines originating in the many regions of China and from Overseas Chinese who have migrated to other regions of the west. As with any culture whose food traditions are passed on from one generation to another, every area of China has its own unique style of preparing food. This is further compounded by the fact that different areas in China also have different ethnic groups and different climate which affect the way Chinese prepare and cook their food. Although there may be some regional variation within certain areas, such as between the Shanxi Province and Tibet, there is much less regional variation within the vast majority of China.

The most popular Chinese dishes consist of those mainly found in Szechwan, China which are most commonly stir fried noodles known as chu li zi (lit: noodles in a white sauce), vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower, meat such as pork and beef, seafood such as oysters and crab, and fruits such as grapes and pears. The most popular Chinese drink is the green tea. In China, tea is considered to be good for health and is used both as a beverage and a medicine. Tea can be black, green, or oolong. Some tea is more expensive than others, depending on the quality.

There are many Chinese dishes which use ingredients such as ginger, garlic and soy sauce. Ginger is used in Szechwan Chinese food to help cool the digestive tract, and garlic helps release toxins from the body. Soy sauce is used in most Chinese recipes to give the dish a nutty taste, and also to aid in the digestion of food because it inhibits the digestive enzymes responsible for breaking down carbohydrates and fats. These enzymes are also responsible for the aroma that you often notice in Chinese food: as the name suggests, it is a kind of fragrance added to help mask the more offensive aromas of sour foods like garlic and onions. In Chinese cooking, soy sauce is sometimes added as an ingredient to replace other natural seasonings such as soy bean oil, sweetened soy sauce (soy seet) and hoisin sauce (Hoisin sauce – see below).