When you're hungry…we mean REALLY hungry…what type of food do you crave? Is a juicy cheeseburger the only thing that will hit the spot? Or would you prefer something from a different culture? Maybe a burrito or a taco? How about an egg roll instead?
If you like egg rolls, then you must like Chinese food. Have you ever eaten at a Chinese restaurant? It can be a delicious and daring experience as you sample foods that you may have never seen before.
But have you ever stopped to WONDER…do people in China eat the types of foods you see in an American Chinese restaurant? In a nutshell, the answer is yes…and no!
Some of the dishes you'll find on American Chinese restaurant menus are traditional Chinese recipes, while others are purely American creations. For example, have you ever had a fortune cookie for dessert? You won't find those very often in China! And those egg rolls we mentioned earlier? People in China usually prefer more delicate spring rolls to the deep-fried egg rolls commonly found in American Chinese restaurants.
Likewise, some popular American Chinese dishes, like General Tso's Chicken, are American creations that appeal to Americans but not necessarily people in China. So what do people in China eat?
China is the most populous nation in the world, with well over a billion people. So it makes sense that you'll find many different types of food throughout the country. Like the United States, China has different specialties that vary by region. We can make some observations, though, about foods that tend to be popular in many areas.
If you've ever eaten in a Chinese restaurant, you've probably noticed that rice and noodles are very popular. Guess what? They are in China, too! The people of the Canton province are known to be big rice eaters, while noodles are more popular in northern areas where the climate makes it harder to grow rice.
The Sichuan and Hunan provinces are known for their love of spicy foods that include hot peppers. So dishes like Hunan Pork and Kung Pao Chicken definitely have their roots in real, traditional Chinese recipes.
Most American Chinese restaurants also feature soups. If you've ever tried Wonton Soup or Egg Drop Soup, you've eaten a dish that would be very commonplace in China.
Many traditional Chinese dishes also feature lots and lots of vegetables. Some popular vegetables in China include green beans, cauliflower, leeks, bean sprouts, bok choy and cabbage. So if you want a real, authentic Chinese meal that people in China would eat, you'd better like your veggies!