A joke goes that the happiest man in the world is the one who earns an American salary, lives in an English house, gets married to a Japanese woman and eats Chinese food!
Chinese food is known for its taste and philosophical and aesthetic qualities. It is closely tied to the development of the 5,000-year-old Chinese civilization. It is also related to the development of tourism in China – some famous scenic spots are associated with popular dishes named after the spots, for example, “Fried Yellow River Carp with Sweet and Sour Sauce” of Shandong, and “Hupao Vegetarian Ham” and “West Lake Water Shield Soup” of Hangzhou.
Chinese food devotes meticulous attention to the color, smell, taste, shape, sound and vessel of the food. “Sound” refers to the crispiness of food, especially for such dishes as Sichuan’s “Sizzling Rice Crust with Three Delicacies”. When a steaming hot sauce made of shrimp and other delicacies is poured on freshly fried rice crust, a sizzling sound will be heard. “Vessel” means the different kinds of containers, such as porcelain, pottery and silverware, for different tables and dishes.
Chinese food can be classified into six categories:
1. Local Dishes
The local dishes refer to a class of dishes with very strong local flavors that came into existence in line with local products, climate and customs.
2. Royal Dishes
The royal dishes used to be prepared by the imperial chefs for emperors and empresses. Usually, they are fancifully named and exquisitely prepared with the best ingredients.
3. Family Dishes
The family dishes used to be reserved for high-ranking bureaucrats and celebrities. But they were subsequently adopted by ordinary people. Among the most famous family dishes are Confucian Mansion style and the Tan Family style dishes.
4. Ethnic Food
The ethnic food originated in minority-inhabited areas, and became popular nationwide. Famous ethnic dishes include roast beef, sliced mutton hot pot and lamb shashliks, etc.
5. Vegetarian Food
Because most monks eat vegetarian food, it is also known as “monastery dishes”. There are a wide variety of flavors, and these dishes often look and taste exactly like meat and fish.
6. Medicinal Dishes or Food Therapy
The Chinese believe that mixing tonics with food not only adds flavor to the food but also is good for health.