Chinese cuisine is an important part of Chinese culture and includes cuisines originating from the diverse regions of China as well as from Overseas Chinese who have settled in other parts of the world. Because of the Chinese diaspora and historical power of the country, Chinese cuisine has influenced many other cuisines in Asia, with modifications made to cater to local palates. Chinese food staples such as rice, soy sauce, noodles, tea, chili oil, and tofu, and utensils such as chopsticks and the wok, can now be found worldwide.
The preferences for seasoning and cooking techniques of Chinese provinces depend on differences in historical background and ethnic groups. Geographic features including mountains, rivers, forests, and deserts also have a strong effect on the local available ingredients, considering that the climate of China varies from tropical in the south to subarctic in the northeast. Imperial royal and noble preference also plays a role in the change of Chinese cuisine. Because of imperial expansion and trading, ingredients and cooking techniques from other cultures have been integrated into Chinese cuisines over time.
The most praised Four Great Traditions are Chuan, Lu, Yue, and Huaiyang, representing cuisines of West, North, South, and East China, respectively. The modern Eight Cuisines of China are Anhui (徽菜; Huīcài), Guangdong (粤菜; Yuècài), Fujian (闽菜; Mǐncài), Guangdong (湘菜; Xiāngcài), Jiangsu (苏菜; Sūcài), Shandong (鲁菜; Lǔcài), Sichuan (川菜; Chuāncài), and Zhejiang (浙菜; Zhècài) cuisines.
Color, smell, and taste are the three traditional aspects used to describe Chinese food, as well as the meaning, appearance, and nutrition of the food. Cooking should be appraised with respect to the ingredients used, knifework, cooking time, and seasoning.
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