How Western Tastes Changed Chinese Food
There are over 1 million restaurant locations in the US. Many of these restaurants scattered throughout the country offer Chinese cuisine. However, very few of them offer authentic experiences with traditionally honest Chinese food.
Before you start looking up “Chinese near me that delivers,” keep reading. Below is an article talking about Chinese food and how far it is from 'traditional' today. If you want to find authentic representations of Chinese food, we’ve also included that in our guide.
Chinese Cuisine and How It Started in the US
The Chinese culture is old and varied, giving its traditional foods a long and unique history. Yet, when an average person hears the word Chinese food today, they’ll think of some specific things. Often, these things include the staples in Chinese cuisine, like:
- Chili oil
- Soy sauce
However, Chinese food is so much more than just ingredients alone. To truly understand Chinese food, you need to first look understand history, eastern geography, and Chinese culture. With an almost 9.6-million kilometer-square area, China is almost as wide as the US. This means the United States is only 2% larger than China.
Despite the size of the Asian country, there is a general nationwide understanding of its cuisine.
Throughout China, the Chinese praise and regard Four Great Traditions. These are Chuan, Lu, Yue, and Huaiyang, each representing the cuisines of all regions in China. Today, its people regard the modern Eight Cuisines of China.
As the Chinese began immigrating to other parts of the world, they also had to adjust their cooking. They won’t always find all the ingredients in Chinese food available in their new homes.
The new culture they find themselves in also influences their cooking. For example, those with Chinese ancestry in the US made dishes based on Cantonese cuisine. Chop suey is one such dish that has become famous among Western food culture and media.
Chinese Cuisine in the West
The history of Chinese food in the US begins during the California Gold Rush. The first Chinese immigrants came to the US, working as miners and railroad workers. California welcomed thousands of Chinese immigrants that hailed from the Chinese Canton region.
As more arrived, the government created laws to keep them from owning land. Thus, they lived together in small tight-knit communities, which would later be named “Chinatown.” As years passed, Chinese immigrants began opening restaurants and other small entrepreneurial businesses.
Often, their patrons were other Chinese immigrants, as well. Thus, they served food their customers wanted, which were also often Chinese dishes. By 1850, there were five Chinese restaurants in San Francisco alone.
This started the development of American-Chinese cuisine. The small restaurant owners improvised cooking based on the available ingredients. They experimented with their cooking methods based on what their customers sought.
As the decades passed, these restaurants began catering to Westerners, as well. Little by little, authentic Chinese food changed to suit western tastes. Cooks modified recipes to fit the local demand.
What Makes Classical Chinese Food Different From Western Food?
Different regions and cultures divide Chinese and Western-style cooking. Traditional Chinese cuisines emphasized the vegetables in their dishes. You can observe this in the frequent use of leaf vegetables like bok choy and gai-lan.
Meanwhile, Americans treated vegetables as a side dish or garnish. In modern western Chinese food, you’ll find that vegetables get treated the same way. The proportion of vegetables is much smaller than the meat or noodles.
Notice that most iconic Chinese dishes in the west follow certain cooking techniques. Braising, stewing, baking, and fermentation didn't make it to mainstream western Chinese cooking. The traditional Chinese cooking techniques that remained in western Chinese cuisine include:
- Deep frying
Food preparation also differs in the Chinese kitchen and Western-style kitchen. For example, the preparation of meats and seafood doesn’t occur in a Western-style kitchen. Rather, the meat gets prepared in the butcher shop of a meat manufacturer.
In Chinese cooking, the meats get cut and prepared in the kitchen. The duck and chicken get cut in the kitchen rather than in the meat factory.
If you speak to someone of Chinese origin, you’ll notice that they have different ways of praising the food. Chinese natives would tell you that it tastes like it’s made in a restaurant. In the West, you’ll often hear people praising food by saying that it tastes homemade.
Finding Authentic Chinese Food in a World of Western Chinese Cuisine
The adaptation of Chinese cooks to western tastes has diluted many classical Chinese flavors and techniques. The typical Chinese takeout you can get from western restaurants is a mix of cultures. This means it’s difficult to find honest representations of classical Chinese food.
This doesn’t mean that finding and tasting authentic Chinese food is impossible. You only need to know where to look. So, before you look up “real Chinese near me that delivers” on Google, consider our products.
We aim to reintroduce high-quality traditional Chinese dishes and tastes in the west.
Can I Find Chinese Near Me That Delivers?
Yes, you can! The next time you feel like eating Chinese foods, don’t settle for the typical dishes. Seek to get a taste of real Chinese food for a better cultural understanding of the cuisine.
You won’t grow tired of it because Chinese cuisine has a wide variety of styles and tastes. If you're wondering where to find “Chinese near me that delivers,” look no further.
We at XCJ have already got you covered. We deliver high-quality traditional Chinese food created by proud second-generation Asian-Americans who trained in Shanghai. Visit our online store to find the authentic Chinese street food you desire and order now.