Understanding Traditional Chinese Food

bacon fried rice

Hey guys!

Last time I was here I showed you some photos of beautiful Chengde. Well, I haven’t been doing much traveling lately and the ‘Landscape and Scenery’ category in my archives has grown very little. The category ‘Food and Beverages’ on the other hand, has demonstrated the most impressive growth rate lately.

You see, recently I have had the privilege of working on a very delicious project called FOODragon which is an app for Chinese food. A big part of this project was to take photos of Chinese dishes, beverages, restaurants and even Chinese characters.

Food photos are a celebration of shape and color and though it’s true for food anywhere, it’s especially true for the Chinese cuisine. Luckily, you can find dishes from all around China without setting a foot out of Beijing, otherwise this project would have been much more expensive.

Here are some of the photos I took for this project.

The first one is a dish called 平锅茄子 (flat pan eggplants). I really didn’t like eggplants before I came to China but the way they cook them here has really turned it around for me, and now I even enjoy eggplants back home. The best advice I can give to people who have just arrived here is to try the things you usually don’t like, because Chinese cooking is all about change and transformation.

The second photo is a very close look of fried rice with smoked meat (similar to bacon). Many people don’t know it, but China, and Sichuan Province in particular, has a long tradition of meat smoking. It is the perfect dish for those of you who want to try something Chinese which also tastes a little bit like home.

Unlike common believes (and what that bald kid from The Matrix says) there actually are spoons, and they are an integral part of the Chinese dining set.

Winter is coming and it’s about to get really cold in Beijing. A good way to fight that cold when you are outside is the 麻辣烫 stands found in many street corners. Like many other Chinese delicacies this spicy treat is also from Sichuan, but can now be found almost anywhere in China.

Shanxi and Shaanxi are not only two neighboring provinces which sound almost the same. They are also partners in the crime of creating this deadly delicious dish. It is the combination of Shanxi famous knife cut noodles (刀削面) and the less famous Shaanxi oil splash (油泼) technique.

Let me sign off with a photo of a single Chinese character. If you have taken beginners’ Chinese you should be able to recognize it, though in this case the font is somewhat misleading. Do you know which one it is?

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About the Author

Ran Etya is a long term Laowai in Beijing. He studied Chinese in Qinghua University and photography in Israel.