Posts tagged sweet and sour
History of Sweet & Sour Cuisine
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Sweet and sour is a very popular Chinese dish and one of my favorite but how did it become so popular? Is it really something that’s traditional in China or was it adapted to American’s tastes?

Chinese cuisine uses a variety of ingredients and cooking methods that are very different from other cultures. Their own food and recipes vary according to the different Chinese regions, but generally speaking their basic diet consists mainly of rice and vegetables. Sweet and Sour chicken recipes in Western countries are not exactly what you would find in China. Usually the Chinese use the sweet and sour flavor for fish recipes rather than for chicken. Also, the Chinese, unlike the Americans, do not drown their food in the sauce; rather they serve it on the side for dipping. The sweet and sour recipes for fish are associated with the region of Hunan in China. The recipes that we use in America do however combine the classical combination of the five flavors of: sweet, sour, salty, pungent and bitter. The Chinese do not use as much sweet as we do, and their recipes tend to be more on the bitter side; to create the sweet and sour flavor they mostly mix vinegar with sugar. It is believed that the authentic cuisine of China developed during the Manchus Dynasty of 1644-1911; they introduced a life of decadence and leisure, where food became an important feature in their three day long Imperial Banquets. For the Chinese, food is treated with utmost respect, and is associated with health, luck and prosperity.

There are several different variations of this dish but for the most part it was created to satisfy Western tastes but still keeping the tradition and flavor of China.

My First Chinese Restaurant Experience
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I remember my first Chinese Restaurant experience fondly. There was something special about it that has left an impression on me and my memory. When I think about it I've been to so many different restaurants in my 32 years of life and most of them I don't remember but New Peking Chinese Restaurant will always have a special place in my heart. 

Honestly, I don't really know if this was the first time I had actually had Chinese food or not but this place I remember going to as a family. We would go with my mom ,sister, Grandpa and Japanese Grandma to this spot off of North Dixie in a semi tiny strip mall (where all the good food is in the midwest). I just remember it having a big red door that transported you into a different world of smells and visual memories. We would always go on a Wednesday when my dad would be out golfing with his friends and we got to treat ourselves to some dinner out. I remember the menu having so much food that ranged not only from Chinese food but also Korean. This was the first time I had ever seen Bipmpop and it was impressive! 

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Since I was a pretty picker eater those days so I was scared of half of the menu because I didn't know what to expect. I had always liked chicken and thought that you couldn't really go wrong with something that could be both sweet and sour and ordered that dish in hopes that it would be ok. And boy was it! The taste was so new and interesting and left my taste buds confused and excited made me really interested in the wold of Chinese food and what it all had to offer. In a way I couldn't believe that there was this food out there and so many varieties of it. Even though New Peking is no longer around I will always remember that red door and how it opened my taste buds to new experiences and every time I taste sweet and sour chicken I think not only of that but also the wonderful times I had there with family and how Chinese food can bring people together.