No trip to China would be complete without getting a real taste of the wealth of foods on offer. Chinese food is famous all around the world, and not without reason. If you’re visiting China you’ll get the opportunity to try one of the world’s most famous cuisines in its traditional way and no one could argue with the fact that it’s also the best way. If you’re wondering what to expect from traditional Chinese food then forget what you’ve experienced in your own country. The real food of China is so much better that foreign imitations pale in comparison.
Many Western dishes have been tailored to meet the available ingredients, or in some cases the true essence of the recipe has been lost over numerous years and translations. Whilst sweet and sour is a popular dish in the West, many Chinese chefs wouldn’t even dream of cooking it. Whilst sweet and sour still exists in China it’s nothing like the sweet and sour that we experience in Western restaurants. China has a very long history rich with tradition. It is this tradition and history which has given China such a wonderfully rich and diverse cuisine. Whilst civilization in China started at least 7000 years ago records do not date back this far, but what archaeology has shown is that food has always had a central role in the lives of Chinese people.
Whilst the food lacked the sophistication of today’s cooking there was already a deep consideration for healthy eating. The Chinese Dynasties saw a huge range of ideas develop alongside an increasing variety of foods. Trade allowed for many more ingredients to be used and the wealth that such trade led to also gave chefs a chance to develop their skills and make money doing so. The best chefs competed with each other for royal approval, hoping to be appointed as royal chefs. The best dishes created by the chefs combined fine food and health benefits for which they received rich rewards. Those dishes which became most popular became food that the wealthiest across China dined upon. Over time lodges in which travelers stayed became more and more akin to modern-day restaurants and these made the foods which were originally the preserve of the royal and wealthy Chinese available to all. Thanks to modern transportation regional specialties are available all across China, giving an even greater variety of flavors from the vast Chinese country.
Chinese food is not only famous for its flavor but also its names. With dishes such as “Phoenix and Dragon” or “Ants Climbing on Trees” much fun can be had in discovering the legends behind the names over a good meal. One difficulty many foreigners have with ordering Chinese food is the language barrier. Chinese menus are written in Chinese characters – a notoriously difficult language which takes a long time to learn. If you have Chinese friends it’s worth asking them to translate, but otherwise you can simply point at what other diners are eating and try food in that way.
Chinese food now holds a popular place among the entire population of the world. You can find a Chinese restaurant in every major city and in many smaller areas of the world as well.