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Food cultures of north and south China

By Shao Cheng (People's Daily Overseas Edition)

14:53, May 07, 2012

Edited and translated by People's Daily Online

China is an extremely vast land, and it is not hard to imagine that different places of China have different food cultures.

In Guangdong province, Hong Kong and Macao, people drink soup before having dinner. Their soups vary in different seasons, and functions of the soups are various, such as the lung-moistening soup, moisture-dispelling soup, warmth-complementing soup and blood pressure reducing soup. From the phrase "boiling soup," many phrases have been generated, such as boiling porridge and boiling phone (talking on the phone for a long period).

In north China, people drink soup after having dinner, calling it "filling gaps of food." The soup fills gaps of food in the stomach so that people feel full and can endure the cold weather. They believe that drinking soup before dinner will make the soup occupy the space for food, dilute the gastric juice and is bad for digestion. They say that people of the Guangdong Province are usually skinny because they drink soup before dinner.

In Hong Kong, people eat a lot of fishes. They eat dried and fresh fish all year round, and they also eat a lot of chicken, ducks, geese, sirloins and pig bones. In north China, people mainly eat beef and mutton. In the past, Mongolian people did not eat chicken, duck and goose and even did not touch pork.

Guangdong province plants sugar cane widely. Therefore, every family of local residents of the Luohu District uses sugar to make the fried rice cake on the Spring Festival, and they also prepare a large-bowl dish for guests. In Hong Kong and Macao, people also make a large-bowl dish on the Spring Festival. In the bowl, the abalone, sea cucumber, chicken, duck and fish are cooked together.

In north China, people make streamed bread, streamed rick cake, streamed bean buns, and dumplings on the Spring Festival. They put them in the courtyard to freeze them and keep them fresh so that they can pick and eat them whenever they want in the first month of the Chinese lunar year. In this way, the housewife can be free from the kitchen for quite a while.

Southerners love rice. They grind rice into rice flour and make rice balls and rice noodles out of it. But northerners of China say that they would rather eat wheat flour than rice and they would rather stay in a hotel than in the family of a relative.

Different landscapes and weathers have fostered different food cultures. Different food cultures all have their interesting parts. Different people sitting beside a same dinner table could talk a lot about it.

Read the Chinese version at


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