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Chinese Food: Behind the Scenes. Patrick Brunson Belinda Bube Danielle Gendron. Abstract.

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chinese food behind the scenes

Chinese Food: Behind the Scenes

Patrick Brunson

Belinda Bube

Danielle Gendron


Chinese food is well known around the world for it’s unique and appealing flavors along with its attractiveness to the eye. But how authentic isthe style of the foods here in the states? We as a group have found many significant differences between authentic Chinese food served in its native country, and Chinese food served in America. Finally, we will explore not only the influence, but also the moderate societal changes that motivated the evolution of Chinese cuisine.

four main differences
Four Main Differences
  • Every food used in cooking is fresh. Chinese people go to markets daily to pick out ingredients to achieve a chewier and better feeling that fresh food provides. America however does not always use fresh food, and will substitute alternative versions that have been altered by preservatives.
  • Another main difference is the use of seasonings. In America, it is hard to even find authentic Chinese seasonings, such as star anise and black rise, unless you are shopping at a specialty store.
differences continued
Differences Continued…
  • One of America’s most famous and popular ways of cooking--frying--is completely absent from authentic Chinese Cuisine. The act of frying the food not only takes away the health factors but also drowns the food in oil and “strips it of its individuality”. The most common ways of cooking a dish in China is to boil, steam, or stir-fry the food.
  • The last, and one of the most important differences is in the cooking tools. In China, the wok is very important. It must be made out of iron and round on all sides to ensure that the food is completely blanched as it is tossed and stirred.
four major styles
Four Major Styles
  • Cantonese
    • Most well-known/popular regional cuisine style
    • Cantonese chefs specialize in delicate sauces, roasted meats, as well as steamed & stir-fried dishes with vegetables that appeal to the eye & the palate
    • Steamed rice is a staple of Cantonese cuisine, and is the base of most meals
    • Every vegetable is sliced to best show off its color and shape, even in a stir-fry or sauce
four major styles6
Four Major Styles
  • Szechwan
    • Grown in popularity over the last few decades
    • Searingly spicy foods like Kung Pao Chicken and Double Cooked Spicy Pork
    • Distinct style of cooking that is native to the landlocked mountainous center of China
    • The pungent flavors of ginger, fermented soybean, onions and garlic characterize much Szechwan cuisine
    • Typical cooking methods in include frying, frying without oil, pickling and braising
four major styles7
Four Major Styles
  • Hunan
    • Most well known from the Zheijiang region of China
    • Characterized by thick, rich sauces and complex pungent flavors
    • Typical ingredients include scallions, chili and pepper
    • A popular favorite dish in the Hunan style is Pepper Chicken, with small chunks of succulent chicken quick-fried with black pepper and onions
four major styles8
Four Major Styles
  • Shangdong
    • Characterized by its emphasis on fresh ingrediants in combinations that emphasize the flavor, aroma, color and texture of each ingrediant
    • Known for delicate flavor combinations that are surprisingly pungent
    • Garlic and scallions are frequent ingredients, as are seafood, fresh vegetables and shoots
    • One of the most famous dishes from the Shangdong area, Birds Nest Soup, is typically served at major affairs of state
the naming of dishes
The Naming of Dishes
  • Many dishes were named for their appearance, while others included a play on words, which served as subtle references to the ingredients
    • A dish of shredded fish with orange might be called “powdered gold and minced jade”
    • Shrimp with green peas and scallions might bear the name “Coral, Pearl, and Jade”
chronology of chinese cuisine
Chronology of Chinese Cuisine


0.5 million years ago

Peking Man – fire for cooking

8000 BC

First rice grown

6000 BC

Domestication of pigs

1050-256 BC

Zhou Dynasty introduces chopsticks

200 BC

Ice used for refrigeration




Soy milk and tofu processing


Tea drinking spreads throughout China


Tang Dynasty introduces stir fry


Soy sauce becomes a common flavoring


Chinese food arrives in America


America fast food arrives in China-KFC

did you know
Did You Know?
  • There are roughly 43,000 Chinese restaurants in the United States, more than the number of McDonald's, Burger Kings and KFCs combined.
  • Broccoli is not a commonly used Chinese vegetable.
  • Fortune cookies originated in America.
  • Chinese cooking isn't a set of dishes. It's a philosophy that serves local tastes and ingredients.
  • As far back as 1942, chop suey and chow mein were added to the U.S. Army cookbook.
did you know continued
Did You Know Continued…
  • In 1961, before the Freedom Riders left for the first fateful bus ride through the Deep South to protest segregation, a number of that company got together for dinner at a Chinese restaurant in Washington.
  • In the 1980s, Peking Gourmet Inn, near Falls Church, Virginia, had to install a bulletproof glass window near table N17. That's where the Bushes, both father and son, sit to this day at their favorite Chinese restaurant.
  • More than a third of the world's population eats Chinese food daily
  • "Have you eaten already?" is a popular greeting among the Chinese.
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  • "History Timeline." Chaos at Maryland. University of Maryland. 10 Nov. 2008 <>.
  • Jack, Stephen. "Chinese Food History--Timeline." Eating china. 2008. 11 Nov. 2008 <>.
  • Luca, Peter. "Chinese Food, America Kitchen." The Genuine Article. Literally. 26 Feb. 2007. 11 Nov. 2008 <http://>.
  • "The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food (Hardcover)." Amazon. 3 Mar. 2008. 11 Nov. 2008 <http://>.
  • Zhou, Nicholas, ed. "All about Chinese Cuisine." Chinese Food DIY. 11 Nov. 2008 <>.