China is a large country with various climates and large ecological diversity. Foods in different regions in China have their unique characteristics. The differences between Northern and Southern China food are most significant, and here are some of the most interesting examples.
Living in the main grain production area, Northern China people commonly eat wheat-based staple food, such as buns, breads, and wheat-based noodles. While rice is the most common agricultural product in Southern China, people living in Southern
China eat rice as their staple food,
Flavors & Seasonings
Influenced by the different climates and eating habits, people in the north and the south have very different tastes on flavors and seasonings.
Generally speaking, Northern China foods are saltier, and Southern China foods are sweeter. This is because people in the north have the need to preserve food in cold and harsh weather condition, while the moist and warm weather in the south allows the people to grow sugarcane and produce sugar.
The “salt vs sweet” difference can be found easily in Chinese menu. For example, “Zong Zi”, a traditional festival food, has a salty version and a sweet version; “Yuan Xiao” (also called “Tang Yuan”) also tastes very different in the north and the south.
Difference between the north and the south is also reflected on the beverage. Northern China people usually drink liquor and beer when meeting and dinning with friends, while Southern China people are more likely to treat their friends with a cup of tea.
As the old Chinese saying goes: “A distance of ten miles separates differing customs” . Due to the differences in the geographical location, climatic characteristics, history，culture, political and economic activities of the north and south of China, the natural environment and the human environment of the north and south of our country are significantly different. The North and South customs have their own characteristics and will be passed on forever, since they are an essencial part of Chinese traditional culture.