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The development and diversity of the delights of Chinese cuisine are also representative of China's long history. With each dynasty new recipes were created until the art of food preparation reach its peak during the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911). The dinner called Man Han Quan Xi that incorporates all the very best of Man and Han Cuisine is held in high esteem involving as it does countless dishes, each with its own distinctive flavor and appeal. This veritable banquet in its preparation and presentation typifies all of the culture and culinary arts that have been perfected over centuries and is a comprehensive amalgam of taste, instruments, and manners.

It is no exaggeration to say that Chinese cuisine is dainty, in its items, esthetics, atmosphere, and effects.


Colorful, aromatic and delicious are characteristics of China's varied cuisines. Wherever you find yourself in China, your senses are tested to the extreme whilst enjoying the unusual dishes, often unique for the area you are visiting.
Chinese cuisine's entree normally strives for three to five colors, made up of the main ingredient, with more secondary ingredients of contrasting colors and textures; these are prepared and cooked to enhance their own qualities, with the use of appropriate condiments and garnishing, enabling to chef to present a delicious platter of fragrant delicious art.

In prepared dishes, the stronger fragrant aroma stimulates one's appetite, by using scallion, fresh ginger, root garlic or chili pepper; with the use of wine, aniseed, cinnamon, peppercorn or sesame oil. Complementary nuances are added. Soy sauce, sugar, vinegar and other seasonings may used discreetly, adding to the complex play on the taste buds.

All chefs of the Chinese kitchens, professional or in the home, strive for harmony of sight, smell, taste, texture, so that each individual dish has it's unique features highlighted; contrasted and balanced if it is a dinner of many dishes, be it 3, 6, 9 or 12. The flavors must not overpower, yet subtle enough to meet the tastes of those dining. Complex or simple dishes may be prepared quickly or much longer, but the ultimate goal is to share with the guests the play on the eaters' real and imagined visions of the dishes and its ingredients.

A further point is that over festive periods, with the play of word's phonetics, well meaning felicitous names of dishes have many people trying to guess what they are about to eat, thereby adding fun to eating.

Eight Regional Variations

Chinese cuisine has a number of different genres, but the most influential and typical known by the public are the 'Eight Cuisines'. These are as follows: Shangdong Cuisine, Sichuan Cuisine, Guangdong Cuisine, Fujian Cuisine , Jiangsu Cuisine, Zhejiang Cuisine, Hunan Cuisine, and Anhui Cuisine . The essential factors that establish the form of a genre are complex and include history, cooking features, geography, climate, resources and life styles. Cuisines from different regions are so distinctive that sometimes despite the fact that two areas are geographical neighbors their styles are completely alien.

Shandong Cuisine

As an important component of Chinese culinary art, Shandong cuisine, also known as Lu Cai for short, boasts a long history and far-reaching impact. Shandong cuisine can be traced back to the Spring and Autumn Period (770-221BC). It was quickly developed in the South and North Dynasty (960-1279), and was recognized as an important style of cooking in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Shangdong cuisine is representative of northern China's cooking and its technique has been widely absorbed in northeast China.

Shandong is a large peninsula surrounded by the sea, with the Yellow River meandering through the center. As a result, seafood is a major component of Shandong cuisine. Shandong's most famous dish is the sweet and sour carp. A truly authentic sweet and sour carp must come from the Yellow River.

Shangdong cuisine is famous for its wide selection of material and use of different cooking methods. The raw materials are mainly domestic animals and birds, seafood and vegetables. The masterly cooking techniques include Bao (quick frying), Liu (quick frying with corn flour), Pa (stewing), roasting, boiling, using sugar to make fruit, crystallizing with honey.

Condiments such as sauce paste, fistulous onion and garlic are freely used, so Shangdong dishes usually taste pungent. Soups are given much emphasis in Shangdong dishes. Clear soup (or thin soup) features clear and fresh while milk soup (or creamy soup) looks thick and tastes strong, both of which are often choicely made to add freshness to the dishes. The dishes are mainly clear, fresh and fatty, perfect with Shandong's own famous beer, Qingdao Beer.

In addition to sweet and sour carp, typical courses in Shandong cuisine include braised abalone with shells, fried sea cucumber with fistulous onion, fragrant calamus in milk soup, quick-fried double fats (a very traditional Shandong dish consisting of pork tripe and chicken gizzards), and Dezhou stewed chicken. Dezhou stewed chicken is known throughout the country; the chicken is so well cooked that the meat easily separates from the bone although the shape of the chicken is preserved.

Guangdong Cuisine

Guangdong Cuisine takes fine and rare ingredients and is cooked with polished skills and in a dainty style. It emphasizes a flavor which is clear but not light, refreshing but not common, tender but not crude. In summer and autumn it pursues clarity and in winter and spring, a little more substance. The saut¨Śed dishes always rely upon exquisite presentat ion involving cutting and carving skills. Typical menu here can ultimately embody these characteristics:

Chrysanthemum fish - chefs with adept cutting techniques shape the fish like chrysanthemums, each individual morsel being convenient to enjoy with either chopsticks or forks.

Braised Snake porridge - choose rare meat of cobra, grimalkin, and pullet, braised elaborately, also called 'Dragon and phoenix contending' (Long Feng Dou).

Roast suckling pig - a famed dish with rather long history, golden and crisp exterior, and tender meat, with dense aroma.

Medicinal Cuisine

Chinese medicinal cuisine is a long standing tradition. Early records show that it was in use as far back as the Han Dynasty (206 BC - 220). Through continual improvement during succeeding dynasties, it has developed into a practical science of nutrition. This is not a simple combination of food and traditional medicine, but is it a distinctive cuisine made from food and medicinal ingredients following the theory of Chinese medicine.
This not only became the means of health-preservation among the people of China, but also spread abroad, especially into Southeast Asia. There is now sufficient interest from people wishing to learn about alternative medicine that regular conventions are held to promote this branch of medical science.

There is a wide choice of foods that are used in many different ways to promote health and well-being. It is estimated that there are more than 600 different kinds of resource ranging from cereals, fruits, vegetables, meats and marine products. Many of these will be unfamiliar to foreigners who may be reluctant to try them; however all are quite precious and effective in the field of medicinal food. Many different ingredients are used to add to the appeal as well as to strengthen effects of the cuisine. Wine, sugar, oil, salt, vinegar and honey, and other commonly available items such as almonds, mandarin orange, or peanuts, all are utilized in the cooking process.

According to its respective functions, medicinal cuisine is classified under four categories: health-protection cuisine, prevention cuisine, healing cuisine and therapeutic cuisine.

Health-protection cuisine refers to reinforcement of required nutritional food correspondingly to maintain the organic health. A soup of pumpkin and almond can help lose weight; soup of angelica and carp can add beauty; and ginseng congee can give more strength.

Prevention cuisine builds resistance to potential ailments. Mung bean soup is considered helpful as a guard against heat stroke in summer. Lotus seeds, lily, yam, chestnuts, and pears can assist in the prevention of dryness in autumn and a strengthening of resistance to cold in winter.

Healing cuisine is the medicinal food for rehabilitation after severe illness. Broiled sheep's heart with rose or braised mutton with angelica will help to rebuild a healthy constitution.

Therapeutic cuisine aims at the specific pathology. Fried potatoes with vinegar can adjust the organ and restrain hypertension and carp soup with Tuckahoe may enrich the strength of blood plasma albumen to help reduce swelling.

Have a try and you will enjoy the delicacy while benefiting a lot from the nourishment. A really amazing experience!

Food Culture

As a country that pays great attention to courtesy, our cuisine culture is deep rooted in China's history. As a visitor or guest in either a Chinese home or restaurant you will find that table manners are essential and the distinctive courtesies displayed will invariably add to the enjoyment of your meals and keep you in high spirits!

Respect First

It is really an admirable custom to respect others at the table, including the aged, teachers and guests while taking good care of children.

Chinese people stress filial piety all the time. The practice of presenting the best or fine food first to the senior members of the family has been observed for countless generations. In ancient times the common people led a needy life but they still tried their best to support the elder mother or father who took it for granted.

Although the hosts in China are all friendly and hospitable, you should also show them respect. Before starting to eat dinner, the host may offer some words of greeting. Guests should not start to eat until the host says, 'Please enjoy yourself' or something like that, otherwise it suggests disrespect and causes displeasure.

When hosts place dishes on the table, they will arrange the main courses at the center with the supporting dishes evenly placed around them. When the main dishes are prepared in a decorative form either by cut or other means they will be placed facing the major guests and elder people at the table. This also embodies virtue.

On Chopsticks

The Chopstick is a miracle among the creations of Chinese food culture. This utensil helps the dinner to really relish his or her food. The use of chopsticks with ease will add to the enjoyment of the delicacies. How to use them maybe a problem and here are our suggestions that may be helpful:

First, hold the upper stick like a pen with your thumb and middle finger. Second, take the lower one with the thumb and set it on the ring finger. Finally, try to move the two sticks and pick up your favorite dish.

It is considerately convenient to have noodles with chopsticks. Then you can wind noodle threads lightly but firmly, to avoid splattering soup or sauces in the bowl. For the first time, be some may slide off the sticks, but the slight lapses are inevitable and practice makes perfect. After practice you will become adept at picking up all sorts of morsels from plates.

When the dishes are positioned on the table, usually the first to help them selves should be the hosts or the elderly. Do not take too much once, or return your food to the plate. Try to avoid the collision of chopsticks with those of your neighbors since they are longer than forks or knives.

Do not drum or tap bowls and plates with chopsticks especially when you are a guest, because people believe that is the humble behavior of beggars when they beg for food.

Never insert chopsticks upright onto the vessels for food, as this will be viewed as an evil presage and will sustain the disapproval of the seniors. The reason is that, it is the unique way to show the esteem and care for the dead. Long ago it was a tradition in China to worship their ancestors with offerings of food. However, in consideration that the dead could not use chopsticks smoothly, the living had to use them at an upright angle.

Avoid sucking the end of a chopstick or keeping it in mouth for a long time. Never point at someone with a chopstick and do not use it to prick food in order to pick it up. These are also regarded as impolite and irreverent.

At Important Moments

To celebrate the birthday is important moment in one's life. When one is young, usually he will eat noodles before his birthday, because the long noodles indicate the longevity in China, and birthday cake on the actual day. After middle age, his birthday will grander. In addition to the above, peaches in many forms will be added symbolizing the longevity and immortality, as well as delightful couplets and candles.

On the wedding day, it is also customary to serve Chinese dates, peanuts, longan and chestnuts together as wish that the couple will soon have a baby in accord with the Chinese proclamation.

To most Chinese people, returning home after long absence or departure from home are both significant and there are food customs associated with this. The return home is greeted with noodles and off home while a farewell is offered with dumplings. This is especially popular in northeast China.

During the Dragon Boat Festival, though many people cannot reach the river zone to watch the boat race, almost all of them eat the unique food -zongzi, a pyramid-shaped dumpling made of glutinous rice wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves. The festival on that day it is to venerate the patriotic poet Qu Yuan and the people fearing his lack of food, made the special meal for him. Now the food is made in various shapes and sorts.

On the eighth day of the last month in the Chinese lunar calendar, people will enjoy a nourishing porridge called 'La Ba Zhou'. In ancient times, monks would kindly share all sorts of food grains with people and made them flavorful porridge on this particular day. People still keep this convention.

In Central China, when a baby is born, the happy father will send red boiled eggs to announce the news. Eggs with a black pointed end and dots in an even number such as six or eight, indicates a boy's birth; those without a black point and in an odd number like a five or seven will say the baby is a girl.

In addition to these, fish has always been used to suggest the accumulation of prosperity and wealth with meals on New Year's Eve.

Minority Cuisine

Besides the various Han cuisines, the other 55 ethnic groups each have their own. With their peculiar religions and geographical zones, their diets differ respectively and are full of interest.
Hui Cuisine

The Hui ethnic group possesses the most Muslims, which influences the cuisine greatly and makes it the representative of the Chinese Muslim food. With a long history, Hui cuisine embodies the life habit - cleanness. Their diet never involves pig meat, the meat of non-ruminating animals, fierce animals and their blood. But those meats that are allowed and which have been prepared under the auspices of an imam can be made into delicious dishes. Muslims are not allowed to smoke or drink wines, but encouraged to enjoy teas. When there are guests come to visit, welcoming hosts will produce tea together with fruits and fried cakes. The tea cup can include there sugar, white sugar, Chinese wolfberry, sesame, red Chinese date, longan, and raisins, which are rich in nutrition.

There are four main characteristics of Hui Cuisine. Most of the staple food is made of flour rather than rice, and can have many forms. Sweeteners play an important role in the meals - these people tend to add honey or sugar to their dishes. Hui people like eating beef and mutton which also stimulate the appetite and are nourishing. One of the typical meals is roast mutton. They have also renovated and adapted aspects of Han cuisine - for example dumplings in a sour soup is one of their favorites.

Tibetan Cuisine

Tibetan cuisine includes Zanba (roasted highland qingke barley flour), meat, and milk products. The products reflect the differences between the various pastoral and farming areas. Favored by all are vegetables such as cabbages and wine made from qingke barley and corn.

Although Tibetan cuisine has no real classified styles, it can be roughly divided into four typical flavors: Ngari's Qiang Cuisine, Lhasa's Lhasa cuisine, Nyingchi's Rong cuisine and the Court Cuisine that comprises dishes common among the former aristocrats of Tibet. In total there are some 200 or more recipes. Qiang cuisine caters for the people who live in the pastoral area with a high altitude. The food preparation pays particular heed to helping people cope with the very cold climate. Examples of produce are cheese, acidulous milk, butter and stock made from boiled cattle hoofs. The latter being something akin to the calf's foot jelly prepared in the West. Lhasa cuisine uses a wide range of ingredients and is cooked in many different ways. Carbonade with radishŁŹboiled mutton, beef catsup are all popular dishes. Rong Cuisine is found in southeast Tibet where there is a lower altitude. Wild fungi and mushrooms are readily available and used to flavor food. Court cuisine is a quintessential art using the best traditions of Tibetan dietary skills and cooking methods for a wide variety of different produce in order to serve attractive and flavorsome dishes.

Specialties are yoghourt made from yak milk which is also used to produce excellent and famed cheeses. Zanba in Lhasa and a particularly excellent recipe for stewed chicken with mushrooms in Nyingchi, and so on.  

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Anhui Cuisine
Anhui cuisine (Hui Cai for short), one of the eight most famous cuisines in China, features the local culinary arts of Huizhou. It comprises the specialties of South Anhui, Yanjiang and Huai Bei. The highly distinctive characteristic of Anhui cuisine lies not only in the elaborate choices of cooking materials but also in the strict control of cooking process.
Beijing Cuisine
People also call it the Capital City cuisine. Beijing was the capital city for the Liao, Jin, Yuan, Ming, and Qing Dynasties. Except for the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), all the rulers of these dynasties were from northern nomadic tribes.
Chaozhou Cuisine
Chaozhou is the name of a coastal region around the Shantou district of eastern Guangdong Province. One of the major schools in Guangdong cuisine, Chaozhou cuisine originated from Chaoshan Plain about one thousand years ago.
Fujian Cuisine
Fujian cuisine, also called Min Cai for short, holds an important position in China's culinary art. Fujian's economy and culture began flourishing after the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279). During the middle Qing Dynasty around 18th century, famous Fujian officials and literati promoted the Fujian cuisine so it gradually spread to other parts of China.
Guangdong Cuisine
Guangdong cuisine, known as Cantonese cuisine in the West, originates from China's southern province Guangdong and develops in Guangzhou, Huizhou and Chaozhou of Guangdong Province and Hainan Island.
Henan Cuisine
Henan cuisine, also known as Yu cuisine, has the accolade of being one of China's most traditional and oldest cooking styles. As the representative of culinary civilization of Central China, Henan cuisine has preserved traditions and made great innovations.
Huai-Yang Cuisine
Huai-Yang Cuisine originated from the Pre-Qin Period (221-206BC), became famous during the Sui (581-618) and Tang (618-907) Dynasties, and was recognized as a distinct regional style during the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) Dynasties. This cuisine includes dishes from Huai'an, Yangzhou, Suzhou, and Shanghai.
Hubei Cuisine
Hubei cuisine consists of dishes from Wuhan, Jinnan, Xiangyun and Southeast Hubei. Wuhan cuisine originated in an area where there is a major-scale inland fishery.
Hunan Cuisine
Also known as Xiang Cai, Hunan cuisine has already developed into a famous culinary school in China. Hunan dishes consist of local dishes from the Xiangjiang River area, Dongting Lake area and Western Hunan mountain area.
Jiangsu Cuisine
Jiangsu cuisine, also known as Su Cai for short, is one of the major components of Chinese cuisine, and consists of the styles of Yangzhou, Nanjing, Suzhou and Zhenjiang dishes. It is very famous in the whole world for its distinctive style and taste. It is especially popular in the lower reach of the Yangtze River.
Liaoning Cusine
Liaoning cuisine, originated from Shenyang City and developed on the basis of Shandong cuisine, and was later strongly influenced by the Manchu cooking style and foreign dishes, especially Japanese food, Korean food and Russian food. Such a combination makes Liaoning cuisine unique in color, aroma and taste. It is characterized by its use of strong flavors, salt and oil. It also pays attention to different cooking techniques and to the complexity of shapes.
Shaanxi Cuisine
Shaanxi cuisine is represented by Guanzhong, south Shaanxi and north Shaanxi cuisine styles. Shaanxi Province occupies an important position in the development history of Chinese culture. Its cooking techniques can be traced back to Yangshao Culture period.
Sichuan Cuisine
Of the eight major schools of China's culinary art, Sichuan cuisine is perhaps the most popular. Originating in Sichuan Province of westernChina, Sichuan cuisine, known as Chuan Cai in Chinese, enjoys an international reputation for beingspicy and flavorful.
Yunnan Cuisine
Known as "the kingdom of plants and animals", Yunnan is home to a rich variety of foods. As a province with 26 different ethnic groups, the variety of cuisines is an important attraction for tourists.
Zhejiang Cuisine
Zhejiang cuisine, also called Zhe Cai for short, is one of the eight famous culinary schools in China. Comprising the specialties of Hangzhou, Ningbo and Shaoxing in Zhejiang Province regarded as land of fish and rice, Zhejiang cuisine, not greasy, wins its reputation for freshness, tenderness, softness, and smoothness of its dishes with mellow fragrance. Hangzhou cuisine is the most famous one among the three.

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