Changing Rice Bowl: Economic Development and Diet in China by Elizabeth Leppman

By Elizabeth Leppman

The e-book bargains with a subject of perennial curiosity to chinese language and non-Chinese alike: chinese language meals. chinese language tradition is phenomenally food-oriented, and non-Chinese are thinking about what chinese language humans in China really devour, as contrasted with foodstuff in ever-popular chinese language restaurants.

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Extra resources for Changing Rice Bowl: Economic Development and Diet in China

Sample text

C. It crossed the oceans to Eurasia and Africa, as a result of the great Columbian Exchange (Crosby, 1972), reaching China by the middle of the sixteenth century (Ho, 1955; Simoons, 1991), and knowledge of it spread rapidly. It could be grown on slopes that were too steep for terracing into rice paddies, The Chinese Dietary Regime 35 such as the west and southwest of China, where its introduction allowed the population to spread (McNeill, 1991: 46, 54-55). In Qing times, it enabled migration into the hilly lands of Yunnan, Guizhou, and Sichuan from the overpopulated Yangtze Valley (Spence, 1977).

Among those who accept change, timing varies from early changers, to moderates who must see at least preliminary evidence of the benefits of the innovation, to late changers who require proof. Finally, there are always some people in a group who will not or do not adopt the innovation or change. In any case, if the new food eventually becomes widespread and is no longer distinctive, it loses its role as a marker of status (May, 1996: 61). An individual's or group's acceptance of new foods depends on physiological hunger and thirst, as well as on evaluation of the new food in terms of what is experienced through the senses and the acquired attitudes toward it (Schutz, 1988).

While northern Chinese diets show somewhat less variety, the fan-cai structure of Chinese meals has enabled the introduction of new ingredients, without disrupting the general dietary plan. Thus, the incorporation of new foods has been fairly easy, especially in times when the basic food supply is assured. The Chinese Dietary Regime 41 Meats As mentioned, the Chinese traditionally eat comparatively little meat. Their largely vegetarian diet and eating grain directly, rather than feeding it to animals, is part of the explanation for their ability to feed such a dense population on so litde farmland.

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