ethnic food

ethnic food
As in other cosmopolitan nations, clearly differentiated ‘ethnic food’ has been incorporated into Chinese urban life for centuries, but only some ethnicities’ food is represented as desirable or adventurous. Mongolian, Korean and Japanese food, food represented by named and known societies, has been popular for a long time, especially in north China where going out to eat Mongolian barbecue or Korean dishes may punctuate an otherwise culinarily Chinese life. The food of some ethnic groups is scorned as inedible and disgusting, such as the yak-butter tea of Tibetans or the coarse grains and sweet potatoes of poor ethnic groups in the southwest. Ethnic food serves as a marker of ethnicity in ethnic theme parks, as in Xishuang Banna, in southern Yunnan. Certain food, such as the sour moss of the Banna Tai (Dai), is known as the prototypical food of various groups.
The ten Muslim ethnic groups in China follow the general Islamic proscriptions regarding pork. Muslim food—bread, noodles, grilled beef—is consumed as snack food by non-Muslims.
In Greater China, especially Malaysia and Indonesia, one of the primary markers of difference between Chinese and Muslims is the consumption of pork and alcohol.
In Greater China, ethnic food may be consumed with greater frequency than in China itself. Many ‘subethnic’ or regional Chinese restaurants are popular in diasporic China, such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, etc. These of course are Chinese, not ethnic. In those settings, foods of various international cuisines are also eaten. ‘Foreign’—Euro-American—foods, especially those containing dairy products, are considered a different category from other Asian foods and from ethnic and regional Chinese foods. Villages and small towns in China are unlikely to have ethnic or foreign foods of any sort; options among foodways are a privilege that accompanies the growing affluence of China’s middle class.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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