Chengdu, once the capital of Shu during the Three Kingdom Period, has a long history and enjoys a splendid traditional culture. Being part of the time-honored culture, Chengdu culinary culture appeals to people from all over the world. Chengdu is ideal place fo fullfil your appetite for food. Concerning the taste of food, Shu people have the final say. Both of the sayings reflect the prosperous culinerary culture here and enthusiasm that people of Chengdu possess for food.
In Huayang Chronicle, Shu Kingdom is depicted as land of abundance: fishes breed in rivers that flow through mountains and forests; fruits grow in fields that are flourishing all year round. At that time people of Shu already used seasonings as pickle, salt, ginger, pepper and so forth. The unearthed relics display the diversified and refined kitchen utensils of the Warring States Period. From these you could see the distance resource of Sichuan culinary culture. During the Qin Dynasty, Chengdu, as a cultural and politcal center, enjoyed a relative high level of cuisine in terms of basic foodstuffs, seasonings and cooking methods, which all contributed to the establishment of Sichuan cuisine.
The development of the catering industry resulted in the increases of professional catering stores and stuff as well as the improvement of cooking techniques. People's desire of more diversified and delicious food provided another impetus to develop sichuan cuisine. Zuo Si, a literary master of the west Jin Dynasty, described the cuisine and feast conditions of that time: according to tradition, during the transitional period between winter and spring, feast will be arranged in court at a chosen time on an auspicious day to treat the distinguished guests.
The reputation of Chengdu culinary cluture gains over a long historical process. It is because the variety of produce offered by fertile land and the interaction between distinct dietaty habits of different parts of China have all played a part in shaping its characters. Chengdu food consists of Sichuan cusine, snacks and hotpot. Located in Chengdu, there are 23 traditionally-branked restaruants (with 79 franchise stores), over 30 famous snacks licensed by the national government, over 100 noted restaruants licensed by The municipal governments and thousands of snackes licensed by the local government. Sichuan cuisine with three thousand dishes and sereral hundred well-know dishes ranks the first among the four main schools of Chinese cuisine. The most impressive feature of Sichuan cuisine is the so called “one dish, one style; a hundred dishes, a hundred flavors”.
Chengdu is a unique city with its peculia culture, open and comprehensive. While experiencing the distinctive flavor of local food, you can easily take a culinary tour around the country and even in the whole world here in Chengdu. Other schools of Chinese cuisine (such as Lu, Yue, Huaiyang) and exotic cuisine (such as Japanese, Korean, western and so on) are equally accessible.
Sichuan Cuisine ranks the first among the four main schools of chinese cuisine. Chengdu, as the originating location of Sichuan cuisine, enjoys the prestige of “orthodox Sichuan Cuisine”. Sichuan cuisine gains its fame for being extremely hot and peppery as well as being sweet, salty, sour and bitter, which altogether compose the six basic tastes. By the flexible mixture of different seasonings. Sichuan cuisine has developed varied flavors (fish-flavored, home-style, vinegar-peppered, chili-peppered, litchi-alavored and stange-tasted, for instance) and dozens of cooking methods (of which the most well-known is dry-fired and saut etc.) After generations of innovation, sichuan cuisine now has more than 3,000 dishes, of which hundreds are renowned. Besides traditional Sichuan cuisine, new-sichuan cuisine which attaches great innovation while inheriting the tradiotion, is quite comprehensive.
Chengdu Snacks, by virtue of its long history, are diversified and have their distinguishing features. According to statisftics, Chengdu has at least over 500 different kinds of established sancks and over 5,000 stores that serve snacks. Chengdu snacks are divided into four categories according to the main ingredients: wheat flour, rice, meat and vegetable,miscellaneous. Most of the sancks are made of wheat, rice,and miscellaneous grain powder. They are exquisite in appearance and refined in seasoning. Most snacks have been developed by the street vendors, which determines their characteristic of being ecomomical and fold-friendly. Long Wonlon, Zhong Boiled dumplings and Fuqi Lung slices are the examples of famous traditional brands.
Owing to the different formulas, Chengdu hotpot condiments have a great variey of tastes: double-tasted, three-tasted, Chinese medical hotpot, fish-head hotpot, seafood hotpot, Hundreds sorts of foodstuff are boiled by diners. In recent years many hotpot restaurants with elegant atmosphere began booming in Chengdu and then all over the country.
As the gourmet capital, Chengdu embrances gourmet food from all over the world. It is also a reflection of Chengdu's comprehension as a modernized city and Chengdu people's love for food, here people from different parts of the world can easily find their favorite cuisine.
Over a long period of time, Chengdu catering industry have inherited and developed thousands of dishes, of which over a hundred are widely known. Braised Bamboo Shoots in Brown Sauce, Chicken Tofu with pickles, Zhangcha Duck, Poached Cabbage Garlic-Flavored Fish, Fish-Flavored Eggplant Cake, Changsheng duck, Dry-Braised Fish, Duck with Worm Grass, Mapo Tou Fu, Boiled Eel in Chili sauce, Gongbao Diced Chickens, Dry-Fried Beef Shreds, Fish-Flavored Chicken, Home-Style Chicken Stomach, and Fuqi Lung Slices are all “Famous Dishes in China” liscensed by the Ministry of Internal Trade. There are also dishes innovated by restaurants, recommended by diners and appraised by prfessioals as “famous Chengdu dishes” and “Famous Sichuan Dishes”. For example, Meat served in Crock, Crucian Carp with Bean Jelly, Fu Rong Beef Fillets, Twice-Cooked Pork, Meat with Cherry, Pig's Elbow Stewed with Red Date, Beef Tail Soup with Pigeon's Eggs, Pig's Feet Served in Crock. All these dishes, pleasing to see, savory to smell and delicious to taste, make chengdu a veritable place to fullfil your appetite.
The development of Chengdu culineray culture is indispensable from the gourmet devotees, especially the chefs who prepare delicacies for diners. Chengdu is now the gourmet capital with over a thousand chefs of exclusive grade and more than 20 natioanl culinary masters. These culinary artists, who preparing delicious food, are the most important parts of Chengdu culinary culture.
Chengdu food Festivals
The gourmet festivals in Chengdu orginated from the “Gan Hua hui” (Flower-Viewing Festival) during the Tang and Song Dynasties. It is said that the fifteenth day of the second month in lunar calendar is the birthday of flowers. That is why people in Chengdu held the yearly event. Flower Festival, in Qingyang Palace each February since the Tang Dynasty. At this festival people can not only appreciate the beauty of a great variety of flowers, but also indulge themselves in the hundreds of snacks of different places, and enjoy exciting folk shows. Later the festival attracted merchants, troupes, and circuses which make the festival more appealing.
After the people's republic of China was founded, the city of Chengdu has been holding flower festivals each year since 1951. The festival lasts one month to one and half months. Besides the exhibition of flowers and trees, local snacks also find their places here. Many famous restaurants set up their branbces here, San Da Pao and Dongzikou Cold Curd and Cold Noodles became the attendants' favorite snacks.
Viewing flowers and at the same time enjoying snacks have already become a custom of chengdu. The snack exhibition on flower festivals is the prototype of the Chengdu Gourmet Festival. The China International Gourmet and Tourism Festival since 2004, the yearly china internationl gourmet and tourism festival, which sponsored by Chengdu Municipality Government and China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, has chosen their locations here. On the baisis of the original Chengdu exhibition categories have been enriched, the occupying area has been enalrged, sanitary conditions have been advanced, as a result, the number of attendants increased. The China Internationl Gourmet and Tourism festival combine to offer Chengdu people and tourists a joyous gourmet experience. In addition to the municipal gourmet festival, the towns, districts and counties under the jurisdiction of the municipal government also have their local gourmet festivals. For example, the yearly Xinjin River Delicacy Festival, Qingbaijiang Muslim Gourmet Festival, Chengdu Beer Festival in Dujiangyan, Shuangliu Mutton Gourmet Festival, Yunya Rabbit Gourmet Festival and so forth. Thanks to the influence of the great variety of gourmet festivals, the Ministry of Commerce dicided to hold the first China Catering Expo here in Chengdu. In the year 2005, the china international Gourmet and Tourism festival and the China catering expo draw up the curtain on the same day. Guests from all over the world got together in Chengdu, making it the most influential enent of the chengdu catering industry.