China Food

Chinese people are slowly giving up “heavy taste”?

 

吃辣也分“南北差异”。

 

作者丨杨欢   
来源丨城市进化论
本文已获得“城市进化论”授权,推荐关注。

Some people say that Chinese people are slowly giving up “heavy taste”, which refers specifically to “spicy taste”.

One of the most intuitive manifestations is that whether in hot-pot/" 22375 rel="nofollow" target="_self">hot pot shops or Sichuan restaurants, the clerk asked “what flavor do you want?” Nine times out of ten, the people present will look at each other and be silent for a moment, expecting the other party to spit out the two words about “recognition counseling”: slightly spicy.

Looking back over the past 30 to 40 years, one of the important changes in Chinese diet and even the whole culture is that people began to like “heavy taste”. Not eating spicy food was even once regarded as the social incurable disease of contemporary people.

Statistics show that China’s spicy population has exceeded 650million, but in fact, pepper is an imported product. Since South America crossed the ocean, the history of pepper in China can be traced back to 400 years——

In the first hundred years, pepper was only used as an ornamental, but not yet eaten. In the following 200 years, the consumption of chili peppers was widely spread in China, forming the “traditional spicy eating area” we now know. Since the fourth century, the country has begun to usher in the spicy eating pandemic.

Cao Yu comes from Guangzhou, Guangdong Province. A few years ago, as an associate researcher of the center for immigration and ethnic studies at Sun Yat sen University, he found that local people can eat spicy food very well when he visited ethnic minorities in southern China and southwestern mountainous areas in a field survey, which aroused his strong curiosity. It took such a Cantonese five years to write this “history of Chinese spicy food”.

Author: Cao Yu Publishing House: Beijing United Publishing Company

In May this year, a new version of the book was published. “Large scale immigrant groups are bound to bring major changes in tastes, and the original regional urban tastes with huge differences are being rapidly unified.” The book points out that the dominant taste nationwide at this stage is spicy.

However, the trend of spicy food may face extinction. According to Cao Yu, the commercial format of spicy food has almost reached its peak and will slowly weaken.

“The age range of spicy food is almost 20 to 40 years old. People will gradually reduce spicy food when they get old. Although there are still young people adding to the cities, the number of immigrants is unlikely to increase on a large scale.”

The Chinese civilization has lasted for 5000 years, and pepper has entered China only for a mere 400 years, but this does not prevent it from rapidly attacking cities and territories. Now China’s annual output of pepper ranks first in the world.

How was pepper introduced into China? The history of spicy food in China starts with the origin of the name pepper. In the southwest, pepper is also known as “sea pepper”, which implies the spread path of pepper in China——

Pepper was first exposed in the southeast coast of China, and then the coverage area of China’s inland river trade network, such as trade towns along the Yangtze River, the Grand Canal and the Pearl River. The trade routes cover a few areas, and the records of pepper are the latest.

Source: Xinhua News Agency

According to historical records, Guangzhou and Ningbo are the two most important ports for pepper to enter China

In the chapter “differences between the north and the South” in the history of spicy food in China, it is mentioned that during the Jiaqing period of the Qing Dynasty, pepper spread from Sichuan to Hanzhong, and then all the way north. Different from the chili sauce commonly eaten in the south, the application of chili in the diet in the Northwest has always been in the form of chili powder as the absolute mainstream.

Image source: photo network 500839127

The distinction between chili sauce and chili powder is roughly bounded by the Qinling Huaihe River line. The geographical separation of the western Qinling Mountains is relatively clear. The Hanzhong Basin and Sichuan basin to the south of the Qinling Mountains are generally dominated by chili sauce, and the guanzhongping principle is the world of chili powder.

As the Huaihe River in the East is located in the plain of East China, the geographical barrier is not obvious, and the North-South boundary is not as clear as the Qinling Mountains. The use of chili sauce and chili powder on both sides of the Huaihe River is almost equal, but generally, the closer it is to the Yangtze River, the less chili powder, and the closer it is to the Yellow River, the less chili sauce.

From the perspective of production process, chili sauce in the south often adopts the ancient sauce making technology. For example, the bean paste is added with spicy embryos after the bean paste is made, while the traditional pickling technology is used for chopped and pickled peppers.

Due to the diversity of raw materials and the complexity of the production process, it is easy to form different tastes, that is to say, each region has its own unique secret recipe, and the taste of chili sauce produced is also different, and even there is a saying of baijiabaiwei in Sichuan.

In the north, the production of chili powder is highly consistent. Instead of each household’s unique chili production skills, there is a meticulous division of labor and cooperation in the production of chili powder.

The history of spicy food in China points out that the different processing and eating methods of pepper between the South and the North reflect a series of natural and human characteristics derived from their respective geographical conditions, such as rice food corresponding to pasta, individual corresponding to collective, and so on.

With modern condiment production sweeping across China, highways and railways across the north and South have greatly weakened the geographical division, but this also means the disappearance of local traditional characteristics.

Cao Yu also pointed out in the book that the modernity of diet is almost a thing without turning back. With the deepening of urbanization, urban residents, who account for the majority of the population, are gradually moving away from self-sufficient rural life, and it may be difficult for Chinese people in the future to find the characteristic chili sauce with strong local customs.

“Culture is classy, especially food culture”. Pepper was once branded as a “non-staple food for the poor”, making it difficult to be elegant. According to historical data, despite the wide spread of pepper, spicy food was not common in the early years, even in large cities and rich families of officials and gentry within the traditional spicy eating areas.

Pepper really spread to the whole country in Chinese diet after the reform and opening up in 1978. “History of spicy food in China” mentioned that since 1978, China’s rapid urbanization process has made hundreds of millions of immigrants enter cities, and immigrants have created “cities” that cover nearly half of China’s population

Author: Yang Huan; Source: ID: urban_evolution, reprinted with authorization.

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Chinese people are slowly giving up “heavy taste”?

而在北方,辣椒粉的生产是高度一致的,这里没有每家每户独特的辣椒制作技艺,取而代之的是在辣椒粉生产环节中细致的分工与合作。

《中国食辣史》中指出,南方与北方对辣椒的加工方式和食用方式的迥异,体现的正是南北方基于各自的地理条件基础而衍生出的一系列自然与人文特征,比如米食对应面食,个体对应集体等等。

而随着现代化的调味品生产席卷中国各地,遍及南北各地的高速公路和铁路大大弱化了地理的区隔,但这也意味着地方传统特色的消失。

曹雨也在书中提出,饮食的现代性几乎是一件没有回头路的事情,随着城市化程度的日益加深,占人口多数的城市居民离自给自足的田园生活渐行渐远,而将来的中国人也许再也难以寻回曾经带有浓厚地方风情的特色辣椒酱。


“文化是有阶级性的,饮食文化更是如此”。辣椒曾一度被打上“穷人的副食”的阶级烙印,使之难登大雅之堂。据史料考证,尽管辣椒广泛传播,但早年间即使在传统食辣区域以内的大型城市和官绅富户之家,食辣也并不普遍。

辣椒真正在中国饮食中蔓延至全国范围是在1978年改革开放以后。《中国食辣史》中提到,从1978年至今,中国迅速的城市化进程使得数以亿计的移民进入城市,移民们创造了覆盖中国近半人口的“城市辣味饮食文化”。


图片来源:新华社

最早开始研究辣椒的时候,曹雨曾在广州、上海分别进行过一次问卷调查。问题包括——你来这里多长时间了、你自己在家或者出去吃不吃辣、你一周会吃几次辣、在家吃饭和在外吃饭的比例等。

这些问卷得出最直观的研究成果就是——移民都会吃辣。不管你来自哪里,只要你离开家乡,去大城市生活,大概率会比较多地吃辣,这和你之前在家吃不吃辣没有关系。

究其原因,食品的商品化使得廉价的调味料大量充斥市场,而以辣椒为主要材料的重口味调味能够覆盖质量不好的食材较差的口味,这样就使得廉价的辣味菜肴得以在收入不高的移民中流行起来。

这些刚刚进入城市的移民有着较多的外餐需求,在城市中根基未稳也带来了更多的社交需求,辣味菜肴和辣味餐馆得以满足移民的诸多需求。

“人类吃辣的行为与饮酒的行为有类似之处”。事实上,人的舌头能够感受到的味道只有酸甜苦咸四种,我们常说的辣味其实并非一种味觉,而是一种痛觉。

《中国食辣史》认为,吃辣和饮酒都是通过对自我的伤害来获得同伴的信任的一种社交行为。共同吃辣也就隐喻着“我愿意与你一同忍耐痛苦”,这种共情造成了信任的产生。

在中国的特大城市中,移民人口都已经占到或者接近于城市常住人口的一半或者更高。大规模的移民群体带来口味的变化,原有巨大差异的地域性城市口味被迅速地统一,而现阶段在全国范围内占据主导的口味正是辣味。

然而展望未来,这样的趋势可能会面临减退。造成这一变化的直观因素在于人口老龄化的不断加深。

正所谓人到中年不得已,保温杯里泡枸杞。在中国,“吃辣的年龄区间差不多就是20到40岁,人老了以后慢慢会减少吃辣。尽管还不断有年轻人口补充到城市里,但移民的量已经不太可能有很大规模的增长。”曹雨说。


者:杨欢;来源:城市进化论(ID:urban_evolution),转载已获得授权。
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