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Effect of Han Dynasty on Traditional Chinese Culture: Analytical Essay

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The Chinese culture has a deep affection for food, which means this is a part of their everyday routine that they take seriously. At every meal dishes served contain deep meaning and spiritual purpose within the Chinese belief system. Including ingredients: vegetables, spices, and meat each holds meaning. For example, rice means increasing prosperity, garlic symbolizes eternity, and bamboo shoots are a sign of wealth. The Chinese cooking system is best described as simple and clean. According to Wiki, a nutritious diet is essential to leading a happy and healthy life. From thousands of years ago, Chinese cuisine has developed to become one of the world’s most unique aromas of food and dieting. A major impact that happened to China’s society was its expansion during the Han Culture. Which meant expanding lands lead to new climate zones in China. The Han Dynasty began with a peasant revolt against the Qin Emperor. He was later killed, so the new Emperor Gaozu established a service where he educated men about to help him run the empire. The period of the Han Dynasty was a time of invention for the country. During this time, land areas were divided into tropical and subarctic. With this expansion of land led to new ingredients for eating. In the North, the staple of food was millet that was grounded up into wheat. Due to the expense, many lower-class citizens ate noodles, pancakes, and dumplings from wheat. While the higher class people ate these foods but also included meat. In the South, the staple food was rice because it was much easier to grow due to the wet environment. For all classes, many caught fish and always steamed or stewed their food. The Han Dynasty played a major role in developing modern-day China (“Chinese Cuisine”).

The Han dynasty was the generator for how traditional ancient Chinese dieting is used today. All meals in the Chinese culture contain two important components to their meals. One is a carbohydrate source, this is typically rice, noodles, or mantou. “For the most Nutritious noodles, choose 100 percent buckwheat soba noodles, whole-grain udon noodles, brown rice noodles, and Shiraki noodles,” Dr. Wong says in the article “Eating Healthy Chinese Food”. Soba noodles are made from wholegrain buckwheat flour, making them a good source of protein, fiber, potassium, and B vitamins” (“Eating Healthy Chinese Food”). The second component of there meals is accompanying dishes of vegetables, fish, and meat. Traditionally, there is soup served at the end of meals to satiate appetites. In China there is no silverware, so during the Han dynasty, they created something that affects all of China’s culture. The invention was chopsticks, the first use of them was for cooking, and stirring the fire, but not typically used for eating. Alternatively, their belief system states that typical utensils: spoons, forks, and knives are seen as weapons. In China, dining with chopsticks is the traditional etiquette. Eating with chopsticks forces you to eat slower and mindfully, which often leads to you feeling full quicker with less food. Using chopsticks forces you to eat each bite smaller, as more time is taken for your brain to signal when you’re full. This explains that you are more likely to feel fuller after eating less. This is due to the smaller bites you consume slower. The Chinese have a notion that eating with chopsticks is kinder for your body and overall health (Banna, Jinan C, et al.).

A Chinese meal is served one by one in the middle of the table. All bowls are shared with others seated at the table. The Chinese culture is famous for their family style of serving. A study done by Harvard says over 70% of Americans eat their own food portion alone today (“Healthy Eating Plate”). The unwritten rule is to have three separate dishes, one main dish, and two sides to accompany it. Most Chinese people (94%) have three meals a day, while 5% have two meals a day. However, this varies from rural cities and urbanism cities of China. The time of breakfast for the Chinese is generally from 6:00 am and 8:00 am. Not many people take breakfast and lunch together as brunch. In the Northern regions of China, people usually eat bread, porridge, noodles, and fried fitter also including dumplings. Most Chinese do not have fruits for breakfast. People usually have lunch from 11:30 am and 1:00 pm. In smaller communities of China, people go home for lunch. In the larger areas, due to the far distance and limited time, many go out for lunch at restaurants nearby. Not many bring a lunch box from home, which is prepared and packed the day before. People usually have dinner between 6:30 pm and 7:30 pm. In urban areas, dinner is the only chance to sit together and have a family meal. It generally takes 1-2 hours to make dinner (“Healthy Eating Plate”).

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In China's society, tea and water are preferred over soft drinks. At any restaurant in China, these are both free. Tea in China dates back to Emperor Shen Nung’s time around 2732 B.C. There was a legend about the creation of the drink during Nung’s time. The theory is that the emperor poisoned himself 72 times, and a leaf drifted into his mouth. Once the leaf tickled his throat, the Emperor was cured. The false accusation about the theory, it doesn’t necessarily cure diseases. The tea plant discovered is the same one that is grown around the world today. It was originally consumed as a vegetable or cooked with grain portage. Tea became known since 1500 years ago it shifted from food to a drink. This was when people realized the combination of moisture and heat could create a tasty drink out of leafy green. According to China Culture, members of the young generation should show their respect to members of the older by offering a cup of tea. In the past, people of the higher class received tea from the lower class. This rule has now become a blur in Chinese culture (“How Important the Tea Was in Ancient China?”). The standard in China became to heat tea, pack it into portable cakes, and ground it into powder. A study shows that tea is a killer for weight loss and maintenance of skin, hair, teeth, and organ health (Khan, Naghma, and Hasan Mukhtar).

Around the world, fermented foods and beverages are a part of very few people’s diets. One of the most important outcomes of food fermentation is the vitamins, minerals, and bioactive compounds found in them. This type of food is transformed into probiotics or good bacteria. There is a bacteria that lives in our gut always. Each particle works together to help us with digestion and accumulate more nutrients. Overall bacteria play a role in making sure our immune system is clean. Many modern diets are high in refined sugars, which means these sugars are busy feeding bad bacteria. The solution is eliminating high sugar food, and instead including more probiotic-rich fermented foods to keep your gut healthy. In China, popular fermented foods and drinks include; miso, kefir, sauerkraut, and kombucha. For example, fermentation breaks down the lactose in milk to simpler sugar. This helps make yogurt and cheese easier to digest. The gut and brain work together to sustain your mood and behavior. The anatomy of the gut is lined with neurons that can include our emotions and feelings. Probiotic bacteria is contributed to healthy gut and body systems, they are also connected to a healthier mind and thinking (“Health Benefits of Fermenting”).

In conclusion, the Chinese ways of consuming food and the culture is contains are still around today. There are elements from the dynasties that shaped the way a majority of Chinese are living. According to Wiki, “Chinese culture is one of the world’s oldest cultures, originating thousands of years ago” (“Chinese Culture”). Since the times of dynasties, many Chinese believe that providing nutrition to the body can cure disease. When you are not seriously ill, your disease can be cured by eating the right food. Soon after if the food doesn’t work you can turn to medicine. The philosophical thinking in Chinese food culture is represented by the Yin and Yang system. This represents two aspects of the human body, meaning the five elements are divided into five categories: hot, warm, neutral, cool, and cold. Eating warm and hot foods can promote the Yang to the body while eating cool promotes Yin in the human body. Chinese believe that their diet should be adapted to the natural environment they are living in. In a way that releases balance and harmony to nature. Chinese have a strong unique foundation of their cuisine culture.

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Effect of Han Dynasty on Traditional Chinese Culture: Analytical Essay. (2022, September 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 24, 2024, from
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