Food and People with Elaine Wray

Food is one of the pleasures that reveals our society's cultural values.  The cuisine of Shanghai and Beijing provides a memorable dining experience where we not only appreciate the food but also appreciate the traditions and cultures of these two exciting cities. The regional Chinese cuisine offers a variety from the finest noodles to dim sum to the Peking duck.

Chinese food are very symbolic and the symbols are incorporated during the festivals through the year.  For example, the noodles are the Chinese symbol for longevity. For this reason noodles are traditionally served at a birthday party.  Chinese believe that eating long noodles on birthdays and New Years will bring long life.

The taste of Chinese cuisine can transport you to the ancient world.  The Peking duck can be traced since the Yuan and Ming Dynasty and it was served among other dishes in the imperial court. It was a delicacy that was only served for the upper class society.

I'm from Brazil, and we call Beijing, "Pequim," in Portuguese.  Phonetically, these two words sound very similar, so I asked my guide, why not call the dish Beijing Duck instead?  She explained that it was only around 1950 that the Chinese government decided to use the Latin Alphabet and Peking became technically Beijing to the western world. I listened to the history of this noble dish while seated at Qianmen Quanjude restaurant and looking the chefs carving the duck.  It captured my imagination and took my mind to the world of ancient China.

For many years, I have been traveling around Asia. The culture fascinates me. They have respect for the elderly people and the respect they also have for the leaders of their country. Every time they mention one of the emperors, they say, my great leader, my great emperor dynasty. I just found profoundly fascinating. From the the beauty of the temples, the art, the silk, the exotic dishes, to the kindness of the people, I could not be happier with my amazing journeys to China.

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