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Introduction

The development and diversity of Chinese cuisine  representative of China's long history. With each dynasty new recipes were created.

China is a very large country and has many diverse climates such as: frozen tundra to the north, deserts to the centre and west, high plateaus to the south, and tropical weather to the extreme southeast.

Cooking styles vary with the climate is like, what natural resources are available, and what the people like to eat. Chinese cuisine also likes to use opposites, ying and yang. Therefore combinations like hot and cold, sweet and sour, crisp and fatty - are to be found together extensively.

Whilst China is very famous for specific dishes such as Peking Duck (Beijing Duck), Sichuan Hotpot and Dim Sum; this is not the normal way restaurants or patrons approach cooking a meal. Normally diners would order each main ingredient of each course and specify which style they want it cooking in. Therefore many dishes do not have any particular formal name. This is of course echoed in home cookery.

In China it is normal for a restaurant to cook in a specific regional way, and then in a particular style of that region. The various meats or fish are selected and cooked in that style for customers - the restaurant gaining fame by how popular it is. This explains why Chinese diners will always choose the busiest restaurant.

Regional Cuisine

Of all the regional style Cantonese is undoubtedly the most widely known throughout the world at large. Other styles may be well known in a location or city, but remember these will be modified to suit the palate and eating dispositions of you - the local population. They are not necessarily related to the true Chinese dish as cooked in China.

The main styles are:

Cantonese - Hong Kong and Guangdong; Sichuan); Shaanxi; Hunan; Shandong; Jiangsu, Huaiyang cuisine; Fujian; Zejiang; Anhui; Hui ethnic  minority cuisine; Xinjiang; Mongolian and Miao ethnic Cuisine.

As is well known throughout the world, rice is a critical part of much of Chinese cuisine. However, in many parts of China, particularly North China, wheat-based products including noodles and steamed buns predominate, in contrast to South China where rice is dominant.

A meal in Chinese culture is typically seen as consisting of two general components: (1) a carbohydrate source or starch, typically rice, noodles, or mantou (steamed buns), and (2) accompanying dishes of vegetables, fish, meat, or other items,

This article is reproduced with the kind permission of China Expats.

What do Chinese people eat?

A meal in Chinese culture is typically seen as consisting of two general components: (1) a carbohydrate source or starch, typically rice, noodles, or mantou (steamed buns), and (2) accompanying dishes of vegetables, fish, meat, or other items.

Appetiser / starter:

Chinese starters are normally cold dishes. Main materials in Chinese starters can be either vegetables or meat that has been cooked and then cooled down. Soysauce, vinegar, and hot peper oil etc are often used as flavoring in these cold dishes.

Main course :

The main course the Chinese people refer to are not dishes, but rice or wheat food like noodle or bun. This might be a major difference between Chinese food culture and western food culture. This difference has been formed due to the different food structure and different food concept. In traditional Chinese yin-yang theory's point of view, meats are not balanced in terms of yin-yang. So Chinese people do not take them as the main course. In a big banquet with a lot of dishes, people may not be able to eat much rice any more after having many kinds of dishes, but people normally would still have a small bowl of rice or noodle.

Soup 

Chinese soup are served after main dishes. This is another difference between Chinese food culture and western food culture.

Fruits 

The most typical dessert in Chinese dinner are fruits. High quality restaurants would often assemble a big plate with several types of fruits arranged in beautiful patterns. Most favorable fruits might be watermelon and pear, which can make one feel clean and clear in one's mouth and stomach after the meal.

Information courtesy of  foreigners-in-china

For breakfast?

As for Chinese breakfast, almost everything is cooked with  breakfast varying from region to region. Cantonese-style breakfast -- Yum Cha, or Dim Sum which are popular in Chinatowns around the world. Yum cha, literally, drink tea,Dim sum are little snacks, usually steamed, deep fried, or boiled, and the variety is enormous, hundreds of them, mostly savoury, In addition to dim sum, there’s lots of different types of tea in China - black tea, green tea, oolong tea, chrysanthamum tea, pu’er tea etc etc, and the green tea with dim sum is a wonderful combination to help the digestion. In other regions for example,Yunnan Province, southwest of China, the spicy and delicious oodles are very common breakfast. But in Guizhou, big bowl of wheat noodles are often poured with a falf inch layer of hot pig fat. In the North, people  tend to eat more wheat - for instance, steamed stuffed buns, deep-fried twisted dough stick, and various other steamed or fried snacks made from wheat flour.

Information courtesy of China.org

For Lunch?

The most popular lunch fare in many areas of China is typically a noodle soup, served everywhere, even on the streets at small stands. They will often have different toppings, or small round pork balls. There's also the traditional dim sum, these come in a wide variety of small plates of incalculable variety. 

For Dinner?

In a Chinese meal, each individual diner is given their own bowl of rice while the accompanying dishes are served in communal plates (or bowls) which are shared by everyone sitting at the table, a communal service known as "family style" in Western nations. In the Chinese meal, each diner picks food out of the communal plates on a bite-by-bite basis with their chopsticks

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