Last modified 15.3.2011 at 13:24
Chinese cuisine is full of flavours and old habits
Text and photos: Anni Jyrinki
We all know that rice and noodles are from China, but would you like to have some other Chinese delicacies, a bit of cat or snake maybe?
Zhang Xin came to Oulu last autumn. He studies International Business in Oulu UAS. Although he has lived here for months, this is the first time he is having a dinner at a Chinese restaurant.
– This looks very cosy! Decoration is just like back home, Xin estimates Beijing’s atmosphere.
Also food in Beijing is familiar to Xin. He is from the northern part of China. His hometown is situated near capital; also Beijing.
– In the northern part of our country food is not so spicy. In the south they use much more chilli. In the west of China food is sort of sweet and in the east it is salty, Xin explains some basic information about Chinese cuisines.
For all parts the connecting point is frying. Almost all Chinese food is fried in vegetable oil.
Chopsticks – the only way to dine
It’s time to order. Xin recommends some spring rolls for an appetizer.
– Spring rolls are so Chinese! We usually eat them as "fast food" like you eat hamburgers.
Spring rolls are served with sweet chilli sauce and mandarins – from a tin.– We eat these without any accompaniments. And we never use tinned fruit, Xin tastes food with some doubts.
But Spring rolls are just like they are supposed to be: crispy outside and juicy inside. For the main course Xin orders beef with oyster sauce on a hot iron pan. With that we get a huge amount of rice, but no chopsticks. Xin refuse to eat with a fork and asks the waiter to bring more traditional instruments.– First get some rice on your plate, then take a piece of beef with chopsticks and dip it in to rice before eating, Xin advises beginners.
Xin praises our dinner with a smile. He says that beef is cooked in a very traditional way and all vegetables are correctly fried. Chinese people drink beer or wine with their dinner.– Someone has to get drunk! That’s how the cook knows that dinner is successful and food is tasty!
But Xin thinks it was all right to order only water and this time we decide not to take any dessert.– In China we have a dessert with our dinner, too. But it is normally only fruit, not ice-cream like they seem to offer here, Xin says while browsing Beijing’s menu.
Traditions sit tight
Restaurant Beijing offers food from northern China. Other famous cuisines are called Cantonese Kitchen (south), Sichuan Kitchen (west), Shanghai Kitchen (east) and Tibetan Kitchen.– In Canton, or Guangzhou, they eat so strange dishes! Xin twiddles his head.
Xin would never eat cats, snakes, frogs or insects. But in southern China they all are highly valued delicacies.– It’s said that in Canton they eat anything that moves. It’s ugly! Many young people refuse to keep these traditions. Hamburgers and pizzas are more favoured than cats, thank God!
Some traditions are still powerful. Xin tells that every Chinese family gathers together on Sundays for a family dinner. Every Sunday Xin eats with his parents, grandparents and uncle’s family.– We sit around a round table. The most important man sits always faced towards the door. That is my grandfather. My granny sits on his left.
Dining takes time. Chinese eat slowly and concentrate on what they’re doing.– Maybe that is why we use chopsticks. You can’t eat fast with them, Xin points out.
Good manners are important. Xin sometimes talks too loud while eating and his mother has to warn him many times during family dinners.– Other important rule is that you must never leave chopsticks sticking up in rice, because it means that you are angry with someone at the table. Also it’s rude to point someone with index finger. It tells that you want to argue about something.Keywords: foodYou can find specific information and how to apply from the Studies and Applying section of Oulu UAS website.
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