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   The Magnificent Seven

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Restaurant and karaoke bar «Safe»
Location: Downtown
Cuisine: European, Japanese
Price: from $40 to $50 per person
 
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Chicken.Kiev >> «Chicken.Kiev» internet-magazine >> World cuisine

Chinese cuisine

If there is anything in this world which we treat seriously,
that would be religion and food
Lin Yutan

That is why the Chinese put cooking first, since a serious attitude towards food, and following all the rituals in preparing dishes, make up the backbone of their cooking traditions. I believe that neither the divine Shan-di nor the legendary Lao-Tse, nor the great Confucius would object to my assumption. And, possibly, they would put "the Gastronomic Cult" in third place after "the Cult of Heaven" and "the Cult of Predecessors".

But let us not go too deeply into the religion of ancient China. Let us speak about the human sin of gluttony. Before we begin though, I would like to remind you of the old saying from the East, "There is no such thing as bad food - any dish should be served in the best way possible, since it nourishes both the spirit and the body". Thus, eating is not a sin!

The East is, alas, a delicate thing

Note, that in neither Japanese nor Chinese cooking books will you find dishes that should only be eaten with a knife and fork. Our little Eastern friends invented little tricks in eating, the basic instruments here being chopsticks and the hands. Incidentally, the experts have proved that food entering the body with the help of the hands is better digested. The ancient Chinese philosophers had also found hundreds of years ago that in this way the food goes through a sacred ritual, and thus not only the stomach receives a blessing, but the soul as well. This again proves the connection between religion and cooking.

However, here lies a paradox! Knives, forks and spoons were invented by the Chinese fifteen hundred years ago. They used to make them from wood and bone. The Chinese were also the first to come up with Italian ravioli and the French "Bouillabaise" (Marseilles fish soup), which they brought to Paris along with umbrellas and gunpowder. Not without good reason, the well-known writer V. Ovchinnikov, in his novel "The Branch of Sakura", wrote that the Chinese cuisine is like alchemy, or a skill to create the unknown from the unseen Chinese cooking, to a greater extent than French, claims the absolute power of the man over matter. As the old saying goes, "A good cook will make use of everything with the only exception of the Moon and its reflection in the water". A large number of ingredients are used in the most unthinkable and unexpected combinations. A Cantonese dish, "The Fight between the Tiger and the Dragon" is peculiar not only because it is prepared from cat and snake meat, but also because of its extremely complex combination of spices. The Chinese cook is proud of his skills in preparing fish in such a way that it would be impossible to tell it apart from chicken. He is also proud that he can treat you to many dishes so that you will never guess what they are made from.

I cannot refrain from citing another wise Chinese man who said that "Chinese cuisine has the same importance in the world of tastes as European music in the world of sounds".

Alex Wedding wrote in her Eastern Memoirs, ...snakes and swallow's nests? It is all a matter of habit and taste. In their turn, the Chinese do not like our cheese and butter. They call them spoiled milk

We take the word combination "rotten eggs" literally as well. In reality, "rotten eggs" are simply kept in a special solution of salt, lime and wood ash And they are not really rotten at all. Maybe just a little bit overkept pass the due date, with an unusual taste, and very, very expensive.

Distances make a difference

China is a large country, full of contrasts. No wonder that each part of it has its own laws, traditions and tastes. In the South, for example, you will always see rice and garlic on the table. In the North wallnuts and beans. However, there are three territories claiming leadership in cooking these are Beijing, Canton, and Sichuan province. Sichuan is famous for its ravioli. Khantun, as this dish is called there, have peculiarly spicy stuffing and dough.

In Beijing, more popular are those dishes which preserve the natural taste of ingredients. Once at their table, you will always be served with "Chun Yan Dzhu". First of all, they place on the table a bronze pot filled with water, with fire heating it from underneath. When the water comes to the boil, they serve the sauce ingredients: brown butter, red pepper sauce and onions. Each guest puts a bit of each ingredient onto his/her plate and mixes their own sauce. Then guests use their chopsticks to take pieces of chopped meat, dip them into the pot of water, then into their "personal" sauce, and only then eat them. When the bouillon becomes fatty enough, some cabbage schnitzel, spinach, green peas and pasta are added, and the dish turns into soup.

If you ever travel through Tibet, you'll get used to abundant eating. There, they will offer you up to fifteen dishes for lunch and it's against the rules to refuse any of those. A final "Thank you" you can only say afterwards. And "afterwards" means, after tea served with addition of butter, symbolizing the end of the meal.



 
 
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UKRAINIAN CUISINE

Budmo, hey! (Let's be!) The first thing which comes to my mind... No, that's not what I should say. The first picture which my imagination paints when I hear the words "the Ukrainian cuisine" is an episode from the movie of Hohol's "Evenings in the hamlet near Dykanka", where varenyky, having rolled around by themselves in sour cream, jump into Patsiuk(The Rat)'s mouth. What a great moment! What a great delicacy! And what a great way to eat it! It is certainly a pity that nobody has yet invented a "remote control for the mouth and the plate", and the above method of delivering food into the mouth is just the devil's trick or Hohol's project that is impossible to implement. But then, the amount of halushky (by the way, in a big, big bowl) is just right for our healthy and inspired Ukrainian appetite! Never mind how other people eat, but we, not so rich people, or one can even say people very far from being rich, are used to eating in grand style. It is not without reason that our phrase, "Love comes and goes, but you will always want to eat!", simply does not translate well into other languages - probably foreigners simply just do not have such words. So, what am I talking about? Oh yeah, about the unmatched Ukrainian cuisine! "There's no fish better than tench, and no meat better than pork." Among all the dishes of Ukrainian cuisine, for example, that of the very beginning of the XX century, one can single out several subcategories, which were the most popular among native Ukrainian people: those made from grains, beans, vegetables, and fruits. Note than in the old days, dishes made from meat were considered food for festive days only, and among all the existing kinds of meat, the undisputable preference was given to pork and certainly (could there be any doubting it?) salo - oh, our Ukrainian salo!


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