A Bite of China - Ep 1 - Gifts From Nature Explore in China - Food

Gifts from Nature (自然的馈赠)

China has a large population and the richest and most varied natural landscapes in the world. Plateaus, forests, lakes, coastlines, These various geographical features and climate conditions have helped to form and preserve widely different species. No other country has so many potential food sources as China. By collecting, fetching, digging, hunting and fishing, people have acquired abundant gifts from nature. Traveling through the four seasons, we'll discover a story about nature and the people behind delicious foods.

The first kind of food is matsutake under the pine needles. It is a precious and edible fungus, only surviving in certain high-altitude mountain areas that are free of pollution. We can usually only find one matsutake per kilometer. Heavy rain is a gift from nature. Everyone works hard.

On the menu of traditional Chinese cuisine, there is another dainty food growing in mountains. The cubes of fresh winter bamboo shoots, after being cooked in deep fat with various spices,will be a widely popular dish in Jiangsu and Zhejiang Provinces. In China, many people rely on bamboo forests.The winter bamboo shoot hides in the earth, and is hard to find on the surface.Chinese chefs love it because it is single-grained, able to easily absorb the flavor of added garnishes. In particular, it can help attain a flavor balance when being cooked with greasy fatty meat.

Besides fresh food materials, some spices used to season delicacies also come from nature.In Nuodeng Mountain area in northern Dali, (Dali, Yunnan) The eye-catching red sandstones are the home to many natural salt wells. The salt is indispensable for making a delicacy in the mountain. The potassium in the salt is good for health. With a mild taste, the salt is perfect for making hams. The mold helps weigh a certain amount of salt. The precise weighing measure proves that salt used to be the most important commodity here. The good ham was salted years ago, and has been air-dried completely. Over the course of three years, the fat in the ham oxidized,and created a unique flavor. The ham will be cut into parts before cooking. Each part can be cooked differently.The wet and warm climate helps ferment the hams, it's a gift from nature.People today no longer take salt seriously. Advanced transportation and technology have make salt common and cheap. But Nuodeng salt is still a gift bestowed by nature.

Another gift from nature is the fish and the helpful environment.The fish head dish is a favorite specialty of Chinese people. High quality fish heads are more expensive than fresh fish. At such a low temperature, fish keep still. Traveling long distances within one day,the people who depend on the sea finally received generous gifts from nature once again. But pelagic fishing only runs months a year. There's no time to be lost. The fishermen have a unique way to celebrate the harvest: A rich feast of fish. The decocted mackerel can retain its original flavor after being cooked alone. Chizi fish tastes good after being braised with garlic. Shell fish has the fine quality of making soup with sour bamboo shoot. The dishes retain the original flavor of seafood. Only time can see how human beings will adapt to the changing ocean. When we enjoy delicacies, we should appreciate the people who make this happen through their hard work and wisdom. Nature tends to be generous and forthcoming with her rewards for man. (Source - wikipedia)

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