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Taste of China, (A Virtual)

by Gary Allen


Fall Volume: 2009 Issue: 16(3) page(s): 36 and 37

In previous issues of Flavor & Fortune, we have listed places on the web where good information about Chinese food could be found. The rate of change in cyberspace makes it necessary to revisit frequently, and that is just what this article is doing. Selecting among these new sites can be a tricky proposition, for two reasons. First, a lot of truly trivial, if not spurious information is on the internet. That much is apparent to anyone who spent time trying to learn something online. Less obvious, though it should not be, if we think about it, is the fact that we (meaning the writer and many of Flavor & Fortune readers) do not read Chinese. There may be many wonderful sites dealing with Chinese food that we will never find, simply because we are limited to English. Nonetheless, here is a collection of Chinese food sites worth looking at.

The first group below is about the food itself (the ingredients, recipes, and ordering food in Chinese:

Breakfast in China:
Descriptions and photos of Chinese breakfast foods, many as street food

Chinese Tea>
Chinese tea is a beverage, a pass time, a culture; tutorials and links

Chinese Herb Database:
The term 'herb' is used loosely -- it could refer to ingredients like dried snakes; lists can be sorted by Latin or English names

Chinese food - recipes
Cooking methods, the Chinese kitchen, ingredients, articles and recipes
By main ingredient or region, plus glossaries and a brief guide to restaurant Chinese

Information about soy and soya products: history, nutrition and recipes

Recipes, cooking methods, ingredients.

Gastronomy has been defined as 'talking about talking about food' which is what is done below. Food, everywhere, is inseparable from culture – and nowhere more so than in China. The second or following sites are less about food and more about the place of food in Chinese culture; many dealing with historical issues.

Asian-American Cuisine:
History of many famous 'Asian' dishes -- some authentically Chinese, some not

Chinese Food: Two Texts
http://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/core9/phalsall/texts/cfood.html Excerpts from a sixteenth-century Spaniard's description of Chinese eating habits and from Cao Xueqin’s novel, The Dream of the Red Chamber

Chinese-Japanese Cook Book;
Sara Bosse’s and Onoto Watanna's 1914 book, introducing Asian cookery into American home kitchens

Find the Date of Chinese Festivals:
Calculator bridges Chinese lunar calendar with western solar calendar

Food Timeline: Asian-American Cuisine
Links, bibliography and good articles on some Asian favorites

Have You Eaten Yet?
A Short History of Chinese Restaurants presented by Cynthia Lee to the American Historical Association

History of Chinese Imperial Food
Three thousand years of culinary tradition

History of San Francisco's Chinatown
Timeline, with links to significant details

Jennifer 8. Lee: Who was General Tso? and other mysteries of American Chinese food
Amusing and informative talk about the place of Chinese food in America, and how it got that way

Nation's First Feng Shui Inspired McDonald's Restaurant Opens its Doors in Hacienda Heights
Where is the best place to put the golden arches?

Premodern Chinese Food: Chinese Culinary History before the Republic of China
Traces origins of Chinese foods to period before Imperial cuisine began, and examines regional differences

Reading History in Chinese Menus
Chinese menus provide wealth of cultural insight into the history of Chinese restaurants in America at the Museum of Chinese in the America’s new exhibit: Have You Eaten Yet? The Chinese Restaurant in America; the exhibit is gone, but the article remains

Solving a Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery Inside a Cookie
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/16/dining/16fort.html? ex=1201150800&en=cc7bac134490561c&ei=5070&emc=eta1
Jennifer 8. Lee's article, in The New York Times, about the origin of fortune cookies

World's Oldest Noodles Alter View of Ancient Diet
http://www.livescience.com/history/051012_neolithic_noodles.html Account of the discovery of 4,000-year-old leftover Chinese food

Finally this set, as the internet continues to become, for better or worse, a much more democratic place. While writers once had their words filtered through layers of editing and publishing, and even the requirements of typesetters, the web now allows writers to reach their readers directly. Web logs, or “blogs,” are online diaries or journals that are open to anyone to read. What’s more, readers are encouraged to respond in a free-spirited exchange of ideas. Of course, having no editor means no fact-checking (other than corrections provided by readers), so blogs should be read with a skeptical eye. That caveat notwithstanding, what blogs may lack in accuracy, they more than make up in enthusiasm, freshness and timeliness:

Appetite for China

Cha Dao

Chopstick Cinema

Eating Asia

Red Cook: Adventures from a Chinese Home Kitchen
Gary Allen lives in Kingston, NY and would love to hear other sites you know about. Contact him at gallen@hvi.net; and do visit his website at: http://onthetable.us

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