Journey Through Eight Great Traditions of Chinese Cuisine


Hi All:

Suanne and I wants to embark on an exploration in learning about the Eight Great Traditions of Chinese Cuisine. We are just intrigued by the differences between these distinct regional cuisines — we want do a series on them over a period of time.

Song Dynasty Party | Credit: wikipedia.org

Song Dynasty Party | Credit: wikipedia.org

The Eight Great Traditions of Chinese Cuisine are defined as follows (with the 4 major ones marked with ***):

  • Anhui
  • Cantonese ***
  • Fujian
  • Hunan
  • Jiangsu (Huaiyang) ***
  • Shandong ***
  • Sichuan ***
  • Zhejiang

We would love to engage chowtimes readers in this journey with us. As you know, the traditional way to enjoy Chinese food is to have it banquet style. We are thinking of organizing something along these lines:

  • We meet once a month on a Saturday. Each month, we will focus on one of the eight regional cuisine
  • I will organize a table or two (ten to a table) with a multi-course dinner
  • I (or a volunteer) will research about the cuisine and share with everyone.
  • We will learn about the region, the ingredients, the cooking techniques, famous dishes, the people, etc.

After all, I am of the opinion that Vancouver is home to the best authentic Chinese restaurants in North America. I think we can even go as far as saying Vancouver is home to the best authentic Chinese restaurants outside of China.

It will be a great time to learn, meet fellow foodies and most important of all, enjoy the best each of the regional cuisines has to offer. Depending on the responses, I am already thinking of going on to another series on “ancient cuisines” — but that’s for another time. One step at a time.

Is there anyone who will be interested to join Suanne and I?

If you are, just send me an email (ben@chowtimes.com) and we will take it from there.

Ben

27 thoughts on “Journey Through Eight Great Traditions of Chinese Cuisine

    • Hi Cheryl: Doing a 8 Great Traditions of Chinese Cuisine in San Diego? I don’t know but I would think unlikely. Already it is very difficult to do the same in Vancouver even though we have a large number of Chinese restaurants. Ben

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  3. Ben – it just occurred to me that, like your Diversely Delicious Project, perhaps this may end up being a documentary project of sorts. Or at least keep the options open for it.

  4. Oh yes please! What a topnotch concept. I would love to learn more about the diversity of Chinese cuisine, and to do so with other like-minded persons of appetite. Please add me to the contact list (and I suspect I will be able to interest my SO as well). I’d be happy to help with research, if a tall blonde gwailo chick can be of assistance :-).

    • Thanks for the offer Grayelf. I am going to need all the help I can get. I had included your name on the contact list. I will let you know once I had some things planned out.
      Ben

  5. Ben – I’m in (depending on the dates of the actual events).

    I’m curious on how it’ll be sliced. We probably won’t find restaurants that focus entirely on certain singular cuisines. (It is easy, however, to find restos that represent a couple of the Original Eight – namely Hunan, Sichuan and Cantonese.)

    You will, however, find individual specialty dishes served at certain restaurants that represent certain cuisines (eg common items like Beggar’s Chicken, etc are served at many Cantonese restaurants despite its Jiangsu roots…etc.)….so that is probably the strategy we’ll have to take.

    Also practically speaking – the relevance of the Eight Traditions might only make sense in China itself..even then it has sort of morphed over time. For example, “Shanghai Cuisine” is an aggregate of cuisines from the surrounding region.

    The Chinese Diasporia, Imperialism and Western colonization have birthed other unique cuisines (eg Beijing, Hakka, Desi (Indian-Chinese), HK Cafe, Muslim-Chinese, Filipino-Chinese, Hoa (Chinese-Vietnamese), etc.

    I’m get long-winded here…so I’ll cut to the chase:

    Here’s a first stab of what would be on my list:
    Hunan – Alvin Garden
    Sichuan – Golden Spring
    Cantonese – Sea Harbour
    The rest of them we might have to cobble together.

    Fantastic project!

    -f

    • Hi fmed: Yeah, I have the same thoughts too. Some of the cuisines are very straight forward. We will probably do those first which we take the time to figure out the more obscure ones. You know, with your wealth of knowledge, I am going to seek your advice. Can I count on you? Like what I said in the post, I am just intrigued with Culinary History and am on a mission to learn, not TEACH!! : -)

      • I’m at your beckon call. We will be learning together, however. Some of those 8 are pretty obscure.

        You know how to reach me!
        -f

  6. I would so much love to go on this! I doubt I’ll be able to come up once a month, though.

    I’m assuming it is a separate checks or fee thing.

    You know, if it works out you could teach it as a class people pay for, like the Pike Place Market tour you went on in Seattle.

    • Hi etranger: Nice thought but no. I am not interested in making money out of this. I just want to have a great time with foodies and learn from one another. Frankly, not knowing how to read Chinese makes it hard for me to research because there are so little references for Chinese Cuisine written in English. I need to debunk any misconception that I know a lot about food. I don’t! LOL! It just happen that I write a blog about food and enjoys dining with people.

    • LotusRapper: I just had to go back and re-read that post and see where I could have given anyone the impression that I am buying. LOL! I am not buying, OK? We are all going Dutch for this.

      • Hi LotusRapper: Am trying to get the list of responses updated. Would we have the honour of your presence for the dinner? Ben

      • “Honour” ? [gulp, blush]. The honour is mine, sir, to be in your presence as your invitee !

        So the answer is yes. But too early to know how many I can make. Depends on the dates, times, etc.

        BTW, I was joking about you paying for everyone 😀

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