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Chinese Cuisine

Chinese cuisine is one of the Chinese cultural treasures and generally considered as one of the two greatest cuisines in the world. Because of China’s enormous size, varying climate and topography, and different customs, unique regional cuisines evolved and gained widespread acceptance. According to cuisine’s distinct tastes and local characteristics, the eight best known cuisines in China are:

Guangdong cuisine: In Guangdong cuisine, ingredients includes almost all edible foods and are usually prepared with a light touch, properly cooked and seasoned to bring out the natural flavors of the foods. The cuisine is famous for its seafood, especially steamed fish and shellfish prepared in various way. An emphasis on preserving the natural flavor of the food is the hallmark of Cantonese cuisine. 


Jiangsu (Huaiyang) cuisine: Jiangsu cuisine is characterized by basing each dish on its main ingredient; the way that ingredient is cut is pivotal to its cooking and its final taste. It tends to have a slightly sweet side to it and is almost never spicy. Pork, freshwater fish and other aquatic creatures serve as the meat base in most dishes, which are usually more meticulous and light. 


Shandong cuisine: It is considered the most influential among Chinese eight cuisines, with majority of the culinary styles in China having developed from it. Shandong 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 quick frying, quick frying with corn flour, stewing, roasting, boiling, using sugar to make fruit, crystallizing with honey. 


Sichuan cuisine: Of the eight major schools of China’s culinary art, Sichuan cuisine is perhaps the most popular. It enjoys an international reputation for being spicy and flavorful. Yet the highly distinctive pungency is not its only characteristic. In fact, it boasts a variety of flavors and different methods of cooking, featuring the taste of hot, sweet, sour, salty, or tongue-numbing. 


 Anhui cuisine: Anhui cuisine is known for its use of wild herbs, from both the land and the sea, and simple methods of preparation. Braising and stewing are common cooking techniques. Frying and stir frying are used much less frequently in Anhui cuisine than in other Chinese culinary traditions.


Fujian cuisine: Fujian cuisine is known to be light but flavorful, soft, and tender, with particular emphasis on umami taste as well as retaining the original flavor of the main ingredients instead of masking them. Emphasis is also on utilizing broth or soup, and there is saying in the region’s cuisine: “one broth can be changed into ten forms”. 


 Hunan cuisine: Known for its liberal use of chili peppers, shallots and garlic, Hunan cuisine is known for being dry hot as opposed to the better known Sichuan cuisine, to which it is often compared. Using smoked and cured goods in its dishes are much more frequently.


Zhejiang cuisine: Zhejiang Cuisine includes a wide variety of refined and delicate dishes and wins its reputation for freshness, tenderness, softness, and smoothness of its dishes with their mellow fragrance. Zhejiang cuisine specializes in quick-frying, stir-frying, deep-frying, simmering and steaming, obtaining the natural flavor and taste.


 Dinning Etiquette

The Chinese prefer to entertain in public places rather than in their homes, especially when entertaining foreigners. If you are invited to their house, consider it a great honor. If you must turn down such an honor, it is considered polite to explain the conflict in your schedule so that your actions are not taken as a slight. 

1. Dress well and always arrive on time (remove your shoes before entering the house in some cases).

2. It’s better to bring a small gift to the host or hostess.

3. Seating arrangements are based on social status or seniority. It’s better to wait to be told by host where to sit.

4. The ordering of food will be taken care of by the host.

5. Formal dinners will almost always have a consistent flow of the Chinese national drink, baijiu. Toasting with baijiu is a common act in Chinese business dinners.

6. If the guest of honor has not started eating, it is considered rude for others to begin.

7. Chopsticks should be returned to the chopstick rest after every few bites and when you drink or stop to speak. Never use chopsticks to stir food in the serving dishes.

8. You should always try everything that is offered to you.

9. Do not be offended if a Chinese person makes slurping or belching sounds; it merely indicates that they are enjoying their food.

10. The faster you eat, the faster your bowl will be filled so it’s a good idea to leave a little bit of food in your bowl when you are done eating.


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