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A guide to Chinese cuisine

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  1. Introduction.
  2. Aspects of Chinese cuisine.
    1. Food already cut into bite-sized pieces.
    2. The idea of 'wholeness'.
    3. The idea of communal dishes.
  3. Eight major culinary schools in Chinese cuisine.
    1. The Anhui culinary school.
    2. The Hunan culinary school.
    3. Sichuan cuisine.
    4. The Cantonese culinary school.
    5. Traditional Cantonese cooking.
    6. The Fujian culinary school.
    7. Zhejiang cuisine.
    8. The Jiangsu culinary school.
    9. The Shandong culinary school.
  4. Conclusion.
  5. Bibliography.

Perhaps one of the first things that should be mentioned about Chinese cuisine is how much it differs from western cuisine. The primary difference of Chinese cuisine is usually attributed to a difference in staple crops (for the Chinese this is usually rice), and livestock (The Chinese eat primarily fish chicken and pork, and rarely eat beef). These differences alone however, do not explain all the differences between Chinese and western cuisine. One aspect of particular importance are the differences due to the differing beliefs and values that the Chinese have. One of the main aspects of Chinese Cuisine is that the food is already cut into bite-sized pieces so that they can be easily picked up using chopsticks. The Chinese do not believe in cutting food up at the table because the utensils necessary to do so, fork and knives, are considered weapons. Furthermore, it is considered impolite to have guests cut their own food, thus making dishes served in bite-sized pieces the norm.

[...] The Cantonese Culinary School relies on several different types of sauces, but tend to be of a lighter and thus blander taste, compared to sauces used in other Chinese cuisines, such as the Sichuan Culinary School. The main ingredients of Cantonese sauces include spring onions, sugar, salt, soy sauce, rice wine, corn starch, vinegar and sesame oil among other oils. Sometimes garlic is used heavily, especially when serving dishes that may emit unpleasant odors, such as internal organs. A few examples of important Cantonese sauces include Hoisin sauce, Oyster Sauce, Sweet and Sour sauce, Black bean paste, and others. [...]

[...] Out of these, the four most influential styles that represent Chinese Cuisine best are Cantonese, Sichuan, Shandong, and Huaiyang (which is a major style of Jiangsu cuisine). Sometimes, Chinese cuisine is said to have ten styles, which include Beijing cuisine and Shanghai cuisine as well. For this paper we will focus mainly on the primary eight. We still start with the Anhui culinary school, and work down on the western culinary schools before focusing on the eastern culinary schools that border the sea. [...]

[...] An interesting aspect of Sichuan cuisine is that beef is used more commonly than in the other Chinese cuisines, possibly due to the abundance of oxen in the area. Next we will be focusing on the main Chinese Cuisines that come from provinces lying along the eastern Coast of China. The Cantonese Culinary School, also one of the four most influential cuisines of China, comes from the Guangdong Province of China in the southeast region of China. It is perhaps the best-known Chinese cuisine outside of China. [...]

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