Myth Busters- A little bit of Chinese, seasoned with delicious truth
A myth is an exaggerated idea, an idealized conception that is socially handed down like traditions, conditioning generations to believe in a false belief usually by force of habit. Myths make us comfortable, when they are great tales of magic, feeding the inner child in us, or they scare us to not explore the true nature of things. Either way, myths create ripples of change, started by word of mouth.
Let us now delve into the many myths about Chinese food, and you might be surprised by what you find here. We have come to believe that these popular myths can fool even the most perceptive person.
Chinese food does not satiate the appetite
It is commonly believed that Chinese food leaves you hungry even after a full meal. This is a notion that arises from the mysterious past of Chinese cuisine. In the olden days, the Chinese prepared their food in much smaller portions in comparison to many Western cultures. The cooking process would lead to a fire in your belly even after you’ve had your share of yummy food. But that has changed. With the evolution of Chinese cuisine, the portion sizes have grown in leaps and bounds. It’s so nutritious and rich in protein, fibre and flavours that now you have to take your time to enjoy your share of fine Chinese food.
They say dairy products give you congestion
If myths are to be believed, too much milk could make you feel congested since dairy products promote mucous production. But guess what? Turns out myths are not to be believed! Scientists debunked this myth with a series of studies. It has since been proved that dairy products have no consistent effect on mucous production, and the sickness might have to do with lactose intolerance and specific allergies.
Do you think you can lose weight with spicy food?
Stop such irrational thoughts now. You might experience an increased heart-rate and sweating after consuming spicy food, but we’re sorry to disappoint you – spicy food will not make you thin. It might increase your metabolism but only so slightly, so chili is not the only way to go for bidding calories goodbye. Get back on the treadmill.
To soy or not to soy, in soya sauce?
Here’s a new myth for you : Soy sauce always contains soy
When the label says ‘soy sauce’, it must be made out of soy, right? That’s what we’d like to believe, but, we’re wrong again. Even though most of the soy sauces produced in China or Japan are brewed from soy beans, some of the stuff they sell in America has absolutely nothing to do with soy. Soy sauce in the little plastic packets usually does not contain any soy, but a mix of syrup and food colouring. So watch out when you’re shopping for the extra bit of perfection for your kitchen!
General Tso was a curator of great Oriental recipes
General Tso’s chicken, a celebrated dish of the West, is largely unknown in China. In fact, when investigators visited Tso’s home town in Hunan Province and spoke to his descendants, they had never heard of such a recipe. Beat that! General Tso, also known as Zuǒ Zōngtáng, is not actually famous for cooking up awesome chicken dishes, but for playing a large role in quashing the Taiping Rebellion, the largest civil war in history. And here’s a fun fact : Nobody knows exactly how someone decided to bestow his name to a recipe or even who was the original author of the recipe. One of the claims involves Chef Peng Chang-kuei who moved to New York City in the early-1970s to open a restaurant in which he supposedly introduced General Tso’s chicken to the good people of America as a “typical Hunan dish”. What makes this myth even more surprising is that when Peng later opened a restaurant in Hunan, the restaurant was forced to shut down because the General Tso’s chicken was too sweet for locals.
The Chinese love a generous helping of broccoli on their plate
The average Chinese cookbook has delicious dishes served with the extra goodness of broccoli, and it’s not because of rich Chinese traditions. Kai-lan, a vegetable popularized as Chinese broccoli, resembles kale and adorns authentic Chinese dishes. Although kai-lan is a preferred choice in the kitchens of China, Broccoli is not a typical everyday food here. It usually finds its rightful place in Western kitchens and fusion or inspired versions of Chinese cuisine.
Adding more fun to the mix is the fact that fake and exotic Chinese food, such as General Tso’s chicken, is usually served with Western broccoli.
Fortune cookies originated from the ancient Chinese food trails
Surprise, surprise! When it comes to origin, fortune cookies are as alien to Chinese history as apples are to oranges. It’s thought that they originate from Japan where cookies were part of a tradition of random fortunes written on strips of paper in shrines and temples. However, the supposed ancestors of fortune cookies looked and tasted rather differently. The cookies were popularized by Americans after Japanese immigrants gave them a taste of these baked wonders, before World War I. The craze over the fortune cookies reached unimaginable heights when the recipes reached Chinese restaurants and by the late 50s an approximate number of 250 million cookies were being churned out on a yearly basis. There’s further irony in the story of these ever so “Chinese” cookies that might not only shock you but make you laugh out loud. In the ’90s, an America-based company tried to take the lucrative business of fortune cookies into China. They soon retreated, since the Chinese considered fortune cookies to be “too American” for their liking.
On that hilarious note, how many of these myths about Chinese food have you believed?