Ancient Chinese is one of the oldest ancient civilizations that the world has witnessed. Their history is running back to thousands years ago and regarded as one of the marvelous civilization that had a great impact to the development of the modern world. The history of ancient Chinese food is, of course, without any difference. Chinese is famously known for their advanced lifestyle compared to other antiquities in which it’s proven by their ability to invent and to make a new invention in order to enhance their life. The food sector is also one of their concerns since the ancient Chinese had realized since the early time that food relates to their health; for a healthy body, they need enough and appropriate food. The development of Chinese food has started as early as 5000 BCE. And since then, there’s been a lot of improvement and development throughout their culinary history. Nonetheless, there are some major foods from ancient Chinese that make the most of Chinese culinary face today. Thus, without any further ado, here are 10 ancient Chinese foods that are still widely consumed in modern Chinese.
As broadly consumed till today and as other ancient civilization had it, vegetable is an important diet for the Chinese antiquity. The unique of Chinese diet which survives until today, however, was not generally refer to all the veggies but specifically refers to Soybean and Cucumber. The two items mentioned above were the main vegetable dish in ancient Chinese foods; it was previously a pricey item for foods.
In the ancient Chinese, these two staples are consumed as early as 1000 BC when people started to make their own crop. The history of soybeans as Chinese diet was recorded in the discovery of bronze vessels which is presumed to be archeological evidence from the early age of the Zhou period. On those vessels, the Chinese character for soybean, “Shu”, is carved there. Soybeans grains are a commodity enjoyed by the majority of the population, yet the poorer ones usually need extra work to add vegetables to their rice. This development of soybean was predicted to appear around 500 BC, the time of the Confucius. The same way work for cucumber, it’s also a pricey food in China. However, these vegetables were favored for its nutrition that’s good for the body.
Soybean and Cucumber are still widely consumed by Chinese people until today since vegetable is good for health. It is believed to give nutrition to skin and to make the body feel younger.
The ancient Chinese is truly an ancient civilization that has a big impact on the modern days. While they’re also the invention of alcohol, this ancient Chinese beverage has also made its name big and become one of the major culinary attractions for many tourists. Rice wine known as the traditional Chinese wine was created thousands of years ago, the history of Chinese wine dated back to the prehistoric period.
In the ancient time, rice wine or “mijiu” was made from the combination of millet and rice. This drink immediately became a hit in Chinese culture and in the process, the purpose of rice wine shifted. The delicious taste of mijiu was regarded as divine by the Chinese people. It was then served to worship their gods and goddesses. The culture of mijiu also reached the political sphere as it became a must item in political meetings. From all the many types of rice wine, the yellow wine is deemed to be the starter of wine in China which was introduced during the Shang Dynasty. The other varieties are made after the Han and Tang Dynasty. This beverage was very favored in the ancient time as it was once held the victory against tea that had been become a favorite drink for centuries.
Today, the popularity of rice wine is as favored as it was in the past. Although it doesn’t stand a chance with tea this time as a global commodity, rice wine is still a fascinating drink that intrigues many people attention.
Even though sorghum might sound alien to many ears, but this commodity is one of the favored foods consumed by the ancient Chinese. Today, sorghum is still commonly produced in China and used to make various kinds of dish.
Known as Milo, this staple was highly favored because of its simple nature. Compared to other grains cultivated in ancient Chinese, sorghum relatively was easier to plant and better for the pocket. To grow sorghum, the farmer needed only a small bucket of water since this grain is strong enough to strive on the land that couldn’t be cultivated with other grains. Sorghum seed also cost them less and it didn’t particularly need to be fertilized regularly. Thus, this food was very famous in ancient time, especially for the lower class. The archeological evidence of sorghum consumption is found in Shijiazhuang. It’s predicted that the consumption of sorghum as one of the ancient Chinese foods began in the late Neolithic period.
Although this commodity doesn’t make its name big, the existence of sorghum as one of the early Chinese commodity is recorded by the world and the ancient Chinese is entitled as “the oldest and the largest center for the origin of Sorghum”.
Meat, one of the most favored foods of all ages, was also a popular diet in ancient Chinese. The type of meat consumed by the ancient Chinese varied into three big classifications, namely chicken, pork and sheep. This culinary preference continues to the future generation in China with varieties of mouthwatering dish creations.
The history of meat on Chinese people bowl was indeed a long one. Around 5000 BC, the people of ancient China had already consumed domesticated chicken. This culinary development was adopted from their neighbor Thailand which prior had made it a culinary habit in their hometown. Pork was later become a popular food around 4000 BC. Unlike their chicken consumption which was imported from Thailand, pork was the original meat diet eaten by the ancient Chinese. Hence, it’s no wonder that pork consumption in the modern days is very popular and loved by many people in China. The last meat type from the ancient Chinese is Sheep which began around the same period with pork. However, similar to chicken, sheep culinary was an imported eating habit from West Asia. These three types of meat made the big composition of Chinese diet on meat.
Unfortunately, meat was an expensive commodity and only a small scoop of people could enjoy it. In addition, that the poor class couldn’t afford meat and the Buddhists didn’t consume meat, it turned the reputation of meat a little dimmer. Nonetheless, meat culinary makes it through until this modern day and becomes the favorite food of countless people.
One of the vibrant invention that ancient Chinese made is Tea which is the drink loved by many people. Tea was firstly discovered by Shennong about 4000 years ago. And since his discovery, tea has become a global commodity that’s enjoyed by many people with varieties of background.
In the ancient Chinese, tea was quite a magical drink which had the power to unite anyone for any class. It deleted the boundaries that were usually strong separating the rich from the poor. It’s consumed by literally everyone on many occasions every day. In China, tea was enjoyed for various reasons, though the main reason was usually for health. Tea gradually developed not only as a drink but also as a form of art. The art of tea making was an elegant attraction made for the upper class where they did tea tasting from the given sample.
As tea was famous in the ancient Chinese, it now holds the record as one of the most loved beverages consumed around the world with coffee and chocolate. This drink is proudly declared by the Chinese government as their native tea. It’s no wonder that the Chinese are so proud of this invention. Tea has made its own history in the eye of the world.
If you are a fan of Asian culinary specifically Chinese and Japanese culinary, tofu dish probably isn’t alien to your ear. This food that consumed by many modern people is a legacy of the Chinese ancestors. Tofu originated from China, was made of the combination of curdling agents, soybeans, and water which was a rich source of protein, calcium, and iron. Accordingly, tofu was the food that saved numerous numbers of stomachs from malnutrition.
The history of tofu is quite a hazy one yet it’s said to begin around 1000 AD under the regime of Sung Dynasty, but its widespread was a grand innovation of the Chinese govern-body that time to secure the welfare of their people. Since the main source of protein was known from meat, it’s hardly possible for the poor class to afford meat, leaving them with only limited choice for the nutrient source. Thus, they made a solution by giving the poorer class a free tofu rotation every weak. It helped them to fix the nutrition problem as well made tofu to be a popular food. Tofu popularity also boomed for the easy making process which gives many benefits to the poorer class. This food was affordable enough to make, and it kept their health up to continue life.
However, in the ancient time fire become a troubling matter in making tofu. While tofu is made in a big amount nowadays, the ancient Chinese should cut their food into a smaller portion because of the limited source of the fire. Hence, the ancient Chinese food was served in small quantity. Although tofu is served in apparently similar cut now, it’s for a whole different reason.
The next most consumed food passed by the ancient Chinese is noodles. This food, in fact, has attacked the culinary preference of many people across the world. The fame of noodles is mushrooming and lasting for many generations. It was also the source inspiration of spaghetti in Italy.
In the Han Dynasty, the Chinese experienced a great jump of culinary development. As they got more active in their trading activities because of the established Silk Road route, the ancient Chinese also got more creative in their culinary creation since they’re introduced to new tastes from other culinary cultures. Noodle is one of the jumps made in this period. Originally, it’s created on the north side of China where the land was a bit dryer than the majority. The people there, instead of rice, cultivated wheat and millet which became the main ingredient of Noodle. The invention of noodles in the north part of the Han Dynasty became the solution for them to the expensive price of rice. This ancient Chinese legacy became very popular and during the Song Dynasty, noodles restaurant stayed open until late to match people’s enthusiasm for it.
Nowadays, noodles have variants of types and serving options. It’s also made in instant packages in many parts of the world, truly loved by millions of people.
The next in this list is wheat which was an imported commodity that Chinese bought from their trading partner. Even though it wasn’t a native food from China, the introduction of wheat in 2500 BC had led them to one of their greatest food inventions. It’s also a help for the northern people who couldn’t grow rice on their land due to its dryer character.
The northern chine had been so long stuck with their millet diet. Since rice was quite unaffordable due to the transportation cost from the eastern part, they could only have millet as their main diet. After the introduction of wealth, the product of their land became more varies and it gave them another choice of food. But, unlike the use of wheat in European side, the charcoal needed to bake bread was unbearably expensive. So, albeit the new variety, their culinary creation returned to the form of porridge.
However, it wasn’t for so long that they stuck with porridge as noodles were invented in the Han Dynasty. Then, wheat was mostly used to make the dough for noodles. Thus, the production of wealth hit their fame. Until now, wheat is still used as the main ingredient of noodles in China.
While wheat is the main source of carbohydrate imported from their western trading partner, millet is the native food which had long cultivated on the northern part of China. It’s already a big portion of the Northern people diet since 4500 BC. And it keeps its track through history as this staple is still grown in some part of China, enjoyed by many of their future generations.
Millet was the earliest source of food for the ancient Chinese. It’s the infamous Bromyard millet, a type of millet growing wild throughout their antiquity, which became the main food commodity. Then, as they found it was beneficial for their body, they started to cultivate and grow it on their land to ensure that it wouldn’t go vanish. In the Han Dynasty, the function of millet shifted from the main diet of Northern people to be the ingredient of Chinese well-known wine, Mijiu. Mijiu or rice wine production became very famous that millet was known more for it. However, the fame of millet as a main source of energy in northern land remained stagnant.
To this day, both millet and rice wine are famously known in China. It also takes the attention of international tourists in which they’re seeking to find and taste this ancient food.
The top number one of the ancient Chinese foods which is still consumed today is Rice. Surely, it’s not very surprising since Chinese culinary is never complete without a bowl of rice. This food was the main part of the Chinese diet since the late Stone Age. From the archeological findings in Zhejiang Province, it’s estimated about 3000 to 4000 years ago that the Chinese had cultivated rice. Although rice wasn’t a native food, it’s widely believed that the Chinese invented the first rice paddy system.
Rice was a big part of Chinese culinary culture that it rewards their antiquity culture with the title of “rice culture”. In ancient China, almost everyone ate rice, especially the eastern side of China which was the main producer, thanks to their land condition. Their cooking method was similar to what’s known in the modern world in which they steamed or boiled the rice until it soft enough. In the western part of the Zhou Dynasty, the importance of rice became highly prominent for the country. The innovation of rice varied greatly with the agriculture development experienced by the ancient Chinese. It was a revered food for every class and made into a daily diet eventually. The role of rice was also put sacred as a sacrifice to gods. It was also mixed with millet to make wine.
This food is still consumed daily by the modern Chinese and, as the title given, rice is a strong and unforgettable part of Chinese culture.
The food in ancient Chinese varies widely yet there is a major commodity that’s vital for their culinary development in the future. This list presents those ten major commodities consumed by the ancient Chinese as well as the commodities that survive in the modern world. In addition, rice is an inseparable commodity of Chinese life and it already becomes a culture for them. Chinese cuisine is truly fascinating with the inventions made in the past and the ongoing innovations in the current moment.