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Chinese Food

China is a huge country, so as you might expect Chinese cuisine is wildly diverse. Many Americans and other westerners frequent Chinese restaurants, but may be unaware that this type of food is not authentic Chinese food. There are actually a significant number of differences between traditional Chinese cooking and "American Chinese" food.

American Chinese food was born out of necessity, as many Chinese immigrants were once excluded from many jobs. They opened restaurants, adapting their traditional cuisine using local ingredients and catering to American tastes. Whereas classic Chinese cuisine heavily features vegetables, they are often just garnish in American-Chinese food, which focuses on meat. Traditional Chinese food also prominently features fresh meats and live seafood, giving it a more pungent scent.

In authentic Chinese food, there are eight "Great Traditions":
  • Anhui, known for use of wild game and herbs
  • Cantonese, which incorporates a wide variety of ingredients and focus on subtle flavors
  • Fujian, which is light but flavorful, tender, and focuses on emphasizing basic flavor
  • Hunan, which is known for being "dry hot" or just plain hot, using chilies and shallots
  • Jiangsu, a Chinese cuisine with many very soft dishes and seasonal ingredient choices
  • Shandong, focusing on seafood with light tastes, as well as soups
  • Szechuan, a style full of bold flavors
  • Zhejiang, a diverse style with fresh and soft flavors

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