Chinese cooking, like most of Asia, focuses first on a starch like rice or noodles, then adds an accompaniment of meat or seafood, rather than meat first, starch and vegetables second, as found in European-influenced cuisines. Recipes in China are as diverse as the language, with its 80,000 characters, and Chinese immigrants have brought this complex culinary heritage to almost every region of the world.
With a population over 1.3 billion, there are many mouths to feed in China. The region's vast history and geography can be felt throughout the many facets of Chinese cuisine. The peppers, garlic, ginger and onions now considered classic components of Chinese cooking were originally delivered to the region by Buddhist missionaries two thousand years ago.
Traditionally, Chinese culinary characteristics are divided by region. The northern portion of China has a distinct Mongolian influence, characterized by the nomadic simplicity of the fire pot. Since rice is not grown in the north, there is more emphasis on noodles, soybeans and breads. To the south, Cantonese cooking evolved in a rich agricultural region; and local cuisine highlights fresh fruit and seafood. Spicy foods prevail in the western mountain regions of Szechuan and Hunan.
For more information on regional Chinese cooking, check out Chinese Cuisines in the Hong Kong section.
from Kate's Global Kitchen:
China on Wikipedia
Hong Kong on Global Gourmet's Destinations
More country Destinations
This page modified February 2007
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