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A vendor prepares a popular street food, jian bing, in Beijing, 2014.
A vendor prepares a popular street food, jian bing, in Beijing, 2014.
Photo by Jim Deutsch, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections

Chinese food is served throughout the world, from Stuttgart, Arkansas (population 9,300; four Chinese restaurants), to Stuttgart, Germany (population 613,000; twenty-two Chinese restaurants). While some people are familiar with certain dishes, many more are less aware of the processes, relationships, environments, and meanings that shape Chinese culinary traditions.

Foodways in China are diverse, reflecting the country’s many cultures and varied ecosystems. Food in China is also rich in symbolism derived from physical properties, homonyms, and legends. Activities and objects involved in food preparation, service, and consumption reinforce the social relations at the heart of Chinese communities.

The Five Spice Kitchen foodways demonstration area of the China program was named for the popular “five-spice” seasoning that typically combines cinnamon, cloves, star anise, fennel, and Sichuan peppercorns. Visitors learned how to prepare home-cooked comfort foods and festival favorites, new twists on old traditions, and everyday staples.


Wang Peng 汪鹏 is from Huai’an, Jiangsu Province, home to one of the most influential cuisines in China, the Huaiyang style. Since finishing his studies in the Yizhou Chef School, he has worked as the head chef in many fine restaurants. He has been honored for his expertise in Huaiyang cuisine, which is characterized by artistic presentation as well as original tastes. In 2010, he received the title of Culinary Master of China from the China Hotel Association.

Zhao Yuman 赵玉曼 of Shaanxi Province is a senior pastry chef. Educated at the Shaanxi Culinary School, Zhao has acquired expertise in preparing both Asian cuisines and Western pastries. She is especially skilled at making Huaiyang-style pastries, which typically utilize noodles, decorative buns and pastries, flour-based figurines, and pancakes. Her signature dishes include Huaiyang tea crispy dough twists, soup dumplings, dough sculptures, sugar modelings, and Cantonese-style desserts.

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