Who wants to waste time cooking a meal? That's time that could be much better spent reading Westworld theories on Reddit. You could buy a robot to cook your meal for you, like one very lazy, but very clever man in China created. But a much cheaper option is to order takeout, and nothing hits the spot like Chinese food.
You might think you know Chinese food - fortune cookies, egg rolls, fried rice, General Tso’s chicken. But guess what? You know nothing, Jon Snow. According to a chef and travel expert - and all 1.4 billion people living in China - the American version of Chinese food is not really authentic. I know, it's shocking. America's usually right about everything, like the Imperial System. (It's far superior to that stupid metric system.)
Here are six ways Americans get Chinese food completely wrong:
1. We think Chinese food is homogeneous
There's not just one type of Chinese food. China's a huge country, and like any huge country, the food varies depending on the location. After all, in America, you don't expect the cuisine to be same in New Orleans as in Chicago, do you?
"There's a lot more meat in the food in the northern regions [of China] and much greater spiciness in the central/southwestern provinces," said Matthew Lubin, a writer for BoozeFoodTravel, in an interview with Insider. "And then in places like Xinjiang (far northwest), the cuisine shares a lot of flavor with Turkish food."
2. We think most dishes focus on vegetables
Americans think Chinese food focuses on vegetables, but that is another misconception. Lubin says that in authentic Chinese cuisine, there is often meat mixed in with the veggies. In fact, one of the most popular tofu dishes is mapo tofu (pictured above), but be warned, vegans and vegetarians! Mapo tofu actually contains ground pork.
3. We think fortune cookies are dessert
I know it's fun to crack open open those rock-hard flavorless crackers and read an extremely vague aphorism, but no, fortune cookies are not authentic Chinese dessert. According to an article on Fancy Fortune Cookie's website, they're a made-up American gimmick. After World War II, Americans visited Chinese restaurants and expected something for dessert. The staff improvised creating something familiar (a cookie) mixed with something exotic (a fortune).
If you want an authentic Chinese dessert, try red bean soup, almond cakes, egg tarts or rice cakes.
4. We think stir fry and General Tso’s are the epitome of Chinese food
General Tso's Chicken and sweet and sour pork are staples of Chinese restaurants in America. But in China? Not so much. In fact, similar to the fortune cookie, they were created specifically to cater to American taste buds. "General Tso's Chicken is a recent invention by a Taiwanese chef and named for a general who took control of Xinjiang Province, and it was never on a menu in China," explained Lubin.
5. We think soy sauce makes dishes Chinese
While soy sauce is a common ingredient in China, they doesn't soak every dish in it. And if they do use soy sauce, they don't dump it on white rice. Yeah, it makes the white rice taste better, but it's not supposed to taste good. It's supposed to taste bland, to complement the flavors of everything else. In fact, according to Spoon University, there are many Chinese dishes that don't even use soy sauce. So chill out on the soy sauce!
6. We think takeout is "authentic" Chinese
As delicious as your local Chinese restaurant is, it is not "authentic" Chinese. So, by all means, eat it and enjoy a taste of culture. Just don't confuse your meal with the real thing. What you're eating is American Chinese, not authentic Chinese. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)
Well, I'm going to book a flight to China and eat some authentic Chinese food. It beats cooking a meal.