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FOOD

Starving? Do not know what to eat?

China is definitely the right place to be starving! There is an abundance of restaurants available and a huge variety of food, you can choose and eat whatever you like it.

Eat Your Way to China's Heart
 
What is one of the biggest misconception foreigners have about China? FOOD!
 
Opinions of Chinese food vary from person to person. There are people who view China a culinary paradise given her amazing variety of food and the relative cheapness of eating out. On the other hand, there are those who hear of horror stories even before they step into China. Nevertheless, most newcomers will be surprised how little the food in China resembles anything they have probably had in their home country,
 
As a huge part of understanding China and Chinese culture is through the country's countless varieties of cuisine, always keep an open, adventurous mind towards Chinese food, especially during the times when you are confronted by strange and questionable meat and dishes as well as ingredients that should just not be considered food. Moreover, dining out in China will be an unforgettable gastronomical experience regardless of whether one's taste buds were impressed or not. 

In China, the people are always eating. Food is life to the Chinese and it is also a symbol of other good things such as luck and prosperity. The Chinese do not conduct any business talk without at least one trip to a restaurant first. So do not be surprise that at most times, a trip is made to the restaurant even before any business discussion takes place! Additionally, Chinese believes that food preparation is an art and is not simply a craft.
 

History of Chinese Food
 
From China's earliest days, food has been an integral part of the culture. This fascination with food is more or less rooted in thousands of years of food insecurity. Indeed survival from famine or no abundance life in the long past helped Chinese to enrich their cookery.
 
Thus, it is said that Chinese people will eat anything and everything that moves, and no part of an animals or plant is wasted and that their cookery is famine cooking. As a government official pointed out in the 200 B.C., "To ordinary people, food is tantamount to heaven." Such was the importance of food that in fact, even today the question "Have you eaten yet (Chi fan le ma)?" remains a popular greeting among the Chinese.
 
Chinese food and the way it is prepared is very much influenced by Confucianism and Taoism, the two major philosophies that influence the entire Chinese culture. The sage Confucius gets credit for developing protocols of cutting, cooking, and eating. One of the standards set by Confucius is that food must be cut into small bite size pieces before serving the dish.
 
Taoism on the other hand focus on the health benefits of particular foods vs. the presentation of the same. For example, the Chinese found that ginger, which can be considered to be a garnish or a condiment, is a powerful remedy for upset stomachs or colds.
 
 
Tips for Happy Eating in China
 
The most important thing to remember when eating in China is to have an open mind and to remind yourself of the TIC (This Is China) code. This will make your gastronomical experience memorable and enjoyable although you will probably encounter many meats and surely parts that you have never seen before.  READ MORE
 
The best way to get to know Chinese dishes is of course to go with a Chinese person who can introduce you to the amazingly varied delicious dishes of China. But in the absence of such a person, the following food tips will help you to experience the real Chinese food with a little less stress:
 
Carry a basic menu with you if you want to eat at local restaurants as it is highly likely they will only have menus in Chinese.
 
Or if you want to be adventurous, order what the next table orders! Three easy steps: just look at the table next to you, point to the dish you fancy and ask how much it is. This system works really well and no-one seems to mind. In fact, they will be delighted to know you ¡°approve¡± of their choice! So. do not be shy by taking an interest in what the next table is eating Just ask if it is "Hao Chi" and then tell everybody where you are from and what you are doing here, and do not worry if they watch you eat and ask you how the taste is. You will make some new friends.
 
Pick a good place to eat by observing the Chinese crowd.  In China, if people are crowding outside of the restaurant, that means it is a good place. Just do as the Chinese do and you will be rewarded with some of the best food you have ever tasted, and at the cheapest prices too! That said, be ready to wait for a table as waiting for a table is very common in good restaurants, especially during dinnertime of between 5-8 pm.
 
If you are traveling around China, you will have the chance to try a wide array of dishes. Regional cultural differences vary greatly amongst the different regions of China, giving rise to the different styles of food. Location affects other aspects of the dining experience, too. A meal for 4 people might consist of 6 dishes in Shanghai, but 3 or 4 dishes are probably enough in Beijing simply because the dishes are of different sizes.

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>Chinese Cuisine

China is a country diverse in climate, ethnicity and subcultures. Not surprisingly therefore, there are many distinctive styles of cuisine originating from the various regions of China.
 
There are eight main regional cuisines, or Eight Great Traditions: Anhui (Hui), Shandong (Lu),Cantonese (Yue), Fujian (Min), Jiangsu (Su), Zhejiang (Zhe), Hunan (Xiang), and Sichuan (Chuan), each of which boast its characteristic technique of cooking and unique taste. Each culinary style is inseparable from its long history and is influenced by geography, climate, resources, specialties and dining habits of each area.
 
Below is a brief description of the Eight Great Traditions:
 
Shandong Cuisine: It includes many famous seafood dishes and is well-known for its light, non- greasy cooking style.
 
Anhui Cuisine: It is characterized by natural ingredients, preservation of original color and flavor as well as close observation of temperature and timing of cooking.
 
Both of these Northern cuisines have been compared to simple but sturdy men of the north. Not to be missed representative Northern dishes : Dezhou style chicken
 
Jiangsu Cuisine: It is characteristically sweet.
 
Zhejiang Cuisine: It is popular for its crisp, tender, light and fresh dishes.
 
The cuisines of Jiangsu and Zhejiang have been compared to delicate beauties of the Yangtze River Delta.
 
Cantonese Cuisine: Yue dishes are fresh, tender, and lightly seasoned.
 
Fujian Cuisine: Due to the region's closeness to the sea, sea food making is a culinary art here. Hence, chefs are good at steaming, frying, braising the food, and particularly good at pickling the ingredients before cooking.
 
The cuisines of Guangdong and Fujian are compared to elegant nobles. Not to be missed Southern dishes are: sweet and sour pork, snow fungus soup .
 
Sichuan Cuisine: This cuisine is well-known for its hot and pungent flavoring. It can be hot, sweet, sour salty or tongue-numbing.
 
Hunan Cuisine: It is characterized by a great variety of ingredients, shiny and strong colors, hot and spicy tastes, smoked and pickled flavors.
 
The Western cuisines of Sichuan and Hunan are likened to people with substantial and varied accomplishments. Not to be missed dishes are: Dan Dan noodles, mapo dofu, Kung Pao chicken (diced chicken with peanuts), sliced beef in hot chilli, Chongqing style hot pot
 
If you do not have a chance to try all of the Eight Great Traditions, why not go for the most influential culinary styles. The Four Great Traditions are considered as the standouts of Chinese cuisine: Cantonese (Southern), Sichuan (Western), Shandong (Northern), and Huaiyang (Eastern, comprising of the styles of Yangzhou, Nanjing, Suzhou and Zhenjiang dishes).  Occasionally Beijing cuisine and Shanghai cuisine are also cited along as well as  Buddhist and Muslim sub-cuisines within the greater Chinese cuisine. 
 
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