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Chinese cuisine has many regional variations

There are eight major schools of Chinese cuisine named after the places where they were conceived.

india Updated: Jun 24, 2003 12:08 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has a well-known passion for Chinese cuisine -- and Chinese food, or its localised variation, is popular in most Indian cities and towns.

But what many don't know is that there are eight major schools of Chinese cuisine named after the places where they were conceived - Shandong, Sichuan, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Guangdong, Hunam, Fujain and Anhi.

These schools can be divided into four broad categories:

Northern Cuisine: Beijing's famous Peking Duck has developed from the Shandong school. Peking Duck is roasted in a special way and eaten in a thick pancake with cucumber, spring onions and sweet plum sauce.

Another speciality of this cuisine is Mongolian hotpot, a Chinese version of fondue. It consists of a central simmering soup in a special, large round pot in which is dropped a variety of uncooked meats and vegetables that are cooked on the spot and eaten in communal style by several people at a time.

Southern Cuisine: Guangdong, or Cantonese food, is popular with Westerners and famous for being the most exotic in China. Guangzhou city's food markets with their array of animals like snakes, dogs, turtles and wild cats used in its cuisine are a testimony to this.

Eastern Cuisine: Rich and sweet, often pickled, famous in Shanghai and Zhejiang. It is noted for seafood, hot and sour soup, noodles and vegetables.

Western Cuisine: More popular as Sichuan and Hunan food in India, it is spicy, often sour and peppery, with specialities such as diced chicken in soya sauce and peanuts and beancurd.

The best-known national drink is Mao Tai, a fiery spirit distilled from rice wine. A popular beer is Qingdao.

First Published: Jun 24, 2003 12:08 IST