A meal in Chinese culture is typically seen as consisting of two general components. One is main food --- a carbohydrate source or starch, typically rice (predominant in southern parts of China), noodles, or buns (predominant in northern parts of China). The other one is accompanying dishes, such as vegetables, fish, meat or other items. This is different from Western meals which meat or animal protein is often considered as the main dish. In fact, it is a harmony among grain, vegetable and meat.
Chinese foods pay much attention on perfect harmony with the color, aroma, taste and shape, which share equal importance in the preparation of each dish, thereby, satisfying the gustatory, olfactory, and visual senses. A good dish itself is a work of art which can be attractive to every sensory organ of people.
Usually, a meat or a vegetable dish is prepared from one main ingredient and two to three secondary ingredients. These ingredients’ colors, aromas, tastes, shapes and nutrition should match each other very well. It is then cooked with the appropriate method, seasonings and sauces to result in an aesthetically attractive dish. The primary methods of preparation include stir-frying, stewing, steaming, deep-frying, flash-frying, and pan-frying.
| || |
Chinese people like having meals together with their relatives and friends. All people have their own main food but share dishes which are put in the center of table. Despite of hygiene concern, the atmosphere is very lively and the relationship of the people becomes closer due to the sharing. It is why the family reunion meal is so important for every family member. It is not only a time to enjoy delicious and various foods and drinks, but an occasion to unit a family together.
What’s more, friends also have meals together to improve their friendship. Businessmen have meals together to establish new business and preserve old ones. People have meals together on the occasion of the birth of babies, weddings, birthdays, academic or professional promotions and even burial. Eating is much more than physical enjoyment and it is a good way to maintain social harmony.
As we all know, Chinese people like eating food with chopsticks. They are very difficult for some western people who usually use spoons and knives. It might be the simplest eating tools. The two sticks also express the wisdom of harmony and balance.