Chinese food varies by region. In northern China, Mongolian influences are evident especially in the use of the fire pot. Rice is not grown in the north, so noodles, soybeans and breads are used more often. In the mountainous regions to the west, spicy foods are more prevalent. These forms are Szechuan and Hunan. In the south, Cantonese styles prevail. Fresh fruit and seafood are popular. Steamed rice is an important part of Chinese food.
The Chinese believe that food can affect one's health. Eating the proper food can help prevent disease as well as heal. In Cantonese cooking, it is important that yin and yang foods and cooking methods are used in balance. By taking into consideration factors such as the individual's age, digestive system, absorbing power, and metabolism, optimal health is achieved. Foods also symbolize different things. For example, clams represent wealth and prosperity.
Schmierkuchen is a German-Bohemian cottage cheese cake. Using sugar, flour, shortening, and yeast, a pie crust is created and allowed to rise. The dough is then rolled flat and placed inside a pie plate, again being left to rise. When the crust is double in size, a mixture of cottage cheese and butter is placed in the crust and a garnish of fruit is smeared on top. Most often the fruit of choice is prunes that have been pitted, mashed, and sweetened to taste. The cheesecake is then baked until it is golden brown and served with many summer meals.
A dish known as "sour cabbage" probably does not sound appetizing, but many Germans and German-Americans find it rather enjoyable. To make sauerkraut, one thinly shreds cabbage which is then mixed with salt and placed into a large container (barrels were used originally). The container is covered with cheesecloth or muslin, then with a heavy lid to ensure that the cabbage is not exposed to the air. The cabbage should be left to ferment in its own juices for 3 to 6 weeks, although brine may need to be added if it is starting to dry out.
After it has fermented for several weeks, the sauerkraut is then ready to be eaten. It is simmered on the stove and is often prepared with sausage or pork and accompanied by dumplings.
Spices are an important part of cooking in India. Common spices are turmeric, cardamon, ginger, coriander, nutmeg and poppy seed, which are blended together. Vegetable dishes are more common in India than in Europe. Part of the reason for this is the influence of Hinduism. Hindus are traditionally vegetarian. Muslims have influenced the meat dishes of India. Typical meats are "Mughlai food, kabobs, rich Kormas (curries) and nargisi koftas (meat-balls), the biryani (a layered rice and meat preparation), rogan josh, and preparations from the clay oven or tandoor like tandoori rotis and andoori chicken" 2
Differences exist between the south and north parts of India. Vegetable dishes are more common in the south, and rice is the staple food. In the north, rice is often substituted by breads.
Japanese food emphasizes pure, clean flavors, and spices are used rarely. Due to influences from Buddhism, meals are made up of foods with five different colors and flavors. The five flavors included are sweet, spicy, salty, bitter and sour. The five colors included are yellow, black, white, green, and red. Meals are also meant to balance and create harmony between the artistic presentation of the food, the selection of the serving piece, and the taste of the food itself. Meals are to be eaten slowly. Noodles in soups and salads are common for lunch. Hashi, or chopsticks are used to eat food in Japan.
Some traditional Japanese foods are, sushi, steamed vegetables, rice and green tea. Fugu is a poisonous puffer fish that is a delicacy. When properly prepared, the toxins in fugu create a tingling effect after being eaten. Foods are also prepared seasonally. In winter, mandarin oranges are common. Cherry-blossom rice is prepared during spring and in September, abalone, cucumbers, and bamboo shoots are made.
Typical foods vary by region in Italy. There are geographical and climatic differences throughout Italy that result in different products being available to cook with. Italy has mountainous regions and plains. Temperature also varies greatly, some regions are among the coldest in Italy while others have mild climates along the Mediterranean. Pasta is typical in both areas, but the way the pasta is prepared varies. In the north, eggs are used when making the pasta, while in the south they are not. Also, including meats in the meal is more common in the north as the plains allow for farming and keeping animals. The temperature in the south allows for the production of olives and tomatoes and these items are more common in the south. Cheese is also very important to Italian cooking. Parmesan cheese has a long history of popularity in Italy.
Mexican Food originated from the combination of the foods of indigenous Mexican people with Spanish foods. Chiles and tortillas are important to Mexican food. Chiles are used for seasoning and numerous varieties exist. Chiles come in a variety of forms: red, black, green and yellow, and fresh, dried or tinned. Tortillas are made from corn or wheat and are often used as eating utensils. Food is scooped onto the tortillas and then eaten. Most of the dishes that people think of as Mexican are antojitos. Antojitos include enchiladas, tacos, tamales, quesadillas, chalupas, and tostadas that evolved directly from the original Indian cooking.
Muslims follow dietary laws that are similar to Jewish kosher regulations. Foods that Muslims can eat are called Halal. Prohibited foods are called Haram and questionable foods are called Mashbooh. Swine and pork products, as well as meat not properly slaughtered or slaughtered in any name other than Allah are Haram. Carnivorous animals and birds or prey are also Haram. Haram animals include pig, dog, donkey, carnivores, monkeys, cats, lions, frogs, crocodiles, turtles, worms, flies, cockroaches, owls, and eagles. Alcohol, coffee, tea and other drugs are Haram. Halal foods that have become contaminated by contact with prohibited foods are also Haram.
Fasting is also important. Fasting is a way to earn the approval of Allah, wipe out previous sins and understand the suffering of the poor. Fasting is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Muslims fast during the month of Ramadan and voluntary fasting on Mondays and Thursdays is also common. Muslims are encouraged to only eat to two thirds of capacity.
Ethiopia is a mountainous country. This has helped keep it isolated. The food of Ethiopia is therefore uniquely Ethiopian. Ethiopian food is characterized by the spices used. However, grains such as sorghum, millet, teff, and wheat grow well in the temperate climate, and honey is commonly used. Berbere is an essential ingredient in Ethiopian cooking. It is a red paste made of spices and herbs. Flavored butter called niter kebbeh is also important. Niter kebbeh is flavored with onions, garlic, ginger and spices. Wat, or stew is an important traditional Ethiopian food. It can be made with chicken, beef, fish, or be vegetarian. It contains paprika and is very spicy. Wat is eaten with injera, an Ethiopian flatbread made from teff. Coffee is also important in Ethiopia. Ethiopians say it originated in the highlands of Kaffa in southwestern Ethiopia.