Diet and Cuisines

Rice, the staple food in southern China, gave rise to a diet different from that in northern China. Due to the geographic features and distinct local customs along the Yangtze River, eating habits can vary. For instance, in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River, yak butter teas and Tsamba as well as beef are needed to resist the cold temperature on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, while the food in the Sichuan Basin is characterized by a spicy flavor.

The Chinese Eight Regional Cuisines well represent the abundant types and rich tastes of Chinese food. They are Shandong Cuisine, Guangdong Cuisine, Sichuan Cuisine, Hunan Cuisine, Fujian Cuisine, Jiangsu Cuisine, Zhejiang Cuisine and Anhui Cuisine, each of which specializes in a local feature. Following are several cuisines found most along the Yangtze River region.

Sichuan Cuisine (Chuan Cai)
Centralized both in Chengdu City and Chongqing Municipality, Sichuan Cuisine originated from the ancient Ba and Shu Kingdoms. Through centuries of evolvement, Sichuan Cuisine has been gaining popularity both home and abroad by its distinct spicy flavor. A very humid climate in the Sichuan Basin brought a diet specializing in a strong spicy taste. Chili and hot peppers are widely added to various dishes. A large variety of condiments brewed by skilled chefs enriches each dish with a distinct aromatic and piquant flavor.

Hunan Cuisine (Xiang Cai)
Hunan Cuisine took its form in the middle reaches of the Yangtze River: 'a land flowing with milk and honey'. Hunan Cuisine is famous for its sour and spicy flavor as well as its tenderness. However, Hunan Cuisine finds three flavors in different regions. In the region of the Xiang River, the cooks are striving for the harmony of sight, smell, taste and textures, which is the mainstream of the Hunan Cuisine; dishes in the region of Dongting Lake are focused on fish and water birds, while in the mountain area of the west, delicacies from the land as well as wild birds and animals are the main ingredients.

Anhui Cuisine (Hui Cai)
Anhui Cuisine dishes put emphasis on presentation and the cooking time, which is notable for keeping the natural flavor of each dish. Huangshan Mountain, located in Anhui Province, provides rich pickings for main ingredients that are rich in nutrients. Thus seafood and delicacies of the land, such as various funguses, greatly enhance the healthy function of Anhui Dishes.

Jiangsu Cuisine (Su Cai)
Jiangsu Province is in the lower reach of the Yangtze River by the East China Sea. Jiangsu Cuisine, also known as Huaiyang dishes, distinguishes itself from others by its tenderness and freshness, as well as refined carving techniques. Cooking methods are various, including braising, stewing, simmering, baking and stir-frying. Soup making is another highlight of Jiangsu Cuisine.

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