Ancient Bronze

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Frequently Asked Questions...

Can someone give me food suggestions please?

I'm doing a project for the Zhou Dynasty civilization right and I'm having trouble finding some food that they ate back then. (I have to make it) So can you please give me one suggestions? And if you can't find any, can you give me some Ancient Chinese food? Thanks :D oh and at least two foods please! ^ ^ (lemme know if it's in the dynasty or just somewhere in ancient china) Thanks!! :3

Best Answer...


Ancient Cuisine

People of the Shang and Western Zhou dynasties highly valued their way of dining.

Delicious and nutritious food was regarded as the basis of ordinary life.

Inscriptions engraved on ancient bronze items showed rice and wheat were the major staple foods since the Shang Dynasty.

Shi Jing (The Book of Songs), one of the seminal works of the Chinese civilization, featured records of growing grain as well as grain processing.

According to Li Ji (Records of Ritual), one of the five early Chinese classics, people at that time had begun to make cake with flour.

Generally, the staple food was either boiled in a li or steamed in a yan.

As far as meat went, archaeological findings showed Shang people enjoyed a wide variety of animals including horse, cow, chicken, pig, sheep and deer. Of course, only the upper-class was able to enjoy these delicacies.

For common people, however, fish was probably the best food they could attain.

Over a dozen kinds of fish were mentioned in Shi Jing.

Fish-shaped jade items were often excavated, which proved the prominent role of fish in people's daily diets.

Chinese began to consider food preparation as an art over 3,000 years ago.

People of the Shang and Western Zhou dynasties set forth culinary standards that are still followed today, such as the practice of cutting food into bite size pieces during preparation and not at the table.

They stressed both the food and the culinary vessels must be cleaned completely before cooking.

They also decreed that harmony among ingredients with respect to their size, shape, fragrance, taste and texture should be the goal of the chef. Diets should be changed with different seasons.

To gain a balanced diet, vegetables and fruits were assorted with the main dishes.

Seasoning varieties were also dazzling with sweet, hot, sour or spicy flavours, which made the dish tasty and healthy. Sauces made of meat, fish and oyster were also popular.

On the imperial palace menu was the drinking side of the dining experience.

Artifacts produced during the Shang Dynasty consisted mainly of wine vessels. It shows the important role wine drinking played in the lives of Shang people.

According to historical documents, the best wine at the time was made with millet.

Historians argued that the imperial class was so fond of a drop it led to the collapse of the Shang Dynasty.

Rulers of the Western Zhou Dynasty learned from Shang people and restricted drinking.

Ancient Chinese were also concerned about the freshness of food and worked out effective ways to preserve food.

They built large underground "Lingyin" (cold storage) areas, which were chilled enough to keep food fresh in winter. Salting meat, fish and pickling vegetables was another effective method.

This article first appeared in 2003's third issue of Collections, a Chinese language monthly magazine.

(China Daily March 13, 2003)