On the differences between Chinese and western food culture

By Annie Gordon,2014-03-29 01:28
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On the differences between Chinese and western food culture

On the differences between Chinese and western food culture


    Introduction Food is the most important material in maintaining our life and improving the quality of our bodies, and is basic for the development as well. An old saying goes like this “food is the heaven to the people”, which means

     that food ranks the first in all our needs .we should eat and drink before we

     engage ourselves in the course of politics, science, art, and religion act’s all producing activities of human, especially food production become a basic condition of the whole history .Food is so fundamental to our life so that all the other aspects of our living are determined by it, built on it, and limited by it. Since the human being cook with fire for the first time and come to a civilian age ,the food we eat has begun to be of cultural property .It is not a history of sub-human eating and drinking ,but a history in which the human being conquers the nature, change the nature, and get adapted to nature to exist and develop .And in this historic process, the human gradually formed its food culture .Food as a category of culture, helps us to understand every area of the oriental and occidental world .With Chinese entry to the world ,plenty of things which are fresh to us ,at once flock to our country .Among them, of course , food culture of other nations come into our too .Nowadays, many people out of

     curiosity ,taste difference sort of food of other countries .But few of them these people really grasp the essence of the food culture. While the food of one

    place can reflect its culture, so it is necessary for us to learn the differences between Chinese and western food culture.

Chapter 2 Definition of food culture

     Food culture is an important part of human culture .It has two definitions in broad sense and narrow sense .In the broad sense, food culture has something in common with cooking culture, and it is considered as the counterpart of the latter. Generally speaking, cooking culture refers to the total amount of material and spirit treasure which is created and accumulated during the long period of food production and procession by the human being .It is about

     what food human makes, and how to make .It includes the food ingredient, cooking tool, cooking skill and so on. In the narrow sense, food culture refers to the sum-up of material and spirit treasure created and passed down in the long period of human eating the food product. It is about what human eat, and how to eat and why eat such food etc. It includes the variety of food, the tool uses in eating, the customs of eating, and the service of eating act. In a word, cooking culture come to birth in the course of food production and procession. It is a production culture, while food culture in the narrow sense is a kind

     of consuming culture, which come to birth in the course of food consuming .The production and the consuming is tightly connected to each other. If there is no cooking culture, they will be no food culture .The first one is the premi

    se of the latter. The latter is derived from the first one .Thus, we usually define food culture in broad sense that is the sum-up of cooking culture and eating culture.

Chapter 3 The differences between Chinese and western food culture

     China has a long history of 5000 years, while the west has one of about six hundred years .China has a food culture that is colorful, profound and excellent, while the west has its own special culture. Now we’d like to talk about the differences between these two cultures from the following aspects.

    3.1 the difference of idea about food

    What Chinese people care about is the deliciousness of food .They empha

    size the idea of using some cooking skills to unite and harmonize the tast

    es of foods which have different natural properties, Chinese people value t

    he similarity of different things. According to their traditional idea, they te

    nd to seek the relationship between two different objects, and make them

    change to each other. So they value the unity of different tastes and they

     always try to harmonize food of different natural properties into one .For

     example , in Shandong dishes , pork and soybean oil are interdependent

    and their combination can almost make all dishes be of fantastic smell of

     pork and color of soybean .It thus make food of different natures get un

    ification. So we see, mediocrity is the theme of Chinese cooking culture.

    Since the westerners believe in separation of the universe and human in their cultural spirit and thinking model, emphasize the form and structure and value the clearness, they form a special idea about the food science. The very idea is that ecological belief in separation of the universe and human world, proper idea of balanced nutrient. In their opinion, one should choose his food only according to his need as an independent individual and the balanced requirement of all kinds of nutrients for each part of his body. They consider it is important to make the proper match of food by

     the criterion of variety and quantity. Through cooking of the raw materials, they display the nice taste of all kinds of materials .What they want is

     to meet the physiological need of the body .For example, the taste of crab lobster and sea fish live completely different, the westerners will definitely not mix the tastes of them when they prepare the dish with them.

    3.2 The differences of cooking skill

    The so-called Chinese meditation of five flavors refers to the original taste

     of the food after heated and cooked, and the flavors of ingredients and condiments mix together and melt into each other and complement each other. Chinese people more often than not add two or more condiments into

     the food and by this realize the perfect harmony of the taste of the arterial and condiments. The ultimate end of meditation is to cook delicious food. Therefore, Chinese people will surely add two or more kinds of ingredients and condiments to almost every dish they cook, even some commo

    n home-made dishes, such as sliced meat, stir-fried with garlic bolts, while the same material and ingredients are cooked in western way, the chef would probably slice the beef and tomatoes separately and put them in a plate with two potatoes and four vegetable leaves without mixing with each other and thus affecting the taste of each other. The westerners emphasize nutrition and balanced in their diet, so they prepare their food according to scientific instructions strictly without any exception. The taste of the steak doesn’t differ from New York to LosAngels`and its other ingredients

     ,without any doubt are tomatoes, potatoes, and vegetable leaves .Moreover ,normalized cooking requires that the condiments should be added precisely by gram ,and the length of time needs to be calculated by seconds .

3.3 The difference of what food the people eat

     We can enjoy the food culture , of which the premise condition is the food ,without food, we are not able to cook and eat and exsit.chinese dishes are connected tightly to vegetables .Chinese people eat various vegetables which are up to 600 kinds in number, 6 times as many as the westerners do .As a matter of fact ,in Chinese diet ,vegetables is a rather common food .Only in festivals or in the time when life condition is improved do they eat more meat .Due to this vegetarian characteristics in diet structure , Chinese people are sometimes regarded to be of plant character,

     when this character is reflected in the culture , we can see that Chinese

    people value reunion and they are attached to their hometown and are not

     willing to leave. The westerners are different, they are descendant of nomadic tribes and navigation peoples in their cultural origin .their ancestor lived mainly by fishing, hunting and feeding domestic animals and sometimes also by collecting and cultivation. So they ate more meat in their die

    ue to this, the westerners are considered by some people to be of anit. D

    mal character. As a result, the westerners like to peruse individuality and like adventure and exploration. In the history of America .during the period of westward movement, Americans packed their furniture and load them

     on the truck and then move away from their ling places to a new place without any hesitation. However, Chinese people miss their hometown all the time when they are abroad. Although it’s advocated that the young should be able to settle down in any place, those Chinese people who live overseas for several decades at the end come back to their motherland .This ideology and spirit of returning to the birthplace dose definitely have something to do with the essence of the Chinese food culture. It also strengthens the cohesive force of Chinese people.

    3.3 The difference of table manners

    In china , any banquet ,no matter for what purpose , is held in the same

     way .That is , people sit around a round table eating and drinking , entertaining and talking. This creates a atmosphere of unity and happiness and

     politeness. Delicious dishes are put in the center of the people and natur

    ally become the media by which people exchange their feelings and emotions. They toast to each other in a manner of great joy .Although according to hygiene standard, this kind of table manners obviously has big defects, it accords with the common idea great union of Chinese people .It also

     reflects the influence of the classical philosophy has on the Chinese descendants. In the west, people have their dinner in a completely different way .From the old time until now, they have never eaten food which is put

     in the same plate or bowl .Each of them has his own share of the food

     which is contained in his own plate .This displays the strong individuality of the westerners in their culture. They advocated individual idea, ask for individual freedom, try to realize individual dream, with as little limited

     and constriction from the mass as possible. This kind of thought poses great influence on the westerners’ daily diet. They emphasize the independence of individual, so from the beginning to the end they eat their own share of food .Even thought they also sitting around a table in dinner time, each of them has his own set of tableware, and his own share of dish. In

     this way they do not interfere each other. It seems somewhat cheerless and cold, but it is very healthy and clean. It is decided by oneself what he want to eat, how to eat, according to his own need and love. The individual has the right to choose the food. For example, when you go to a western restraint and ask for a share of steak, the cook may probably ask you questions like: would you like to roasted steak or fried steak., how lon

    g do you want your steak cooked etc.The cook will prepare the steak str

    ictly according to your requirement. Besides, condiments are usually put o

    n the tables .It depends on the customers to decide whether to add some

    condiments or not. So does the beverage drink?drinkmuch or little .It’s the

     customers’ own business. The waiters and waitress will not interrupt the


    3.5 The difference of tableware

     Chopsticks and knives are the two most typical table wares of the East and the West, representing two kinds of different wisdom. Chinese table wares are quite simple and are often used for several purposes. Chinese people use fewer types of table wares, which is also perhaps influenced by their idea of harmony and unification. Chopsticks are usually made from bamboo .hold a pair

     of chopsticks on hand and enjoy the dishes; it’s not only economical but also

     convenient. Chopsticks can do almost what our hands can do ,so chopsticks are often considered as stretched part of hands .In the west ,people often use several typed of table wares for one purpose, which may also probably result from the influence of the idea of individualism. Among the tableware, knives and

     forks are two kinds of table wares with very long history in the west .They play the same role dinning and they are always used together. One hand holds

     the knife, on the other hand hold the fork .cut the food with knife, and then

     put the food into the mouth with the fork. This has become a daily habit of people when they are eating .Moreover, in a formal banquet several sets of kn

    ives and forks are used. That means, when they eat one dish, they use one set

     of knives and forks. When they eat another dish, they use another set.

    Chapter 4 how to properly view the difference of the food culture between china and the west

     Chinese people have begun to eat Chinese food from their birth, so they may more or less feel tired of Chinese diet. Since the open-up policy was carried

     out, all sorts of foreign commodities flock into china ,western food especially

     the snacks quickly invade Chinese food market .In most big cities ,the advertisement of Kentucky and McDonald’s are spreaded here and there .A lot of people flock onto the western restaurants .Many child and teenagers feel proud of eating hot dogs and hamburgeroung peoples ,to show they are up with the fashion , even hold their weddings in some western restaurants .The popularity of western food in china shows that many Chinese people blindly worship the western culture .In fact , in America Kentucky food like fried chickens and McDonald’s food like hamburger are considered by the native Americans as junk

     food .All these junk food are known to have more or less to with the obesity ,cardiovascular disease and diabetes ect.. so what measure should we take when confronted with the invasion of the western food? As a Chinese, we should accept and develop our own food culture. The moon in foreign countries is no more round than that in our country. However, nowadays there are lots of people who feel proud of eating western food. What is worse, some of even deny Chinese food culture. They eat hot dogs or fried chicken, just to show the

    ir richness and nobleness, although these foods do not really agree with their own tastes .In fact, everything in the world has two sides, good side and bad side. So when we view the difference of food culture between china and the west, we should see both the good and bad side of each other.

     Firstly ,we should choose our diet according to our need .Chinese people like sitting together and eating the abundant dishes, but with the tempo of the modern society become faster and faster, it’s far from efficient to eat the whole

     tableful of Chinese food during the extra working time. We can not deny the

     fact that the bread does great contribution to the life of those people who are

     working around the clock. But also should not forget the fact that bread can not take the place of delicious food no matter how convenient it is. And eating too much fried chicken is probably the cause of obesity though it can show

     your richness.

     Secondly, Chinese people pursue deliciousness in cooking the food. During the process ,frying the food in hot oil or cook it in low temperature for a long

     time, often cause the loss of nutrients which is contained in the raw material.

     So in the area of cooking skills, we Chinese should learn from the west. But

     Chinese people regard food as the heaven and regard the taste as the most important, while the westerners emphasize nutrition but pay less attention to the

     taste. They eat fresh vegetable such as tomatoes, cucumbers. From the field cabbages and onions which may be picked right now. They do not cook these vegetables since they are afraid to damage the vitamins

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