Food has a special meaning to Chinese people. The "waste not, want not" ethos means that a surprising range and variety of plants and animals, and every part of a plant or animal is used. This has give rise to a remarkable diversity in the regional cuisine, but to westerners it can be overwhelming - surprising, delicious, horrifying or disgusting - and above all, different.
China's vast territory and diverse climates has given reason to distinct regional cuisines over the country. There are eight main culinary schools throughout the nation, each of which boast its characteristic way of cooking and unique taste.
Sichuan Cuisine/Chuan Cuisine. Among the eight major schools of China's culinary art, Suchuan Cuisine is perhaps the most popular one. It is well-known for its hot and pungent flavoring. The dishes can be hot, sweet, sour, salty or tongue-numbing.
Hunan Cuisine is characterized by a great variety of ingredients, shiny and strong colors, hot and spicy taste, smoked and pickled flavors.
Cantonese dishes are fresh, tender and lightly seasoned. The raw material for Cantonese food is very rich, which includes snake, cat and pangolin.
Shandong Cuisine includes many famous seafood dishes. The dishes are usually fresh, tasty but not greasy.
Jiangsu Cuisine is popular in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River. It is characteristically sweet.
Zhejiang Cuisine is developed from the local food of the four cities in Zhejiang Province: Hangzhou, Ningbo, Shaoxing and Wenzhou. Zhejiang Cuisine makes crisp, tender, light and fresh dishes.
Fujian Cuisine is developed from the local food of the three cities of Fujian Province: Fuzhou, Quanzhou and Xiamen. This region is close to the sea and sea food is a main ingredient. They are good at steaming, frying and braising the food, particularly good at pickling the ingredients before cooking.
Characteristics of Anhui Cuisine are natural ingredients selected; temperature and timing of cooking closely observed; original color and flavor preserved. Deep-frying, simmering and steaming are the usual cooking techniques applied.