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chaste_nosferatu

Authentic Chinese food

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Folks I have been cruising through this forum and I am struck by one thought, you are by and large discussing American Chinese food. My wife and I are living in China and rather than spend the next eight hours replying to posts trying to enlighten a few posters I have started this thread for one purpose. If anyone wants to know about real honest to God authentic Chinese food as it is made in China ASK ME. I will tell you and if I don't know the answer I will find it for you as some of my close friends here (guanxi baby!!) are traditionally trained chefs born and bred in the PRC. I am not the expert but I will translate for you what they say and give you this westerners take on the culinary landscape.

So let 'er rip people...

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Tso was utterly ruthless. He smashed the Taiping rebels in four provinces, put down an unrelated revolt called the Nian Rebellion, then marched west and reconquered Chinese Turkestan from Muslim rebels.

HE WAS NO CHICKEN

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Folks I have been cruising through this forum and I am struck by one thought, you are by and large discussing American Chinese food.  My wife and I are living in China and rather than spend the next eight hours replying to posts trying to enlighten a few posters I have started this thread for one purpose.  If anyone wants to know about real honest to God authentic Chinese food as it is made in China ASK ME. .....

So TELL ME - What is difference between what a Chinese family cooking and eating in Flushing, New York {and} a similar family cooking and eating in Shanghai, PRC ?


anil

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welcome, vamp. Where are you based?

The big difference I found between chinese food in the UK (ie mainly HK food) and the grub in beijing was the real stuff was REALLY heavy, stodgy, braised aubergines with half an inch of oil sitting on top &tc. Very different from the "light, healthy stir-fry" image of traditional HK food we get in the west.

brits aren't the only nation who can do stodge!

cheerio

J


More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!

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Thanks

Having been in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan I have experienced native food and have found it has not translated for the most part in Chinese American restaurants. Once in a while I get a dish that transports me back to a particular occasion in Asia, but for the most part that is not the case.

Sadly, your effort will become just another forum for people to tear down your credibilty and prove to themselves that they know more than you.

When I was much younger I used to sell antiques and collectibles at a flea market. The guy at the next booth taught me a technique called --"KILL THE MAVIN".

Leo Rosten, in his book "The Joys of Yiddish" defines mavin as, " An expert; a really knowledgeable person; a good judge of quality; a connoisseur."

Someone comes to your booth with a friend--The Mavin. You have a discussion with the customer about something he is interested in. Along comes the Mavin who acts as the expert and trys to tear down what you have been saying so as to get a better price for his friend or to get the friend not to make the purchase. Your job becomes spending your time killing the mavin.

So watch out and lots of luck.

Viejo Majadero


The Best Kind of Wine is That Which is Most Pleasant to Him Who Drinks It. ---- Pliney The Elder

Wine can of their wits the wise beguile,

Make the sage frolic, and the serious smile. --- Homer

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Sadly, your effort will become just another forum for people to tear down your credibilty and prove to themselves that they know more than you.

I don't think so.

chaste_nosferatu, what do you know about how fermented rice is used?


"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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What credibility? Credibility isn't something you claim. It's something you establish. I hope chaste_nosferatu establishes a lot of credibility, and I assure you at that point nobody will be trying to tear it down.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I thought authentic chinese food was a small bowl of rice for most of the south, and maybe some instant noodles for most of the north...perhaps with a pickle or a little meat if times are good, at least for most of the population for most of the time.

Yes, there are great feasts and court food, but only for the lucky few.


Edited by jackal10 (log)

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What credibility? Credibility isn't something you claim. It's something you establish. I hope chaste_nosferatu establishes a lot of credibility, and I assure you at that point nobody will be trying to tear it down.

Fat

Come on. The guy said he is not an expert but would rely on some. He is trying to help.

But look for example at Anil's writing.

And Jinmyo -- I can't tell if she asked a question or issued a challenge.

As for assurance on your part -- unless you are going to monitor every post prior to it being published you cannot possible assure anything. I say and write this with all due respect to all.

Viejo


The Best Kind of Wine is That Which is Most Pleasant to Him Who Drinks It. ---- Pliney The Elder

Wine can of their wits the wise beguile,

Make the sage frolic, and the serious smile. --- Homer

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Jackal: That's certainly an important point: what is authentic Chinese food? Under Communism, much of the infrastructure necessary for production of that cuisine was destroyed on the mainland and preserved by communities in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Certainly, in the Chinatowns of North America, there is plenty of authentic Hong Kong cuisine.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Viejo, maybe you missed the "rather than spend the next eight hours replying to posts trying to enlighten a few posters I have started this thread for one purpose" part of the post. Let's see some information here before we make any judgments. I can guarantee you, if great info pours forth, everybody will be thrilled.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Fat

We shall see.

Viejo


The Best Kind of Wine is That Which is Most Pleasant to Him Who Drinks It. ---- Pliney The Elder

Wine can of their wits the wise beguile,

Make the sage frolic, and the serious smile. --- Homer

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Folks I have been cruising through this forum and I am struck by one thought, you are by and large discussing American Chinese food.

I think we've well and frequently acknowledged the fact here that "American Chinese food" is mostly Cantonese (and inferior Cantonese as well), that we are largely tired of it, that occasionally we get a real find of a restaurant which serves food from another region, and that even then the actual food served in that region frequently uses different ingredients and different preparations from something with the same name here. Also, we know that many of our "Chinese" dishes are completely Western in origin--created by Chinese immigrants to the west.

Read a little closer, or at least maybe a little further back in the posting history here, and you'll find all of this.

Plus we've got plenty of Canadians posting here. They aren't talking about American Chinese food. Nor the Brits, the Aussies, the Japanese, the Indian or the French posters, to name a few.

This isn't to say that there aren't lots of things about actual Chinese cooking which we know we aren't completely in the dark about. For example, you mention knowing classically trained chinese chefs. One of the bigger areas of ignorance here is about how non-Western chef systems work. Also, we probably know a lot less about what people cook in their actual homes, since that's the food knowledge which travels least.


Edited by jhlurie (log)

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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....

But look for example at Anil's writing.

.....

Huh ? Nobody in this forum has ever tried to challenge or denigrate others by claiming that the posters did not know what chinese food is. Many amongst us have been to China, some are of chinese ancestry, and many are related by marriage to folks of chinese origin.

Eddie the forum moderator has caste a vast 'net to include many streams-of-thought. The original poster was being condesending and agressive. Please do re-read it again as Steven Shaw pointed out -- Mavin in your example are the kind of people who cruise by this forum and proclaims by living in China, they knows what chinese eat in China -

Viejo, many of us also have travelled extensively to places in Asia and are not that cluess or niave about what is or is not transportable ....... We also have just enough intelligence, not to cast aspersions on other's understanding of chinese food.


anil

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Is the rice really just for tourists? Or is that only the practice in Japan?

Lei hou ma to your friends in China... and I like the lawyer sentiment as well. :wink:

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I didn't reply to chaste_nosferatu's post because I really wanted to see what he had to say for himself, but since this thread has taken this turn, I'll put my two cents in as well. First, I think his post does come off as more than a bit pompous and certainly seems to fly in the face of good netiquette. On the face of it, he seems to have arrived saying no one here knows what they are talking about and then takes what seems to be a you need me more than I need you attitude.

I wondered why anyone would bother to do that and I reread the post several time and then several more times trying to slant the intonation and I've come to suspect that I and most of you have not given him a chance to make himself clear. Let's just accept his post as saying, I'm living in China and have close friends who are chefs here and that perhaps I can be of service in getting some answers.

chaste_nosferatu, you, on the other hand, should understand that we have professionals here as well as those whose ties to China are quite alive. China is also a very large country and a country with a large population and areas whose local cultures and cuisines vary considerably. Chinese cuisine is also world famous and it's chefs have spreak the food worldwide. Chinese people themselves have established communities all over the world and the food and culture of many of these communities, particularly in SE Asia, may be seen by many as just another unique Chinese culture as that of one part of china is from another.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

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Anil

With all due respect I think you prove my point.

Viejo


The Best Kind of Wine is That Which is Most Pleasant to Him Who Drinks It. ---- Pliney The Elder

Wine can of their wits the wise beguile,

Make the sage frolic, and the serious smile. --- Homer

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Bux, you wrote, " Let's just accept his post as saying, I'm living in China and have close friends who are chefs here and that perhaps I can be of service in getting some answers. "

That is what I read my first time through. Nothing more.

Viejo


The Best Kind of Wine is That Which is Most Pleasant to Him Who Drinks It. ---- Pliney The Elder

Wine can of their wits the wise beguile,

Make the sage frolic, and the serious smile. --- Homer

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If anyone wants to know about real honest to God authentic Chinese food as it is made in China ASK ME.  I will tell you and if I don't know the answer I will find it for you as some of my close friends here (guanxi baby!!) are traditionally trained chefs born and bred in the PRC.  I am not the expert but I will translate for you what they say and give you this westerners take on the culinary landscape.

So let 'er rip people...

Fortune cookies

I believe fortune cookies are invented by Americans / Westerners.

Is it true? Do you find them in Chinese restaurants in China or is it only in the USA.

Fun

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Nervously I send my first post.

My husband and I were in Hong Kong the week, Red China opened up the borders for the first time. We were fortunate enough to be the second American group allowed into Canton.

We were thrilled to go there at that time.

Loving Asian food and traveling extensively we were not excited by the food we received. We felt that, at that time (the 70's) the caliber of the procuce and meat left a lot to be desired. I do think there are many changes since that time.

I, for one would like to hear what it is like today.

Beverly

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Beverly,

welcome to egullet!


Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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I'd like to ask a few questions.

1. What does the typical chinese person eat for lunch and dinner? Whats the staple diet (besides rice of course)/what do they cook for themselves most often? What are the most common ingredients?

2. What would they like to eat for lunch and dinner? Like what would they like if they had the money, like I think most American's would love a good steak but it can be expensive and hard to make right.

3. What regional Chinese cuisine do most people there consider to be the best? Northern/Western/Southern/etc.

Thanks.

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What does the typical chinese person eat for lunch and dinner?  Whats the staple diet (besides rice of course)/what do they cook for themselves most often?  What are the most common ingredients?

2.  What would they like to eat for lunch and dinner?  Like what would they like if they had the money, like I think most American's would love a good steak but it can be expensive and hard to make right.

3.  What regional Chinese cuisine do most people there consider to be the best?  Northern/Western/Southern/etc.

Thanks.

I'm pretty sure that the facts behind question #3 eliminate the possibility of a real answer to questions #1 and #2. "Chinese food" is far from a single cuisine, and at least to me the logical conclusion to be drawn from that would be that its going to be pretty hard to decide who a "typical" chinese person is, muchless what they eat.

I mean compare the question to "what does a typical American eat". The U.S is a much smaller country than China and an answer would still be close to impossible. While its true that China is a lot more culturally cohesive than the U.S. in general, one area that this apparently is NOT true with is food.


Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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:blink: Yikes! Sorry if I came off as rude and condescending, that was most definitely not my intention. Perhaps its my job as an English teacher rubbing off into all my writing, sorry for offending any and all. I re-read the post and I completely agree I sound like quite an ass and I am sorry it was not intentional. I spend most of my time online duking it out with other teachers on Dave's ESL cafe and I think I should have taken a breather before coming over here and posting. Please accept my apology. I guess it takes more than a smiley face on the post eh?

Jon Tseng-- My wife and I are in Northeastern China about 100 km NW of the North Korean border, Liaoning Province, Anshan is the name of the city it is 2 hours south of Shenyang. So by the nature of where I am the info I can provide by and large will be restricted to the tastes of Northern chinese with the vast majority here being of Manchu descent.

Jinmyo-- the area I live in the people cook with red fermented dof and green fermented dof. I haven't seen or heard of it as yet but will ask around.

Fat Guy-- every Chinese person I have asked here knows nothing of a General Tso and have never heard of the dish we know in the states as Gen. Tso's chicken even when I made it for them they professed ignorance and consulted with friends and family and all came up blank. As to your point about the cuisine changing my chinese friends and co-workers tell me that is not true. Yes, people starved during the Cultural Revolution but it was due to a lack of rice and wheat, the other foods are and have always been grown by yourself for yourself- veggies, fruits... One of my research projects here has been interviewing Chinese veterans of the Korean War and when I asked them about their diet they said it was no different than when they were children until now, the last six years it has changed. These are 80 and 90 year old men and they are quite sure of it. Recently they have begun to eat more meat whereas before they were too poor and relied heavily on family gardens for their vegetables which were the bulk of their diet. Prior to this meat was eaten maybe once a week.

Funcook-- there are no fortune cookies to be had in restaurants here. In fact the desserts the Chinese have when they rarely do eat dessert consist of fresh fruits. Actually the only truly healthy aspect of the common Chinese diet as it is here.

Beverly-- the quality of the produce is a real crap shoot at best. It never seems to become an issue with most Chinese as they do daily grocery shopping for that evening's meal. When we go shopping they all stare as it looks like we are anticipating a typhoon to hit and we're stocking up. The meat is scarey. The butcher section of a supermarket is not refrigerated and the slabs of meat are very fatty and in the summer it smells of sweet sickening rot. They way they butcher meat is VERY different. Steaks as we know it do not exist, the beef is usually sliced on a Hobart and then grilled. Our favorite restaurants here are the Korean b-b-q's, there is because of where we are a large Korean population. Back to the quality, most fruits will last a few days if refrigerated but veggies are mold or fungus covered in 36-48 hours no matter what. The meat we buy we freeze immediately and defrost the day we cook it.

Confusion-- where we live lunch usually is Korean barbecue or a large bowl of noodles with a few pieces of chipped re-hydrated beef or yak. The korean bbq is awesome. They bring out plates of seasoned thinly sliced beef that looks and tastes like Kobe and you grill it yourself over red hot coals at the table. Or you can get chicken feet, chicken knuckles, dog (a very expensive delicacy), organ meat, sheep kidneys are very popular, potatoes, sweet potatoes, lots of pork and carp is a very common food. Where we are near the sea we also get served a lot of squid and octopus. The people with the money when they indulge themselves and eat the western food of choice it is, brace yourself, Kentucky Fried Chicken. KFC is Ruth's Chris Steakhouse to them. If I was in China to make money I would open up as many of these darn franchises I could, they are packed day and night, breakfast, lunch and dinner. Also locally everyone makes their own pickled chinese cabbage, pickled garlic(incredibly awesome and have a recipe if anyone wants), and big huge spring onions are dried out on window ledges all winter along with stockpiling turnips for winter. Lots of cilantro and coriander seed in the cuisine here, that is the major feature spice-wise in our region. And almost forgot, beer, lots of beer at lunch, hey its a two hour lunch break so why not? :wacko:

Dinner here is dumplings if it is anything. And there are so many different kinds, beef, veggie, pork, dog, lamb, but donkey is the all around favorite stuffing for the dumplings in NE China. And honestly they are delicious, a lot easier to stomach than the fried Silkworm larvae and chrysalis or the fermented eggs.

The poster who said their recollection of chinese food being greasy and heavy was right on the money. If its cooked in oil it IS COOKED IN OIL. But they have lots of what they call "cool dishes" which are very good, I'd call them salads and there are as many different varieties as there are restaurants and man are there a LOT of restaurants. One thing of note, when we have toured and stayed in the "chinese only hotels" it is very different from both what they make at home and what they make for westerners. Living is quite different from touring and has been very enlightening I only wished to share what I have seen and learned for not everyone is as lucky and blessed as I have been to come and live here away from Shanghai, Canton, Hong Kong and Beijing which are very westernized and all my chinese friends will tell you it is not China, it is something of a melting pot or as they put it "it is China diluted for western minds and tongues".


Edited by chaste_nosferatu (log)

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      McDonald's Ice Cream and Drinks Kiosk.


      McDonald's Milk Tea Ad
       
      d) There are very formal tea tastings and tea ceremonies, similar in many ways to western wine tastings. These usually take place in tea houses where you can sample teas and purchase the tea for home use. These places can be expensive and some rare teas attract staggering prices. The places doing this pride themselves on preparing the tea perfectly and have their special rituals. I've been a few times, usually with friends, but it's not really my thing. Below is one of the oldest serious tea houses in the city. As you can see, they don't go out of their way to attract custom. Their name implies they are an educational service as much as anything else. Very expensive!
       

      Tea House

      Supermarkets and corner shops carry very little tea. This is the entire tea shelving in my local supermarket. Mostly locally grown green tea.
       

       

      Local Guangxi Tea
       
      The most expensive in the supermarket was this Pu-er Tea (普洱茶 pǔ ěr chá) from Yunnan province. It works out at ¥0.32per gram as opposed to ¥0.08 for the local stuff. However, in the tea houses, prices can go much, much higher!
       

       
       
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