Traditional Chinese Food Culture

In the 5000 years of Chinese civilization, Chinese diet has gradually developed a distinct structure with four major characteristics: staple and non-staple foods, low-temperature cooking, rather vegetarian meat-vegetable coupling, and highlighted supplement of beans as a daily necessity.

Chinese Dietary Structure

Since the Qin (221 - 207 BC) and Han (202 BC - 220 AD) dynasties, the dietary structure of Chinese people has been based on plant materials, such as grains, beans, vegetables, fruits and cereals. Five cereals serve as staple food, vegetables as the non-staple, together with a small amount of meat. As Confucius said in Fellow Villager of the Analects of Confucius, "even if there are many meat dishes, the total amount eaten shall not exceed that of staple food". This is actually the earliest written record of traditional Chinese theory on dietary structure. It means that, the daily diet should be based on cereals, and the meat eaten should not exceed cereals even if there is plenty of meat. In addition, Chinese food is basically cooked at low temperatures. Water is used to steam bun, cook noodles and boil dumplings below 100°C. The main cooking methods used are stir-frying and stewing, which are convenient and able to retain more vitamins.

Traditional Cooking Methods

Traditional Chinese dishes are quite particular about cooking methods and lay emphasis on both cooking and seasoning. The common cooking techniques include steaming, boiling, braising, stewing, roasting, frying, stir-frying, deep frying, stirring, crisping, and simmering. Due to the vast territory of China, different natural conditions, people's living habits, and economic and cultural developments in different regions, different local flavors in food cooking and dishes have gradually formed, such as Shandong cuisine, Sichuan cuisine, Suzhou cuisine, Cantonese cuisine, Fujian cuisine, Beijing cuisine, Hunan cuisine, Anhui cuisine, etc.
The unique charm of Chinese cuisines lies in its taste. And the harmony of five flavors is the key to delicacy. At the same time, the organic unity of color, aroma, taste and appearance is to be achieved. On the basis of color matching, the auxiliary colors are used to set off, highlight, embellish and adapt to the main ingredients, so as to create a dish with even, soft, harmonious and well-arranged colors pleasing to the eye. In terms of the combination of flavors, the aroma is emphasized to highlight the main flavor, and seasonings are used to enhance the fragrance and flavor. In the aspect of appearance, the art of styling is stressed by using the techniques like embellishing and inlaying; carving and dish are integrated to get a harmonious and beautiful shape. As an organic whole of color, appearance, aroma, taste and nutrition, Chinese cuisine enables people to enjoy in an all-round way from vision, touch and taste and has a Chinese culinary feature with delicacy as its core and health preservation as its purpose.

Chinese Dietary Aesthetics

With the development of Chinese cuisine, a "ten-beauty style" has been formed, which emphasizes the harmony of taste, color, aroma, quality, appearance, order, tableware, comfort, environment and elegance. Chinese cooking is not only exquisite in technology, but also particular about the aesthetic sense of food and the organic harmony of color, aroma, taste, appearance and tableware.

As the Chinese saying goes, the drinker's heart is not in the cup - to have ulterior motives. This is an excellent summary of the characteristics of Chinese cuisine culture with the spirit of seeking a higher spiritual satisfaction by taking food as a medium. The pleasure brought by the harmony of food, taste, tableware and environment enables diners to enter the ideal realm of freedom, enrichment and aesthetics, from which they can enjoy the delightful and beautiful life.

Chinese Dining Etiquette

China is a country that advocates etiquette. Both the ancient "drinking and eating ethics" and the modern catering culture fully display the civilized diet of China as an ancient civilization.

Traditional Chinese dietary etiquette consists of banquet, entertaining, eating and table manners. Dietary etiquette plays an important role in Chinese culture. Etiquette arises from diet and strictly restricts dietary activities. Liquor and wine are indispensable to the banquet etiquette. There are many drinking manners at the banquet. Guests need to wait for the host to propose a toast before drinking and wait for the host to lift chopsticks before dining. Host and guests are supposed to respect each other and create a good atmosphere for harmonious and civilized dining.