The Chinese culture is the oldest continuous civilization in the world and throughout the ages, plenty as well as famine have helped to shape the character of one important aspect of the Chinese culture – the Chinese food recipes, Chinese cuisine. During prosperous years, there was always an upper class who had enough time and money to devote to the sampling of delights turned out by their culinary staff. These were the legendary multi-course banquets and feasts.
On the other hand, many times through China’s history, floods, drought and other natural disasters have destroyed the crops and laid the country to a waste. Adversity and necessity forced the people to seek and use new sources of food. Today, the Chinese are experts in the preparation of such exotic items as eels, frogs and snakes, besides making use of every edible part of animal and plant. When well-cleaned, correctly prepared and cooked with the right seasonings, tongue, brains, roots and even flowers taste delicious!
A popular Chinese method of cooking – stir-frying – could well have been the result of efforts to cook with the minimum of fuel in times of chronic fuel scarcity. Food, cut into small pieces or slices, is quickly stirred in a little hot oil over a few minutes of intense heat. Food cooked in this manner has its natural juices sealed in while the color, texture and flavor are preserved. It is also highly nutritious.
Dairy products are practically unknown in Chinese cooking since cattle were more profitably utilized as draft animals in earlier times. So the main sources of meat were pigs and poultry which were easily fed on swill and leftovers. They also occupied less space so that the majority of the land-area could be devoted to growing cereals; these certainly could feed more people than any number of cattle raised on the same area!