It is not easy to summarize the 'food culture' of a civilization as vast and as old as China's. It is important to understand that China was originally based on an agrarian or farming society and that many of the meals and habits we see to today are rooted in that society. Traditional Chinese cuisines do vary based on regional (north, south, east and west) weather, geography and availability.
The greeting for many Chinese when meeting one another tends not to be "How are you?", but more popularly, "Have you eaten?".
The serving of meals in China is a communal affair. Chinese food is often taken together as a family unit with the emphasis on shared dishes. Only the rice or buns are served individually; everything else is shared from a communal bowl, including the main soup. This tradition has been maintained in Chinese restaurants around the world!
An important part of the Chinese culture is to greet each other while sitting down for a meal and wait for everyone to be seated before a meal can start. The most senior or elderly person at the table will take the first bite and only then will the rest of the diners join in.
About those chopsticks...The culture of chopsticks has a long history in China, over 5000 years to be exact. The invention of chopsticks reflects the wisdom of Chinese ancient people. A pair of chopsticks, though they look simple, can nip, pick, rip and stir food. Nowadays, chopsticks are considered to be lucky gifts for marriage and other important ceremonies.
Easy Fried Rice
- 2 green onions chopped
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- Pepper to taste
- 4 Tablespoons of oil for frying
- 4 Cups of cold brown rice
- 1 - 2 Tablespoons of soy sauce or oyster sauce
Wash and finely chop the green onion.
Lightly beat the eggs and add the salt and pepper.
Heat a wok or frying pan and add 2T of oil.
When the oil is hot, add the eggs and stir until lightly scrambled. When done, remove and clean the wok or pan.
Add 2T of oil and the rice. Stir fry for a few minutes using chop sticks to break apart. Stir in the soy or oyster sauce.
Add the egg back into the rice along with the green onions.
Note: Other vegetables may be added.
Cashew Chicken Chop Suey
- 2 boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced celery
- 1 small onion, thinly sliced
- 3 Tablespoons of soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon freshly minced ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1-1/2 cups of fresh bean sprouts
- 1-8oz. Can of water chesnuts, drained
- 1 can bamboo shoots, drained
- 1 cup mushrooms, freshly sliced
- ½ cup cashews
Combine chicken, celery, onion, soy sauce, ginger and pepper in a 2 quart casserole dish. Mix well. Cover. Microwave at high for 5 - 8 minutes or until vegetables are tender and chicken is no longer pink. Stir twice during the process.
Blend cornstarch and water in a 1 cup measuring cup. Add to the casserole dish.
Stir in the remaining ingredients, except the cashews.
To thicken, microwave uncovered at high for 15 - 19 minutes until the mixture is thickened and translucent stirring 2 or 3 times.
Serve over hot rice.
Sprinkle with cashews. Serves 4.