Sunday, 9 November 2008

A Short History of Chinese Food

For many centuries in China rice was the basic food, eaten whole in the south and in the form of
flour in the north. But gradually Chinese food became more varied as different meats such as dog, duck, lamb, pork and venison were incorporated. As time went on, spices such as aniseed, ginger and peppers were increasingly used.
By the mid 19th century there were over 25,000 Chinese working on the American railroads. They ate exotic foods cooked by Chinese cooks such as cuttlefish, dried bamboo shoots and dried mushrooms. The locals were particularly intrigued by a dish made up of stewed vegetables and meat with fried noodles called Chow mein, (from the Mandarin Chinese “ch'ao mien”, meaning "fried noodles”).
Chinese food became popular with sophisticated Europeans and Americans in the 1920s because it was considered exotic. However it wasn't until after the Second World War that Asian cuisines began to interest the ordinary western consumer. In 1947 Jeno Paulucci made Chinese food, under the Chun King label, available in American supermarkets nationwide for the first time.
By the 1950s restaurants were springing up all over western Europe and America. However the typical menu bore little resemblance to the foods the Chinese themselves ate. Egg rolls, barbecued spare ribs and sweet-and-sour pork were some of the many dishes created to appeal to the western consumer’s palate.

1 comment:

Amanda Scroggs said...

Ed - I wish I had more time to read all your posts - so informative! I watched a Book Talk given by Bill Bryson. I thought of you. His latest book is "A Short History of Nearly Everything." It was really interesting to hear how he became a writer. Look up his bio and publication list if you get a chance.

Keep writing - Amanda