Chinese Food and Eating Traditions
Chinese Food and Eating Traditions
Each country has its unique cuisine that differs in taste due to the different spices and ingredients. The Chinese culture is known for its food worldwide due to its aromatic flavors that combine different tastes in one. While we're familiar with some dishes, Chinese food comes with a diverse menu and some unique eating traditions. The country has held on to their traditions and continues to bring the best Chinese food to the market.
Balancing the Yin and Yang
Chinese food doesn't follow a balanced healthy diet, but it emphasizes balancing the yin and yang. The culture believes in living a healthy and harmonious life by balancing the yin and yang. Hence, they eat hot and warm food to balance the yang, while the yin relies on cool and cold food. This helps them maintain a healthy lifestyle.
The geographical and climate differences in China indicate the eating habits in China. People who live in a damp and cold environment eat hot and spicy food, as they believe it increases blood circulation to get rid of the cold. In contrast, those who live in a warmer climate eat mild food that reduces the hotness and dryness.
Cold food for balancing yin:
- Chinese green
- Mustard green
- Water crest
- Bean Sprout
As for the food that helps balance the yang:
- Chilli pepper
- Fried chicken
And the list goes on.
However, both of these foods should be balanced and not excessively eaten to avoid sickness.
Chinese Food Categories
Chinese food can be classified into different categories. The traditional Chinese meal usually consists of soup, rice or noodles, and a few side dishes. Both rice and noodles are an important part of Chinese cuisine, along with small amounts of meat or vegetables.
One of the Chinese food traditions is having a bowl of rice at every meal. However, it’s not always the same type of rice, the Chinese use different types depending on the meall. These include sweet rice, long grain rice, short-grain rice, jasmine rice, or brown rice. In addition, it can be prepared in different ways, either steamed, fried, and more.
Whether cooked in soup or stir-fried, there are different sizes and types of noodles. Noodles are eaten every day but are especially important during birthday celebrations, as they symbolize a long life. In fact, it is believed that the longer the noodle, the longer the persons' life will be.
Chinese bakeries have a variety of baked buns that people eat for breakfast or midday snacks. They could be pastries or sweet buns served with egg custard, red bean sauce, and more.
Food for Health
People in China rely on herbs as special ingredients to remain healthy and give you strength in case of any deficiency. The soup is taught by the elderly or herbalists and is relied on for any illness. There are different soups used based on the situation.
Best Chinese Food Dishes
Craving Chinese? Here are a few dishes on their menu that will keep you coming back:
Popular in Northern China and during the Chinese New Year, dumplings are thin dough skins filled with pork, vegetables, shrimp, chicken, or beef. This traditional Chinese snack can be boiled, steamed, or fried, depending on the person’s preference.
It's believed that the more dumplings you eat during the Lunar New Year, the more fortune you will encounter during the year.
Almost every Chinese restaurant has spring rolls on its menu. Like dumplings, they are appetizers eaten during the Lunar New Year in Eastern China and the Spring Festival.
The crispy taste of the dough wrapper with vegetables or meat keeps you wanting more every time!
Chow Mein or 'stir-fried noodles' as we know it with some onions, celery, and your choice of meat. It's an easy plate to make by boiling the noodles in water then stir-frying it with your choice of chicken, meat, or pork.
Like stir-fried noodles, you find fried rice on any Chinese restaurant menu and in China. Usually made with eggs, vegetables, seafood, or meat, it's a complete meal for a whole family. Families rely on it as an easy dish to make at any time for dinner.
Kung Pao Chicken
Another well-known dish found in restaurants, Kung Pao Chicken, gained people's hearts worldwide. The diced chicken with dried chili, cucumber, and fried peanuts recipe has changed as it traveled to the other side of the world.
Mapo Tofu has a bold flavor that's very spicy in China. Made with chile oil and Sichuan peppercorns, you won't resist the taste.
However, the westernized version changed the recipe, making it much less spicy than the original one. Hence, you'll never know the true taste until trying it at its original home.
Sweet and Sour Pork
A popular dish in China, sweet and sour pork has a sweet but sour taste at the same time. Its bright orange color will grab your attention. Around the world, the sweet and sour pork dish has substituted pork with chicken, shrimp, and even beef.
After learning about the yin and yang, the food balance, and the main dishes are eaten in Chinese cuisine. It's time to learn about their eating traditions, that’s because the Chinese food experience isn't complete without learning about their eating traditions.
As mentioned earlier, a meal in China is made to be eaten together with the family. The seating is organized from the eldest member sitting at the dining room facing the entrance and down to the youngest member who sits directly across from the oldest. The head of the family should start eating first, and others can follow afterwards.
Additionally, the best dishes are placed in front of the head of the family or treasured guests. Everyone should begin enjoying the dishes nearest to their seat, placing the food on the plate using the chopsticks, and passing the dish to the person next to you.
Other important rules:
- Meals are usually eaten using chopsticks, instead of silverware.
- No digging for food in plates with chopsticks.
- 12-16 different dishes are made for formal dinners in China (including cold dishes).
When dinner is over, chopsticks are to be placed neatly on the side of the bowl.
Which one do you prefer to balance the yin or the yang? Either way, the Chinese have provided us with lots of dishes that keep us coming back for more. The Chinese culture and traditions are unique, the cuisine is globally popular and it's the world’s leading manufacturer of various products and technologies, making it a great country to explore.