Unique Chinese Cuisine

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Bobby Jindal, an American politician, once said, “Our culture, language, history, and values are vital to uniting us as a nation.” He is expressing that the various cultures of this world, are the elements that construct the place a person lives in today. Without these different cultures, this world would be simple and dull. Culture differentiates people and culture makes people unique. There are plenty of things that make a culture unique such as music, clothing, language, and more. But one thing that plays a huge role in any culture, is the cuisine. One of the most fascinating and bold cultures in this world, is Chinese culture; cuisine plays an enormous part it. It is important and unique from the aspects of its history and origin, etiquette, and the food itself.

Chinese cuisine originates from many different regions and spreads throughout the whole world. This includes Southeast Asia, North America, and Western Europe (Wertz). Back before industrialization, the normal Chinese peasant rarely ate any meat. Most of their meals “consisted of rice accompanied with green vegetables, with protein coming from foods like peanuts” (Wertz). Chinese peasants also knew their land very well. They “apparently [knew] every edible plant in their environment” (Valera). Peasants did not eat much, but those who were wealthy, could afford bigger amounts of food.

In Chinese culture, if one were to be overweight, it “was a sign of prosperity and wealth,” since they had the ability to purchase luxurious foods (Wertz). At the same time, being overweight was also a sign of bad luck. The Chinese thought that being able to have a balanced diet was the way to life a balanced life. Overeating and over drinking represented the dynasty falling, so it was considered a sin (Valera). In China, vegetarians are not very common. It it not unusual, but most of the population is not a vegetarian. If there were a case where one was a vegetarian, they were mostly Buddhists (Wertz). Those who are not vegetarian though, eat lots of things along with vegetables. Chinese cuisine mostly consists of rice, dumplings, noodles, and steamed buns.

In Southern China, rice is a lot more common compared to other areas; but in Northern China, wheat based bread or buns are more common (Wertz). The most common dishes throughout China, are fried rice, soups, tofu dishes, duck dishes, kung pao chicken, and many more. One may find these typical dishes in most Chinese restaurants (Wertz). When visiting Chinese restaurants, one may also find that most dishes are served whole. The Chinese believed that leaving things whole, such as fish with their heads still attached, represents the freshness of that certain food (Wertz). Chinese food also consists of many preserved foods. This can vary from smoking, salting, pickling, drying, soaking, etc. They do this in case of an emergency or any struggles that may come in the future (Valera).

Though one may find any these dishes in a Chinese restaurant, what one will not find very common are desserts. Chinese cuisine does not incorporate a lot of desserts into their meals. If there were a case where a dessert was presented, it would most likely be things such as fresh fruit, fried desserts, or anything incorporated with red bean paste (Wertz). Another common thing that is not usually served in Chinese cuisine, are cold drinks. The Chinese believe that cold drinks are harmful, while eating a meal for the fact that they believe hot teas help to digest greasy foods.

In most Chinese restaurants, one will find hot teas served, rather than cold water or cold drinks (Wertz). Chinese restaurants are different from any other restaurant. They are usually loud and one can hear the loud talking of all the parties. It is believed that the louder the restaurant is, the better the food is. If one favors to have a quiet environment while eating at a restaurant, a private room would have to be reserved ahead of time (Hinsbergh). Overall, it may be said that Chinese cuisine has its unique aspects including its origin, history, and the physical food itself.

Though the history, origin, and the food of Chinese cuisine is different and unique, the way Chinese eat their food is also significant. The Chinese believe in using environment friendly utensils such as bamboo chopsticks. Though there are ivory and silver utensils, they are less common and are only used by the wealthy. The Chinese also believe that using knives and forks are barbaric for the fact that they can be used as weapons (Wertz). From that simple rule, one can come to the conclusion that Chinese etiquette is crucial in Chinese culture. For example, when greeting somebody before dinner, it is important to greet the elders first to show respect. Along with this, one must remember to allow the eldest to sit at the table first (Chinese).

Elders should also always be served first along with the children. Women are not supposed to eat until after everybody has eaten. The Chinese believe that women are supposed to take care of the housework and dishes; this results in women not being able to eat until all other members are served (Ma). Another important rule in Chinese culture, is to always bring a small gift when one has invited another family to eat a meal with them. This is another sign of respect that can be shown. It is also crucial to try everything on the table when going over to one’s house to have a meal with them (Chinese).

In every meal, there usually consists of 4 to 6 cold dishes along with 8 to 10 hot dishes. A soup is usually also presented during a full meal. When eating an informal lunch or dinner, lunch or dinner boxes are usually made to eat with your party (Ma). Though there are so many things needed to do, there are multiple things that should not be done. For example, do not give handshakes, especially a firm handshake. Unlike America, “a firm handshake could be misconstructed as a sign of aggression (Chinese).”

Another important rule in Chinese culture, is to never ever stick chopsticks right side up into food while eating. This symbolizes death, and should never be done. Lastly, one should never write in red ink, whether it is a thank you note, signing something, etc (Chinese). This simple action, represents protest and can be very disrespectful (Chinese). As one can see, Chinese etiquette, during meals, plays a crucial role in Chinese culture.

Conclusively, these are the factors of Chinese cuisine that make the Chinese culture unique and significant. Reflecting on Jindal’s quote, the different cultures in this world, are what make the world unique. Chinese culture is a part of this world, and without Chinese culture, this world would not the same. More importantly, the history, origin, food, and etiquette of Chinese cuisine are crucial to Chinese culture. These factors make Chinese culture distinct and unlike any other.


Cite this paper

Unique Chinese Cuisine. (2021, Aug 23). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/unique-chinese-cuisine/



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