Chinese Culinary Culture

Being one of the important fruits of China‘s age-old culture, the Chinese food and drink culinary art enjoys a high prestige both at home and abroad. The whole world looks upon eating a Chinese meal as a high-leveled enjoyment. The Chinese people whether living in or outside the county all share a proper sense of pride for such a rich Chinese food and drink culinary culture. Thus, to regard the Chinese food and drink culinary art as a culture, a science, or an art is entirely justifiable.

The Chinese culinary culture has a distant source and has become well established. The legend has it that the Chinese culinary culture originated with Yi Yin, a virtuous and capable minister of the Shang Dynasty (15th – 11th centuries B.C). It can be seen that China initiated the culinary art as early as the Shang and Zhou (11th century to 221 B.C.) times. With the growth and development of production and economy during various periods, the culinary techniques too registered step by step heightening and improvement—-from brevity to variety, from rudimentary to advanced stage, from day-to-day snacks to feasts, even to palatial dishes and delicacies. During about the time from the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 B.C.) and the Warring Stated Period (CA. 475-221 B.C.), to the Sui-Tang period the Chinese dishes began to be marked apart by Southern and Northern tastes. During the period of the Tang (618-907 A.D.) and the Song (960-1279 AD) dynasties, people went in a great deal for eating and distinct local colors were added to the Chinese dishes, such as the Northern food (”Lu” or the Shandong dishes), the Southern food (”Yue” or the Cantonese dishes), the Chuan food (Sichuan dishes), Wei Yang (Yangzhou) and the vegetarian foods. Records respecting each kind of dishes have been handed down. No matter the four oldest groups (i.e., the Sichuan, Cantonese, Shandong and Yangzhou groups) or the eight groups that gradually matured after the Tang and Song Dynasties (the Sichuan, Cantonese, Shandong, Yangzhou, Beijing, Anhui, Zhejiang and Hunan groups) or the Fujian, Jiangxi, Hubei, Henan, Liaoning groups, as well as the Muslim feasts prevalent throughout the country. Each of these famous groups has its own long history and characteristic traditional techniques; these put together have truly for the Chinese culinary culture produced a rich, sublime fruit borne out of the policy of letting a hundred flowers bloom and a hundred schools contend.

Shanghai is China‘s biggest port city. Since the Opium War and the opening of the five ports to foreign trade, it was thronged by traders from all over the world and was densely populated by the Chinese and foreigners, and the city became thriving and prosperous. In the wake of economic growth, the several big culinary blocs poured into Shanghai one after another. Till the 1920s, restaurants featuring the various kinds of dishes, like the Cantonese food, Sichuan food, Beijing food, Yangzhuo food, Ningbo food, Anhui food, Muslim feast, Tianjin food, Suzhou and Wuxi food and Shanghai‘s local dishes together with Western cafes, numbering near a hundred, had emerged in Shanghai. So the saying “Satisfying eating is in Shanghai” is actually not coined by the Shanghailanders of today, but prevailed already some 80 years ago. Undoubtedly local people would enjoy their own food quite much. each of these sayings is correct, because in each place there are distinctly-colored regional culinary blocs and the delicacies of different tastes available in Chinese food, a fact acknowledged the world.

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