In Chinese, the number 10,000 is denoted by one hieroglyph – “wan”. One of the sages of the Tang dynasty said that the imperial cuisine is famous for its culinary diversity: there are at least 100 different dishes, that is, more than 1,000,000. Of course.
it cannot be ruled out that such a comment was flattery aimed at the chefs of the Son of Heaven. But even today, the Celestial Empire is distinguished by its culinary variety. Chinese dishes with their original range of flavors stand out against the background of any national tradition.
The origins of strange tastes
Many people mistakenly believe that Chinese cuisine uses raw materials, to put it mildly, non-standard for Europeans: dog meat, cockroaches, mice. In fact, both the first, and the second, and the third are present in some recipes. But, as a rule, we are talking about the southern regions of the country. The northerners, in terms of gastronomy, are closer to the Slavs.
Another specific feature of the dishes is the strange taste. Every now and then in meat dishes a fishy tint is felt, then potatoes smell like an apple. This trait also comes from the imperial era. The fact is that the ruler, as a rule, was a great gourmet. When the cooks received the order to cook carp.
the unfortunate people could not disobey. If it was not possible to catch a fish, then a demonstrative execution followed. The enterprising culinary experts, however, realized that the clever technology of mixing spices and sauces made it possible to disguise ordinary pork as fish. Roughly the same scheme worked when the master demanded to cook deer meat: the raw materials used were the horses that had worked in the imperial cavalry.
Balancing heat and cold
Almost all Chinese people believe in Traditional Chinese Medicine. According to its canons, the balance of qi energy in the human body is subject to changes due to displacements of the balance of internal heat and internal cold (they are also yin and yang).
Heat and cold, in turn, are influenced by food, which is divided into hot and cold. And this is not at all about its physical temperature. For example, an apple, no matter how hot it is, will still remain cold, and chilled ginger, which is hot in nature, if eaten at night, will lead to what the Chinese call “sham hue.” This phenomenon is expressed in different symptoms: from stomatitis to colds and has no explanation in scientific medicine.
Seasonings without which food is not food
Do you know which Slavic dish makes the Chinese nervous? You will never guess: boiled potatoes! Why? Yes, because it is fresh, even if salty, it has a very muffled homogeneous taste. Both in the Middle Kingdom and beyond its borders, the Chinese actively use spices. Spicy lovers (as a rule, they come from the southern provinces) actively use chili and several other varieties of dried peppers.
The most potent of them, like mania, can make a person speechless for half an hour if consumed in its pure form. In some provinces, sugar is added to any dishes, in others – vinegar. But usually we are not talking about one or two components. Factory-made sauces and food additives are a relatively recent trend.
One such product, Lao Gamma (Named Aunt), is a thick, spicy essence made from chunks of chicken and chili. A couple of years ago, a product manufacturer became one of the largest taxpayers in the PRC. The addiction to the “Named Aunt” was found, the reason for which remained unknown, but according to the information of competitors, it is opium oil in the composition.
Traditional Chinese cuisine, however conservative, absorbs influences from other cultures. Sometimes the results of this influence are quite amusing. For example, the inhabitants of the Celestial Empire prepare the dish “kele-tszichy” with … Coca-Cola. Chicken wings are first generously marinated with soy sauce, ginger and sugar, and then stewed in cola. In some embodiments, Pepsi or other beverages are used.
Not a side dish, but bread
Slavic bread seems sour to the Chinese. This is no accident: the largest nation in the world is not used to such baked goods. The fact is that Chinese buns are sweet and much smaller than the usual loaves and loaves. The Chinese bread used with all dishes is rice. Yes, it’s bread, not a side dish. They eat it a lot, combining it in different versions with noodles, meat, seafood. At the same time, there is a huge variety of types of noodles, mushrooms and vegetables, which are not considered side dishes for meat, but are used as separate dishes.
Hue go and food etiquette
Hue go is an original dish that is eaten hot, or even boiling. Many restaurants serving hue go are even equipped with special tables with a cut-out circle for an electric stove. The composition of the dish can be different, usually it is meat, scraps, bones, offal, vegetables, hot spices. But the essence of the dish is the unification of guests and pleasant communication.
“To go to hue go” among the Chinese is a synonym for Russian “to go for tea”. Chinese rules of etiquette are quite far from European ones. For example, it is allowed to chomp at the table and, moreover, even welcomed. Silent consumption of food can be met with censure: if pleasure is not shown noisily, then the food is tasteless. Another distinctive cultural moment: the Chinese eat everything together from common plates, putting on their own whatever they like, but little by little. Chinese chopsticks should be handled with care: there is a taboo on tapping them on dishes or sticking them vertically into rice.