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China has an abundant supply of foodstuffs. She is famous for her refined art of the cooking and preparation of Chinese food. In this country great attention is paid to the naming of the immense variety of dishes that may be laid on the table. High store is set by the shape and color of the ultimate product to be presented for consumption and also for appreciation. The duration and degree of heating or cooking and the flavoring of the foods involved are also resolved meticulously.

All this has rich philosophical implications and a solid historical background. For example, from remote past down to the present time, the Chinese food culinary art lays emphasis on the need to preserve the natural shape of the foodstuff being processed if it is very beautiful, to preserve the original color if it can arouse an exquisite sense of delight, and to preserve the original taste if it is unique and flawless. The underlying principle is that food processing should only enhance, not reduce, the merit of the raw material.

Chinese meat
For the processing of this kind of Chinese food special technical treatments will have to be resorted to according to the traits of the material involved so as to "keep the original juice with the original flavor" without any change in character. The cooking theory of the culinary art emphasizes that "foodstuffs have each its own taste and flavor, which should not be made homogeneous through mixing" and that "every material should be enabled to make its own contribution and every dish should present its own unique taste and flavor". Some foodstuffs are very nutritious, but unfortunately they have the peculiar smell of fish or mutton. In processing this kind of foodstuff different condiments will have to be added and different cooking utensils used to carry out various technical treatments such as stewing, simmering, stir-frying, deep-frying, quick-frying, quick-frying with vinegar, boiling and steaming so that the peculiar smell may be eliminated, nutritional value preserved, and the original deliciousness given prominence to. Chinese food (dietary) culture has a very long history. It dates back to about 8,000 years ago, when people began to use mud for building pens in which they bred various animals including the six domestic animals well known to people everywhere, namely pig, ox, goat, horse, chicken and dog. Archeological study has proved that since that time there has occurred the extensive appearance in China of the cultivation of crops of the grass family such as millet, maize, rice, sorghum, hemp and flax. During the period of transition from the Qin to the Han Dynasty (221~200BC), barley, wheat and oats also came to be cultivated.

backery chinese

There also appeared soybeans, red beans and black soybeans that were the fruits of agricultural labor. The technique of growing spring onion, chives, garlic, radish and more than ten other vegetables was developed. The hothouse was used in winter to grow spring onion and hotbed chives. As for salt, wine, sugar, vinegar and honey, they were extensively used as condiments. Even the drinking of tea was not something unusual.
At the time of the Tang Dynasty (618~907AD), the preparation of Chinese food became almost the same as that of today. Cooked rice, congee, steamed bread, boiled dumplings with meat and vegetable stuffing, steamed stuffed buns, noodles and other foods served in soup were all in supply.
Chinese people attach great importance to care of health and cure of disease in the processing and serving of foods, which is termed "diet therapy".

Efforts are made to achieve for every meal the purpose that staple and non-ataple foods should be truly complementary, that cold and hot dishes should be properly matched, that there should be foods which are cooked and  which are eaten in a raw state, which are boiled until they are dry and which are boiled but with a lot of water or milk left in them, foods which are sweet and which are salty, and there should be dishes of meat, fish, etc. and dishes of vegetables. A high degree of unity of opposites is generally revealed in the profusion and diversity of quantities of foods and sizes of plates and bowls.
When concrete problems are to be considered in reference to the dietary requirements of the four seasons of a year, still more attention is paid to the time, climate, and suitability to the condition of the human body in the given season. In springtime, appropriate amounts of vinegary and fragrant food should be added in order to keep the body channels open for passage and to whet the appetite; in summertime, the proper addition of cool and bitterish food would be necessary to give those at the table a feeling of coolness and promote the palatability of the dishes, thus making people oblivious of the ambient summer heat; in the fall, with the approaching cold weather, a bit of pungent food would be desirable for the purpose of fending off the attack of cold wind; and in wintertime, the rigors of the cold weather demand that salty dishes and hot soups be added to the daily menu so as to increase the ability of the human body to defend itself against the severe cold. All this gives embodiment to the theory of the Chinese classical philosophy that "nature, place, human being and time" are to be bound into an inseparable whole.
Chinese people are inclined to use traditional condiments, which do not include any chemicals. They generally favor herbs which traditional Chinese medical scholars approve of and which through long-term culinary employment have shown themselves to be beneficial to human health, such as spring onion, chive seedlings, ginger, garlic, aniseed, Chinese prickly ash, pepper, cinnamon, dried tangerine, hawthorn, and Angelica dehurica. Other favorite flavorings are: white spirit, yellow rice wine, long-preserved vinegar, white sugar and honey.
Under the guidance of traditional Chinese medical theory, dietary health care has become a highly specialized branch of science which proves to be of great value in practical applications. For instance, traditional Chinese medical theory finds application in the coupling or matching of different foods so as to bring into full play the health-care effect of certain foods being cooked or taken together and to shun the taboos that are considered to be based on really good reasons. Two taboos of this nature are cited here for your reference. Mutton and plums are not to be taken together. Carp should not be eaten at the same time as dog, chicken, pork liver, and green soya been. On this foundation was born a complete set of variegated medicated health-care products in the form of medicinal liquors, many Chinese food cooked with medicinal herbs, health teas, etc. All these things are the concrete manifestation of the achievements of traditional Chinese medical theory in dietary culture.
Chinese dietary culture has a very long history. The underlying principle is that food processing should only enhance, not reduce, the merit of the raw material.
Chinese people attach great importance to care of health and cure of disease in the processing and serving of foods, which is termed "diet therapy".

 

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