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What does the word “Chinese food” signify to you? Sesame chicken, crab rangoon, and that dirty and shabby corner restaurant where you order those late night hang-over munchies? Well…that’s not that kind of food I’m talking about.

Every Chinese takes great pride in our food and the Chinese food culture is as rich as our heritage. There are 8 major regional cuisines in China and hundreds and hundreds of dishes within each cuisine. (crab rangoon and fortune cookies are not included!) It’s not surprising to find a vast menu consisting of hundreds of dishes in a street fast food stand. Our culture revolves so much around food that there’s an old Chinese saying that goes: “民以食为天,” (roughly translates to “People see food as high as the heaven”). In fact, in the old Beijing, instead of asking “how are you?” neighbors will greet each other by asking “have you eaten?”

Chinese food is so diverse that it can overwhelm the first timers. But what seems to intimidate the diners even more (aside from the pig intestines, read bean ice cream and durian candy), is the names.

You ask: Why can’t “Yuxiang pork” just be called “thin pork slices, carrots, and pepper stir fried in a spicy, sweet and sour sauce?

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