Guangdong Province & Delicious Cantonese Cuisine
Trip Start Jan 01, 2005
757Trip End Ongoing
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Hey Hey and a Big G'Day toya,
To begin the 2010 Winter Beers N Noodles Adventure I put together this page (from www.wikipedia.org) for those who have Chinese friends and also love Chinese food. For those who don't, I'm sure you will find it rather interesting as well. You will be surprised at how much Guangdong Province (Guangzhou/Canton City) has actually immersed itself into and influenced the Western World without us even knowing. Chinese immigrants from Guangdong helped build many of the rail roads from which our societies flourished, dug and found wealth in several of the rushes and simply worked the jobs that nobody else wanted to do, even today.
All the above along with spreading Cantonese Cuisine throughout the world.
(Or simply put), the Chinese food we eat in our Western Restaurants.
When you read the small piece about dialects, this very much answers why my Mandarin/Chinese is so bad. What you will read also goes for Guangxi Province and Fujian Province which both border Guangdong. Add to that, Guangxi is 70% Minority peoples. I began simply smiling, shrugging my shoulders and playing charades along time ago to help stop the frustration and confusion of trying to learn a language that no one around me used.
At the bottom of this page you will find a small sample of the delicious foods that I was lucky enough to have found a tiny stool to sit myself on, squashed myself in with the locals and chowed down on along with the odd bottle of beer or five during the 2009 Winter Beers N Noodles Adventure during which I spent the entire month in Guuangzhou city (the capital of Guangdong Province).
Guangdong is a province in South East China on the border with Hong Kong.
In the era of tea clippers, both Guangdong and its capital Guangzhou were referred to in English as "Canton". We still call the food and the language of the area "Cantonese". Guangdong faces the South China Sea and surrounds Hong Kong. Long a provincial backwater, the province's economic fortunes changed dramatically when Deng Xiaoping instigated his reforms in 1978. Home to three of the country's Special Economic Zones and to a burgeoning manufacturing industry, Guangdong is now the richest province in China.
It is also the most populous Chinese province, with about 110 million people.
The Chinese food most Westerners are familiar with is basically Cantonese cooking.
The language of the area is Cantonese which differs from Mandarin as much as French differs from Italian or Spanish. Cantonese people are extremely proud of their language (this applies in Hong Kong as well) and continue to use it widely despite efforts at Mandarinization. Cantonese itself is more closely related to the language of the great Tang Dynasty than the more modern (circa Yuan Dynasty) Mandarin. Cantonese people worldwide tend to refer to themselves as Tang Ren (People of the Tang) rather than Han, the standard appellation for ethnic Chinese.
There can also be significant dialectal variations within Cantonese, and the Cantonese spoken in areas in the far Western reaches of Guangdong (eg. Taishan) are only marginally, or sometimes even not mutually intelligible with the Cantonese spoken in Hong Kong or Guangzhou. At the coastal areas near the border with Fujian, most notably Chaozhou and Shantou, a variant of Minnan known commonly as Teochew (the native pronunciation of Chaozhou) is spoken.
Teochew is not mutually intelligible with Cantonese, but is still mutually intelligible with the Xiamen dialect of Minnan to a small extent.
As Mongols from the north engaged in their conquest of China in the 13th century, the Southern Song Dynasty retreated southwards, eventually ending up in today's Guangdong. The Battle of Yamen 1279 in Guangdong marked the end of the Southern Song Dynasty (960-1279). During the Mongol Yuan Dynasty, Guangdong was a part of Jiangxi. Its present name, "Guangdong Province" was given in early Ming Dynasty.
Since the 16th century, Guangdong has had extensive trade links with the rest of the world.
European merchants coming northwards via the Straits of Malacca and the South China Sea, particularly the Portuguese and British, traded extensively through Guangzhou. Macau, on the southern coast of Guangdong, was the first European settlement in China since 1557. It was the opium trade through Guangzhou that triggered the Opium Wars, opening an era of foreign incursion and intervention in China. In the 19th century, Guangdong was also the major port of exit for labourers to Southeast Asia and the West, i.e. United States and Canada.
As a result, many overseas Chinese communities have their origins in Guangdong.
The Cantonese language therefore has proportionately more speakers among overseas Chinese people than mainland Chinese. In the US, there is a large number of Chinese who are descendants of immigrants from the otherwise unremarkable Guangdong region of Taishan (Toisan in Cantonese), who speak a distinctive dialect of Cantonese called Taishanese (or Toishanese).
During the 1850s, the first revolt of the Taiping Rebellion by the Hakka people took place in Guangdong.
In recent years, the province has seen extremely rapid economic growth, aided in part by its close trading links with Hong Kong, which borders it. It is now the province with the highest gross domestic product in China. In 1952, a small section of Guangdong's coastline was given to Guangxi, giving it access to the sea. This was reversed in 1955, and then restored in 1965. Hainan Island was originally part of Guangdong but it was separated as its own province in 1988.
Guangdong faces the South China Sea to the south and has a total of 4,300 km of coastline.
Guangdong borders Fujian province to the northeast, Jiangxi and Hunan provinces to the north, Guangxi autonomous region to the west, and Hong Kong and Macau Special Administrative Regions to the south. Hainan province is offshore across from the Leizhou Peninsula. Guangdong has a humid subtropical climate (tropical in the far south), with short, mild, dry, winters and long, hot, wet summers. Average daily highs in Guangzhou in January and July are 18C (64F) and 33C (91F) respectively, although the humidity makes it feel much hotter in summer.
Frost is rare on the coast but may happen a few days each winter well inland.
The majority of the province's population is Han Chinese. There is a small Yao population in the north. Other smaller minority groups include She, Miao, Li, and Zhuang. The Hakka people live in large areas of Guangdong, including Huizhou, Meizhou, Shenzhen, Heyuan, Shaoguan and other areas. Much of the Eastern part of Guangdong is populated by the Hakka people.
No matter where you are in China, it honestly is 'All About the Food!'
Cantonese (Yue) cuisine comes from Guangdong Province in Southern China, or specifically from Guangzhou (Canton). Of all the regional varieties of Chinese cuisine, Cantonese is the best known outside China; most "Chinese restaurants" in Western countries serve Cantonese cuisine and dishes based on it. Its prominence outside China is due to its palatability to Westerners and the great numbers of early emigrants from Guangdong. In China, too, it enjoys great prestige among the eight great traditions of Chinese cuisine, and Cantonese chefs are highly sought after throughout the country.
Cantonese cuisine draws upon a great diversity of ingredients, Guangzhou (Canton) being a great trading port since the days of the Thirteen Factories, bringing it many imported foods and ingredients. Besides pork, beef, and chicken, Cantonese cuisine incorporates almost all edible meats, including organ meats, chicken feet, duck and duck tongues, snakes, and snails. Many cooking methods are used, steaming and stir-frying being the most favoured due to their convenience and rapidity, and their ability to bring out the flavor of the freshest ingredients. Other techniques include shallow frying, double boiling, braising, and deep-frying.
Classic Cantonese sauces are light, mellow and perhaps bland compared to the thicker, darker, and richer sauces of other Chinese cuisines. Spring onion, sugar, salt, soy sauce, rice wine, corn starch, vinegar, sesame oil, and other oils suffice to enhance flavor in most Cantonese cooking, though garlic is used heavily in some dishes, especially those in which internal organs, such as entrails, may emit unpleasant odors. Ginger, chili peppers, five-spice powder, powdered white pepper, star anise and a few other spices are used, but often sparingly.
Due to Guangdong's location on the southern coast of China, fresh live seafood is a specialty in Cantonese cuisine. Many authentic restaurants maintain live seafood tanks. From the Cantonese perspective, strong spices are added only to stale seafood to cover the rotting odor. The freshest seafood is odorless, and is best cooked by steaming. For instance, only a small amount of soy sauce, ginger, and spring onion is added to steamed fish. The light seasoning is used only to bring out the natural sweetness of the seafood.
There are some dishes that are prized within the culture. These dishes range from being medium price to very expensive. Most of these have been around in the Far East for a long time, while some are just barely becoming available around the world. Many of these prized animals have serious animal rights controversial issues such as finning of Shark cartilages due to increasing price demands.
Below is a very short list of what you should recognise from your visits to your local Chinese Eatery.
Hoisin sauce, Oyster sauce, Plum sauce, Sweet and sour sauce, Black bean paste, Fermented bean paste, Shrimp paste, Red vinegar, Master stock, Dried scallops, Fermented tofu, Fermented black beans, Preserve-salted fish/duck/pork, Century egg, Dried cabbage, Chinese sauerkraut, Dried small shrimp, Tofu skin, Pickled Chinese cabbage, Chinese steamed eggs, Cantonese fried rice, Sweet and sour pork, Steamed spare ribs with fermented black beans and chili pepper, Stir-fried vegetables with meat (e.g. chicken, duck, pork, beef, or itestines, Steamed frog legs on lotus leaf, Vegetables with oyster sauce, Wonton noodle, Chinese noodles with fish balls, beef balls, or fish slices, Lo mein, Pan-fried crispy noodles, Roasted duck/goose/pig, Beef entrails, Beef stew, White rice with Chinese sausage and cha siu,, beef stew, Crispy fried chicken, Seafood birdsnest, Roasted suckling pig, Taro duck, Roast young pigeon/squabs, Sour spare ribs, Salt and pepper rib/squid/shrimp, Red bean soup, Black sesame soup, Sweet potato soup, Mung bean soup, Sweet Chinese pastry, Coconut bar, Shaved Ice, Steamed egg custard, Steamed milk custard, Layered egg and beef over rice, Layered steak over rice, Tofu pot over rice, Pork spare ribs over rice, Steamed chicken over rice, Braised abalone, Jellyfish, Shark fin soup, Sea cucumber, Swallow's nest soup
How strange that I live in China but haven't had many of the above since leaving Australia!
There is a level of complexity associated with the cooking style and ingredients that fascinate westerners as well as bring stereotypes and misunderstandings. An example is the western commentary by Prince Philip commenting on Chinese eating habits to the World Wildlife Fund conference in 1986.
"If it has got four legs and it is not a chair, if it has two wings and it flies but is not an aeroplane, and if it swims and is not a submarine, the Cantonese will eat it.'
Despite having the quote presented to a notable organization, it has also appeared in books such as "The most stupid Words Ever Spoken" as it is deemed by some Westerners as a showcase of "lack of understanding" in foreign culinary traditions in the Western world. However some sources point out that this is a modern Chinese saying used by the Northern Chinese with reference to southern Chinese cuisine, especially Cantonese.
I can vouch for the above being a Chinese saying as when I tell many Northern Chinese that I lived in the south of China for three years many of them will answer with a variation of the above quote. But that is not to say that it is a quote used only by the Northern Chinese. In fact many southerners will proudly tell you the same about themselves!
Beers, Noodles and Cantonese Cuisine toya.....shane
The soundtrack to this entry was by World Hemispheres
The album was the delicious 'Fresh Global Sound'