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.
Reprint authorization and media business cooperation: Amy (wechat: 13701559246);
Join the community: Cherry (wechat: 15262433826).
Food people are “watching”
Read the original text
Chinese people are slowly giving up “heavy taste”?