China has a large population and the richest and most varied natural landscapes in the world. Plateaus, forests, lakes and coastlines. These various geographical features and climate conditions have helped to form and preserve widely different species. No other country has so many potential food sources as China. By collecting, fetching, digging, hunting and fishing, people have acquired abundant gifts from nature. Traveling through the four seasons, we'll discover a story about nature and the people behind delicious Chinese foods.
The first kind of food is matsutake under the pine needles. It is a precious and edible fungus, only surviving in certain high-altitude mountain areas that are free of pollution. We can usually only find one matsutake per kilometer. Heavy rain is a gift from nature. Everyone works hard.
On the menu of traditional Chinese cuisine, there is another dainty food growing in mountains. The cubes of fresh winter bamboo shoots, after being cooked in deep fat with various spices,will be a widely popular dish in Jiangsu and Zhejiang Provinces. In China, many people rely on bamboo forests.The winter bamboo shoot hides in the earth, and is hard to find on the surface.Chinese chefs love it because it is single-grained, able to easily absorb the flavor of added garnishes. In particular, it can help attain a flavor balance when being cooked with greasy fatty meat.
Besides fresh food materials, some spices used to season delicacies also come from nature.In Nuodeng Mountain area in northern Dali, (Dali, Yunnan) The eye-catching red sandstones are the home to many natural salt wells. The salt is indispensable for making a delicacy in the mountain. The potassium in the salt is good for health. With a mild taste, the salt is perfect for making hams. The mold helps weigh a certain amount of salt. The precise weighing measure proves that salt used to be the most important commodity here. The good ham was salted years ago, and has been air-dried completely. Over the course of three years, the fat in the ham oxidized,and created a unique flavor. The ham will be cut into parts before cooking. Each part can be cooked differently.The wet and warm climate helps ferment the hams, it's a gift from nature.People today no longer take salt seriously. Advanced transportation and technology have made salt common and cheap. But Nuodeng salt is still a gift bestowed by nature.
Another gift from nature is the fish and the helpful environment.The fish head dish is a favorite specialty of Chinese people. High quality fish heads are more expensive than fresh fish. At such a low temperature, fish keep still. Traveling long distances within one day,the people who depend on the sea finally received generous gifts from nature once again. But pelagic fishing only runs months a year. There's no time to be lost. The fishermen have a unique way to celebrate the harvest: A rich feast of fish. The decocted mackerel can retain its original flavor after being cooked alone. Chizi fish tastes good after being braised with garlic. Shell fish has the fine quality of making soup with sour bamboo shoot. The dishes retain the original flavor of seafood. Only time can see how human beings will adapt to the changing ocean. When we enjoy delicacies, we should appreciate the people who make this happen through their hard work and wisdom. Nature tends to be generous and forthcoming with her rewards for man.
China has diverse natural conditions across its land. As a result, Chinese people living in different areas enjoy absolutely different but rich staple foods. From the south to the north, the diverse staple foods provide energy for human bodies. Moreover, they influence people's feelings towards the change of four seasons and enrich the lives of the Chinese.
Rich in mountains while lacking rivers, Shanxi is scarce in its vegetable varieties. Housewives cannot do much to enrich the non-staple food. So they figure out different ways of making flour food to increase the family's appetite. Flour is processed into various delicacies on the table. These diverse and delicate foods remind people of the women's nimble fingers and rich imagination. Today, minor cereals and wheat are the main ingredients on the table. Due to its drought-enduring nature, glutinous millet became the most important crop on the loess plateau. The yellow steamed buns are made with this main ingredient.
For thousands of years, Chinese people gain food and clothing from the five cereals. Heilongjiang Wheat was introduced into the Central Plains through the Hosi Corridor.This species originated from West Asia and has become the most important staple food for the Chinese. Naan is the most favorite staple food for Uyghur people. Five cereals in China have always been a changing concept. No matter how things have changed, the leading status of rice remains unchanged.
In Dimen,Rice noodles are the most important rice product in Liping, Guizhou. They can be seen everywhere on the local markets. People here love the noodles in soup the most. The most popular rice noodle product among the Cantonese can be this stir-fried rice noodles with beef. This dish is a test of a Cantonese chef's basic skills.
People in North China like eating flour products. The noodles in the south are made of rice.China was divided by the Qinling Mountains and Huaihe River in terms of the rural pattern:Rice in the south and wheat in the north. Therefore,people in the south love eating rice and those in the north can not live without wheaten food.
In Xi'an, a type of baked bun is the most widely accepted staple food. The marinated meat in baked bun is the most classic way to enjoy the buns.The buns Xi'an people eat are baked on fire. The meat is made with -plus seasonings and is stewed with gentle heat. So it tastes soft and glutinous. Today, Xi'an remains a heaven of staple foods for the Chinese. Paomo, another staple food in Xi'an, originated from the baked buns.
In Northwest China, chopped-up baked buns in lamb or beef broth is a perfect combination of staple food and soup. Another example can be the Lanzhou beef noodles.The best beef noodles should acquire the following five features: Clear soup, clean white turnips, brilliant red chili oil, green parsley and yellow noodles.
Noodles are the most popular staple food on birthdays for the Chinese. At the birthday banquet in Ding Village, a ritual requiring the participation of all people is ongoing. Before eating the noodles, all the people pick out the longest noodle in their bowl and put it into the bowl of the one who celebrates the birthday.
The methods to make the ingredients for the Qishan saozi noodles are very particular. Meat is chopped into thin and even dices and dry-fried until they turn transparent. Add vinegar and chili and fry the meat on slow fire. The good-quality ingredients for Qishan saozi noodles are red in color, sour and spicy in the taste. The bright color and spicy taste are the essence of Qishan saozi noodles. The trimmings for the noodles have five colors. Fungus and tofu mean black and white. Eggs represent wealth. Red carrot symbolizes a prosperous life. Garlic sprouts mean vitality. The five colors, red, yellow, green,white and black represent Qishan people's best wishes for life.
Jiaxing natives start their day with a hot meat zongzi,a traditional Chinese food, made of glutinous rice with different stuffing.Every year in early lunar May, people memorize the poet Qu Yuan on the Dragon Boat Festival. Families in South China dip glutinous rice, wash bamboo leaves and make zongzi. Rice cake is a traditional food that Ningbo people make to celebrate the Spring Festival. Ningbo rice cake is made with the fresh late rice. Dipping, grinding, steaming and pounding, the molecules of rice get restructured and the taste gets improved. After pounding the rice flour dough, people need to knead it. A most ordinary strip rice cake is made.
If you always eat something in your childhood, the taste of it would stay with you. You'll never easily forget it.Place stuffing into a ready flour skin and wrap it into the shape of a crescent, a simple but special jiaozi is made. Jiaozi means the end and beginning of time. No matter how the past year is like, eating jiaozi is a must at the year-end Spring Festival.It symbolizes family reunion. When a lot of food have been put onto the production lines for manufacturing, the Chinese people, who treasure the concept of family the most in the world, repeat the same things every year at their homes.In the mind of the Chinese, nothing is more important than being together with their family. This is all their hope. This is how the Chinese people are like. This is the tradition of the Chinese. This is the story about staple food for the Chinese.
Taste is of highest importance, and the Chinese have never limited their diet to tedious monotony. Expertise in the ways of food constantly gives rise to methods of transforming taste, and tofu invites such change. In Jianshui, a small city of Yunnan province, "burnt" tofu is a traditional kind of tofu ball. Small pieces of new tofu are shaped by being wrapped in gauze and squeezed dry. This must be done quickly to keep the fresh tofu from going sour. The balls are aired and sunned in split-bamboo baskets for some days until the pieces are hard and shriveled and the skin turns black. Cooking is done over a basin of charcoal fire. The balls puff up in the heat, and their flavor is somewhat similar that of fermented flour. This is a regional favorite, enjoyed with varied sauces.
This episode focuses on the different preservation techniques and preserved food across the regions.Time is a friend of food, and also its enemy. New technologies can help preserve food, while traditional preservative techniques may create different and even tenderer flavours through salting, air-drying, stewing or smoking procedures. Today, the renovated traditional foods still influence the Chinese diet and preserve the unique feeling of the Chinese towards flavour and the world.
Today, it seems a mission impossible to count up the number of varieties of Chinese food, or to divide the dishes into groups geographically, without raising any objections. Besides food itself, there is something more important: The control of heat, seasonings and knives. Too many secrets are there to be discovered in Chinese kitchens.
Secret of the kitchen This hut is where the Tashis dry their hand-made potteries, and also, the salted meat which is called Pipa (a Chinese traditional string instrument) Pork by the Tibetans. They have been hung here for more than half a year. Fresh food is precious to the Tashis, so they process most of their food in such a way, to preserve them as long as possible. Tashi is a potter specialized in making black potteries. Some of the black potteries he made will be bought by the travelers, but it does not mean that they are handicraft. Instead, the black potteries here are the secret of the kitchens.
Lying between the water and the fire, it passes the heat to the food, helping to release natural flavors. The secret in the kitchens in Nixi lies exactly under this boiling broth. It was the "surprising" discovery thousands of years ago, and now, one of the most commonly used cooking methods in our daily life. In China, food is usually connected with gratefulness. It is the reward to the laborers. "Steaming" is one of the basic cooking skills in China. In history, the word "steam" has the same meaning with "sacrifice". The sacrificial offerings have to be presented to the god intact. The fluidity of steam enables the heat to be passed evenly, and makes it possible to cook a pig as a whole.
The Chinese first introduced the method of "steaming" into kitchen, and invented a variety of steamed dishes. People here in Jun'an Town, Shunde are celebrating the Double Ninth Festival. The young are marching, carrying a statue of Guangong, while the old wear cornel on their heads. It is even more exciting than the Spring Festival.
As an important trading centre in Asia, Hong Kong introduces delicacies from all over the world to Chinese, and at the same time, introduces Chinese cuisine to the world. The earth offers everything it has to humans, and humans share their common enthusiasm toward delicacies. Therefore, the secret in the kitchen is NOTHING!
No matter whether in the realm of cuisine or linguistics, the word "taste" encapsulates infinite possibilities. Besides gustatory and olfactory experiences, it can also refer to feelings incited by things way beyond food. For the Chinese, taste is a matter of not only the tongue and nose, but the heart. The Equilibrium of Tastes As in the rest of the world, the Chinese use sweetness to express the feeling of joy and happiness. The taste buds can pick up sweetness before all other gustatory feelings.
Sugar is the most common source of sweetness. To Yao Jinghong, sugar means a lot. In the early morning he starts a big fire to melt sugar. Sweet onion pancakes is a famous traditional dessert in Chaozhou.Sugar is the source of sweetness in desserts in many regions of China. Some km away from Dahao, Wuxi thrives with industry and commerce. Its residents enjoy a prosperous life. Although Wuxi doesn't produce sugar cane, Locals see Pork Ribs in Soy Sauce a representative of the Wuxi cuisine, not only for the meticulous choice of materials and cooking methods, but also for its sweetish taste.
MSG has been widely used, the Chinese have different views towards it. In south China, people prefer the flavor of natural ingredients. After the harvest season, Li is going to spend his leisure time fishing, drinking tea, and of course, eating roasted laver. For Chinese, good taste originally refers to the taste of raw fish. For modern people who are accustomed to cooked food, it takes some wisdom to preserve the freshness and original flavor of foods. This is exactly what the Cantonese are good at.
We love cooking. It makes life wonderful. Please stay tuned to explore the world of gastronomy. To enjoy authentic and healthy cooking, and to live a simple and unadorned life is the theme of Zhuang's program, and also the reflection of his life. The diverse culinary flavors of the Chinese kitchen not only please the palate, but also allow the Chinese to express their diverse feelings towards the ups and downs of life. They prefer the orchestra of tastes to the solo of any of them. The equilibrium of tastes is what the Chinese chefs pursue. Moreover, such cooking philosophy has extended to other realms of the Chinese life and even their notion of running the country.
Chinese people say one has to make use of the local resources available. This is not only an example of people adapting to their local conditions, it is also a natural way of living according to Chinese characteristics. They take great advantage of every inch of ground they stand on. And their ability to seek out food is instinctual. From the fertile and rich plain to the plentiful rivers and lakes, from the cold and desolate plateau to the urban landscape dominated by high rises; where there is green there is a harmony between the sky aboveand the people below. But in order to gain and harvest food from the vast ocean, people must possess a completely different set of extraordinary skills. Every day, when night falls, Different kinds of diners hang around in thousands of restaurants across Beijing In these restaurants, all manner of food is gathered from across the nation and from abroad. In various regions, Chinese people use their own wisdom to get the most out of nature. This wisdom is a product of respect towards the heavens and a sentimental attachment to the earth. A writer describes the simple life view of Chinese people in the following words: No matter whether they plough with their heads down or whether they bow their heads to eat, they never forget to raise their heads to the sky.
In China the habit of having breakfast dates back to the Han Dynasty, 2000 odd years ago. Since then the majority of Chinese people have had three meals a day, which is beneficial to living and productivity. Although having three meals a day has become a common diet pattern almost worldwide, in China the pattern highlights various life experiences lived at different paces.
In the old city of Beijing, within a short distance you can taste of authentic Turkish food, genuine Spanish seafood paella, or prime French cuisine. People come across food from around the globe, and their taste has assimilated with that of the whole world. However, there always exists food that has not been discovered, hiding in the hills and valleys, rivers and seas, deserts and grasslands in China. These are the realms of secrets that we want to explore.
Most great food is a spectacle of fusion resulting from the collision and combination of different ingredients. If compared with human relationship, some would be regarded as amazingly perfect matches. Some meet by chance but touch us deeply. Some can only make us regret not letting them meet sooner. Human activity leads to the gathering of food. The separation and reunion of food, on the other hand, also controls people. What Westerners called "destiny" is named "Yuán fèn" (緣) in China.
Home, where life begins, is also one's ultimate safe harbor. Under the same roof family cooks together and eats together. Food unites and offers the chance to consult family members. Though pots and pans are common domestic items, they are symbols of the Chinese way of life and are associated with the culture of Chinese ethics. People grow up, fall in love, live apart, and reunite. In some sense, enjoyment of home cooking is also an experience of the various tastes of life itself.
China is a country with striking variety of geography and climate. People work from day to night in spring planting, autumn harvesting, summer cultivating, and winter storing. A demanding schedule is set in the cycle of seasons and has remained the same over thousand years. Compared to the agrarian age, people have gradually estranged themselves from the nature. Nevertheless, traditional foods and cooking for oneself and family is the Chinese way. This is the story of time and is the secret of how the Chinese work in harmony with nature.
"A thousand pairs of hands, a thousand flavors." Chinese cuisine is mystic and hard to duplicate. From the countryside to downtown, cuisine is still inherited from person to person. The wisdom of ancestors is blended together with family secrets, expert tips, and the understanding of gourmet cooking. Every moment of brilliant appearance, texture, and taste is created with care, one generation to the next.
Life always pushes us to strive forward whether we are willing or not. Once prepared to depart, people set off to trudge long distances. Where they settle, there is a cooking fire. From the migration of individuals to the transportation of food ingredients, from the evolution of cooking methods to the alternation of human destiny, the travel of human beings and human food never ceases.
Some of those English translation is based on China Daily so may not be accurate.
A Bite of China attracted high ratings during its nightly airing on CCTV-1, drawing an estimated 100 million viewers. It also has an overall approval rating of 91% on Douban. Oliver Thring of The Guardian praised it as "the best TV show I've ever seen about food. I'd hazard it's the best one ever made."
The background Chinese painting appeared in the documentary's poster is "Ridge cloud with rain" (岭云带雨)by Xu Qinsong (许钦松). At first, The poster designer used the painting without permission of Mr. Xu, However, this copyright issue was later solved by reconciliation between the artist and the documentary producer. Malaysia-8TV (Malaysia)