From Beijing’s mouth-watering Peking duck to Shanghai’s French influences, the dynasty of Chinese food has proved both powerful and far reaching across the globe.
It is difficult not to feel the force of China’s immense history when stepping onto Tiananmen Square, or when atop the Great Wall; it is a history that infuses itself into everything, including the country’s cuisine. Nowhere is this truer than the quietly majestic Forbidden City: the historic site where thousands of Chinese cooks once boasted their culinary dishes to the imperial family. In their efforts to impress, the cooks often turned to exotic ingredients such as shark’s fin and bear’s paw, and these pioneering culinary ingredients and abilities were carried down through history to help shape Beijing cuisine today.
Home to the incredible Terracotta Warriors, Xian’s fascinating history has helped to shape the city into a distinctive, Muslim-influenced food destination. Take a night-time stroll down Da Maishijie (Humin Flavour) Snack Street, bustling day and night, and taste scrumptious mutton soup with cake. Dumplings are also commonly found in Xian: try them for yourself, and learn about the humble dumpling’s link to luck in the Hui culture.
Shanghai may have had a tremulous past of submission and strict Communist rule, but today the city stands as one of the globe’s most modern, exciting cities, with a cuisine to match. The former ‘Paris of the East’ makes her mark on China’s vast culinary tapestry with unique alcohol-infused dishes. Crab, chicken and fish are “drunken with spirits” and quickly cooked, or even served raw with salted meats.
With mouth-watering dishes that move far-and-beyond what the Western world offer as ‘Chinese food’, China offers gastronomic possibilities as vast as the land itself.