Chinese Food in Gainesville Chinese Food in Gainesville

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  • It is a courteous and usual way of greeting to ask whether the other has eaten when two Chinese meet. Chinese people consider food as their central part of life. They prepare special food not only for particular occasions, such as wedding and festivals, but also for health, such as dishes made with herbs and tea.

    A wide variety of Chinese food may be one of the reason that people from all walks of life are attracted. Chinese people of different regions prefer different ingredients and have their unique preparing techniques. For example, soup noodles are typical food in the northern part of China, and dim sum is a very special kind of Cantonese food. Northern cuisine has mutton dishes, unheard of in the south. Northern cooks are also more heavy-handed with garlic and bean paste, while cooks in Szechuan and Hunan on the northwestern part rely on chillies. Northerners eat mantou, a wheat-flour bread as a staple, while rice is more usual in the south.

    Anyone who loves Chinese food definitely agrees that Chinese ways of cooking are incredible. A little can go a long way when there are several kinds of ingredients cut small, tossed into a hot wok with a little oil and stir-fried with fragrant garlic and soya sauce. Cutting food into bite-size pieces makes for rapid cooking and enables seasonings to penetrate into the food. Bite-sized pieces also are easier to eat when people are manipulating two thin pieces of wood to pick up their food, and they simplify sharing in the communal style of eating.

    Another characteristics of Chinese dishes is the combination of several vegetables with meat or seafood, making for naturally colorful food. They are common food served in most Chinese restaurants, such as different kinds of Lo Mein, Chow Mein and Chop Suey.

    The food of almost all regions of China can be found in Gainesville. The majority of Chinese restaurants offer food from different provinces. They include spicy Szechuan and Hunanese food, famous Peking duck or the stuff of imperial kitchens, southern cuisine like fried rice and rice noodles, as well as Cantonese dim sum and braised food cooked in claypots.

    An old Chinese saying indicates how highly the cuisine of the Guangzhou (Canton) area is regarded:

    "To be born in Suzhou
    to live in Hangzhou
    to eat in Guangzhou
    and to die in Liuzhou"

    Cantonese cuisine is known for its fresh, delicate flavors. Freshly bought ingredients are prepared the same day and cooked just before serving, using little oil or spicy seasonings. Dim sum, which means "light snack," is a branch of Cantonese cuisine which dates from the 10th century. It also has a the literal meaning of "touching the heart," the way to someone's heart through their stomach.

    Tea, one of the most popular health-related food in Chinese society, is offered in all restaurants. Although it may appear that the Chinese live only to eat, they also eat with health in mind. Long before the link between food and health became fashionable, the Chinese were developing a complex philosophy on dietetics. Certain foods were "cooling" or yin, others "heaty" or yang and some were neutral.

    Balancing the yin and yang in your body by eating the correct foods kept you in good health. Vegetarian food is also popular in China. Chinese cuisine reminds us to eat anything in moderation and to eat a wide range to get the right balance.

    Guide to
    Gainesville's Chinese Restaurants
    Special Chinese Cuisines
    Related Links to Guides and Recipes

    Graphics credited to Asia-Ads
    Prepared by Shirley Yam
    Last updated in April 1997

    Shirley Yam