ES.272 | Spring 2003 | Undergraduate
Culture Tech

Chinese Cooking


Food is among the most powerful building blocks of culture. It factors into many of our most significant rituals and interactions, and plays a powerful psychological role wherever it is found. This is as true in American culture as it is in Chinese culture, a culture truly built around food. In China, not only has the symbology of food developed into a subtle art, but the science of food production is in some ways the most advanced in the world. How do these worlds of physiologic and ecologic need interact with the psychological and culture possibilities? How can the intricacies of Chinese foodways help us understand our own?


9 The context of Chinese food

Anderson, E. N. “The Climax of Traditional Agriculture,” “Some Basic Cooking Strategies,” and “Food in Society.” Chapters 7, 9 and 12 in The Food of China. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1990. ISBN: 9780300047394.

Hucker, Charles O. Introduction to China’s Imperial Past: An Introduction to Chinese History and Culture. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1975, pp. 1-17. ISBN: 9780804723534.

10 The interplay between Chinese food and culture

Harris, Marvin. “Holy Beef, U.S.A.” Chapter 6 in The Sacred Cow and the Abominable Pig: Riddles of Food and Culture. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press, 1998. ISBN: 9781577660156

Chang, K. C. Introduction to Food in Chinese Culture: Anthropological and Historical Perspectives. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1977, pp. 1-19 and 42-45. ISBN: 9780300027594.



The lab for the food module is to cook Chinese food. Students split into small groups and select recipes, and then we all go to Chinatown to collect the ingredients. While eating the meal, we discuss what the students learned and how the Chinese cooking experience differs from the American.

Course Info
As Taught In
Spring 2003