What is the real Chinese food?

When talking about Chinese food, what would you come up with?

Sweet and Sour Chicken? Aromatic Duck? Chicken Gyoza? Hoisin Fried Noodle?…

Oh…Come on! That is what we call ‘Western Chinese food’! In China, we nearly never heard of these dishes. Don not be cheated by those so-called ‘Chinese Restaurants’!

In this blog post, I will tell you what Chinese people often eat everyday.

Breakfast:

porridge/congee(made of rice or with other beans or even with vegetables,meats and seafoods):

                                  pure rice congee                      eight beans congee                 seafoods congee

foods made of flour, like bun, Chinese pancakes,Chinese cakes :

                                              pork bun                              leek pancake                             red bean cake

soybean milk( in fact, our soybean milk is purely made by soybean and water, no milk) with Chinese deep fried  dough sticks:

                               you can choose to eat separately or soak the dough stick into the soybean milk

But these are just some common foods most Chinese may have for breakfast. People in different regions of China still have their own preferences for breakfast.

Take noodles for example. Lots of Chinese people prefer to have noodles for breakfast, but these noodles are distinctive in shape, ingredient and flavor. In Chongqing, a city with the reputation of being desperate for spicy foods, their breakfast noodle is thin and soft noodles boiled in spicy, oily and salty soup, served with homemade meat paste. In Xiamen, typical breakfast noodle is thick and chewy noodles boiled  in peanut sauce soup, served with whatever you choose, like meat slices, fish ball, duck intestines, bean curd, etc. In Guangdong, Cantonese breakfast noodle is thin curly noodles made of flour and yolk boiled in light soup, served with shrimp wontons.

                             Chongqing spicy noodle   Xiamen peanut sauce noodle  shrimp wonton noodle

While in the northern part of China, people prefer a variety of Chinese wraps for breakfast. Tianjin, the city where I spent for years for undergraduate life is especially famous for its ‘breakfast wraps’. To set location flexibly and save rental, most of these wrap sellers will use a cart equipped with all the ingredients and equipments they need. But those famous sellers will finally had a fixed address.

Below are the 3 most authentic Tianjin breakfast wraps, namely ‘everything-in egg wrap’, ‘pancake with fried dough stick (or crispy slices)’ and ‘egg-in wrap with whatever you like’. Ok, these are just my personal translations, do not blame me for being unable to express the soul of these delicious foods I used to have every morning.

Lunch:

In contrary to Western people’s concept of a simple lunch package consisted of sandwich, beverage and snack, for Chinese people,lunch is the most important meal of a day. While there are more than 20 styles of cooking in China and there are loads of international restaurants available, it is hard to distinguish any typical foods for lunch. But one thing fixed is food made of rice or flour, like steamed rice, steamed bun, noodles, Chinese cake or pancake or pastry. Chinese people can not live without these things!

                                         steamed rice                            steamed bun                      BBQ pork pastry

Dinner:

For different people and different contexts, dinner can be treated either simply or formally. As far as I know, most Chinese people prefer to have simple foods with less calories for dinner because they may not have any further exercise at night. But if the context is to have a feast or a celebration either personal or for business,  dinner is always the choice to make communications with each other.

Boozy cadre culture  is a popular phrase to describe the phenomenon that most business or government affairs are discussed and settled during dinner with large amount of alcohol. The more you drink, the easier the case will be solved.

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About me:

Born and grow up in northern China, I’ m sorry to say that I really love the southern foods, especially the Shanghai, Fujian and Cantonese foods with a sweeter and less salty flavor.

My preference might generate from the flavors of my mum’s cuisines with less oil and seasonings (unlike most oily northeast cuisines with heavy flavor) that filled my childhood and youth. I still remember during the time when I was in my final year of senior high school, to ensure that I get enough nutrition and eat healthily, my mum would drive to my school at lunch and dinner time everyday to deliver her homemade meal package with healthy and fresh foods. Even though it was the darkest time of every Chinese student (faced with the heavy burden from university entrance examination),  I cherish it for it witnessed the care and love of my mum.

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