Chinese Food and Health
China is one of the oldest civilizations in the world. There are certain elements that form a “civilization” and those are Stable food supply, Social structure, System of government, Religious system, Highly developed culture, technology, written language. The Chinese practice of seasonal agriculture has been the basis for the development of all the other aspects of human intellect we know as the “Chinese Civilization”.
China’s vast land has climates that go from the Arctic to the Tropical Rain Forest, and from mountains, valleys, plains, wetlands, to the coastline. The Chinese cooking techniques were developed over thousands of years through trial and error, to cook and to preserve the diversity of these food products to ensure sustainability throughout the seasons; provided not only nourishment for survival, but complex combinations combining sweet, sour, bitter, hot, and salty flavors fit for an emperor, which we still enjoy today.
From all these regions there are four main cuisines: Cantonese, Haiyang, Shandong, and Sichuan. Naturally, they reflect strongly the local terrain, the people, and the staple crops that grow in each region.
Did you know that “cooking” was one of the first technologies primitive man developed?
[Well, this reminds me of Prometheus, who gave mankind “Fire” and taught man the arts and sciences for survival.]
Chinese Cooking Methods
Chinese Food and Health
Balance is an essential part of Chinese food, known as “Yin” and “Yang”. A good Chinese diet balances yin (wet and moist) and yang (dry and crisp) ingredients. Yin foods cool the body down, while Yang foods (meat, spicy dishes, wine, coffee) heat it up. Most protein foods are seen as yang, while carbohydrates [including vegetables] are yin.
In order to achieve equilibrium, meals should involve a variety of dishes. A Chinese chef will even pay attention to the balance of colors in the meal. For example, diced meat should be accompanied by vegetables with a contrasting color, such as bell peppers or scallions. There are five elements in food that also correspond to five of our organs, such as: lungs, kidney, heart, liver, and spleen.
In Chinese medicine, food is prescribed as medical treatment, for example, chilies to promote digestion and dispel colds, or garlic to counteract toxins. This is to allow energy, or chi, to circulate smoothly through the body.
For instance, having a cold is associated with an excess of yin, and can be alleviated by restoring the yang of the body.
Books that you might like to read, and keep handy at all times.
Food Utensils for Chinese Cooking