Chinese Food: Not a Cuisine but a Cultural Movement

Egg rolls, wonton soup, lo mein, and pork fried rice may be mainstays of Chinese cuisine in America, but Fuchsia Dunlop, an English chef and food writer who specializes in Chinese cuisine, says there is no such thing. Unlike other types of ethnic cuisines, Chinese cuisine is deeply rooted in its history, culture, and politics. Yes, China is a country and not a continent, but its massive size is a testament to its influences on food throughout Asia and the world. Dunlop explains the evolution of Chinese cuisine, or Asian cuisine for that matter, through China's history. In fact, Chinese cooking techniques date back to the third century BC as outlined in the book The Root of Tastes by Lui Buwei. The book follows chef Yi Yin as he teaches the king, at the time, about the roots of the Han dynasty eating habits. Yi Yin describes the archeological site in the Hunan province, the Mawangduitombs, where bamboo strips inscribed with cooking techniques can be found. Looking back, you can see how Chinese cuisine has evolved just over the past few years from region to region and country to country. In authentic Chinese cuisine, you eat with chopsticks — a tradition that Western cuisine has adopted — because eating huge slabs of meat was considered barbaric. Eating dairy and raw foods like salads were also considered barbaric. Now, you see Chinese dishes that feature more meat and other vegetables that may require more than a chopstick to hold and eat. And as many Chinese chefs travel to live in Taiwan, the West, and other parts of the world, Chinese cuisine will continue to change as different foods, seasonings, and ingredients shape our perception of it.

[via The Browser]