We received the delicious authentic recipe for Chinese dumplings, Jiaozi, and spring rolls from Marlin (in he photo on the left). Marlin and his brother (on the right) were born in the Netherlands, but their mother Liygun is originally from China. She was born in Hangzhou. This is on the east coast of China, about a 2-hour drive from Shanghai. She came to the Netherlands 29 years ago for love, but she has never let go of Chinese cuisine and culture. We asked her about Chinese food culture.
How would you describe the Chinese food culture?
"China is a very large and multi-ethnic country, which means that the precise food culture can vary greatly per region. Chinese food culture has a long history with influences from beliefs such as Yin-Yang and Confucianism. We eat three hot meals a day and during every meal there are many small dishes that are eaten in combination with rice. On special occasions we go out to dinner with the whole family. We then eat at a large round table, which symbolizes harmony, and a lot of value is attached to aesthetics."
“On special occasions we go out to dinner and eat at a large round table, which symbolises harmony."
Does Hangzhou also have a local food culture?
"Dishes from Chinese cuisine can be subdivided into "eight great cuisines", namely the Sichuan, Shandong, Cantonese, Fujian, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Hunan- and Anhui cuisine. The cuisine of Hangzhou is part of the Zhejiang cuisine. In Zhejiang cuisine we cook a lot with fresh seasonal ingredients and fish. And contrary to what many people think about Chinese cuisine, this cuisine almost does not consist of spicy dishes."
Where does your passion for cooking come from? And is this passion passed on from mother to son?
"In China there is an old saying: "Food is the first necessity". I really like food and I love to work with my hands. Most Chinese learn how to cook from their parents. When I grew up, the eldest daughter was supposed to have the biggest role in helping with cooking so I could cook the best. In Modern China, this tradition no longer exists and the skill is transferred to all children."
Are there misconceptions about Chinese cuisine?
"Many people think that there is only one Chinese cuisine, but in fact Chinese food that we know is composed of recipes from many different cuisines from different regions. In addition, the food you can find in an average Chinese restaurant in the Netherlands is strongly adapted to our taste, Babi Pangang or Foe Yong Hai, for example, you will not find in China. Furthermore, in China food is not just food. It is much more for us, it is part of body and mind, friendship, family, and culture. Therefore I like to invite everyone, as soon as it is possible with Covid, to visit China and experience Chinese cuisine."
“In China food is not just food. It is much more for us, it is part of body and mind, friendship, family, and culture.”
In addition, Liygun also likes to invite everyone to take a look at her tea shop on bol.com. A closely related part of Chinese food culture is the Chinese tea culture, which is served during dinner. Hangzhou is one of the most famous Chinese "tea cities". Liygun visits her family and friends every year and then brings large amounts of local tea back to the Netherlands. After a while she brought so much tea that she decided to start her own tea shop. Curious? Visit https://www.bol.com/nl/nl/w/chinese-thee-zo/1569888/