Hot bean paste in China: Cooking & Baking Posted November 19, 2003 I guess this could be construed as a cultural issued. My Cantonese sensibilties are not so ingrained that they would deny me the pleasure of a zinging hot and spicey dish once in a while, but not as a regular part of my diet, and not so extreme. However, in all the philosophical dissertations on the preparation, serving and the eating of food as written by the "Old Guys" like Lin Yu Tang, Confucius, et al., one of the central philosophies espoused by them is balance, or harmony, if you will. You know, yin and yang, dark and light, male and female,and, hot and cold. Also, extremes should not be tolerated. But then they may well have been writing these treatises for the more "civilized" parts of the Chinese civilization, ie. the eastern, southern and central parts of China, regions that fell under the influence of the Imperial Court. I may be wrong in my assumption, but I had always detected a superior attitude of the Chinese from these regions towards the people of the western and the far northern frontiers (Szechuan and Manchuria). That sense of superiority extended to food preferences as they considered the food of the frontiers was somewhat "primitive". We now know that this is not the case as creative and resourceful people will always use what is readily at hand. I have noticed though, that when people are introduced to anything new, whether it be music, literature, food, they take a liking to that which appeals to and makes an impact on their senses. It takes a bit more aculturation for them to appreciate the finer shades and nuances of the new discovery. Almost every young person takes an immediate liking to Led Zeppelin, but Bach and Beethoven requires more time.