2,000 years of cooking
With a population of 1.2 billion, there are many mouths to feed in China. The region's vast history and geography can be felt throughout the many facets of Chinese cuisine. The peppers, garlic, ginger and onions now considered classic components of Chinese cooking were originally delivered to the region by Buddhist missionaries two thousand years ago.
Traditionally, Chinese culinary characteristics are divided by region. The northern portion of China has a distinct Mongolian influence, characterized by the nomadic simplicity of the fire pot. Since rice is not grown in the north, there is more emphasis on noodles, soybeans and breads. To the south, Cantonese cooking evolved in a rich agricultural region; and local cuisine highlights fresh fruit and seafood. Spicy foods prevail in the western mountain regions of Szechuan and Hunan.