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he Song Dynasty was part of Chinas golden age, and while the country flourished, so did its cuisine. There were many changes and advances in Chinese cuisine during the Song Dynasty. Culture differentiated between regions leadings to many new types of food. However, in places like the capital Hangzhou, the different regional cuisines blended together. The Song Dynasty developed many new aspects of Chinese cuisine, however, judging from the listed seasonings they used for these dishes, such as pepper, ginger, pimento, soy sauce, oil, salt, and vinegar, Song era cuisine is perhaps not too different from the Chinese cuisine of today [DL1]. Other additional seasonings and ingredients included walnuts, turnips, crushed Chinese cardamon kernels, fagara, olives, ginkgo nuts, citrus zest, and sesame oil [DL2]. Many of these ingredients are still used in Chinese cooking today, which

indicates that the two cuisines might have been very similar. Restaurants in the Song Dynasty were known for their unique specialties. For example, there was one restaurant in Hangzhou that served only iced foods, [DL3] while some restaurants catered to those who wanted either hot, warm, room temperature, or cold foods. [DL4] Thats similar to many restaurants today. Modern restaurants serve all different kinds of food, but each one has its own signature dish, what theyre known for. Most restaurants are like that, they specialize in one particular food, whether it is hamburgers, steak, or smoothies, most restaurants specialize in the service on one particular kind of food. In the early morning in Hangzhou, along the wide avenue of the Imperial Way, special breakfast items and delicacies were sold. [DL5] This included fried tripe, pieces of mutton or goose, soups of various kinds, hot pancakes, steamed pancakes, and iced

cakes. [DL6] Song cuisine may very well have had an impact on the

foods that we eat every day, pancakes, soup, cakes, foods that we eat in our daily lives. They all might have originated during the Song Dynasty. There were also some exotic foreign foods imported to China from abroad, including raisins, dates, Persian jujubes, and grape wine; rice wine was more common in China, a fact noted even by the 13th century Venetian traveler Marco Polo. Besides wine, other [DL7] beverages included pear juice, lychee fruit juice, honey and ginger drinks, tea, and pawpaw juice. [DL8] Due to the presence of foreign foods we can conclude that the Chinese had contact with people from other regions. This further supports the possibility that Song cuisine may very well have had an impact on the foods that we still eat today. Women prepared most of the meals during the Song era.

Women had always been subservient to men in Chinese society. [DL9] Their status further declined during the Tang and Song periods. [DL10] Peasant women worked in the fields and helped produce their familys food and income. [DL11] Just like in the majority of households today, women prepared the food in the Song dynasty. Women today have many more rights,

meals in the majority of American households. Today most American women may not be working in the fields, but they still contribute a lot to their families income and food preparation. There were many differences between social classes during the Song dynasty, and their food was one example of those inequalities. The main diet of the lower classes [was] rice, pork, and salted fish. [DL12] It is known from restaurant dinner menus that the upper classes did not eat dog meat. [DL13] The rich are known to have consumed an array of different meats, such as chicken, shellfish, fallow deer, hares, partridge, pheasant, francolin, quail, fox, badger, clam, crab, and many others. [DL14] We can clearly see the differences between the upper and lower classes by studying their diet. The peasants were

forced to eat a very simple diet, while the upper class or gentries got to eat a wide variety of fine foods. The lower class people were stuck eating low quality meats like dog, while the rich were feasting on many different exotic meats. The period of the Tang and Song dynasties was one of intense growth. [DL15] China grew in population, trade, wealth, new ideas, and artistic achievements. Their cuisine was no [DL16] exception. The food of the Song dynasty has had an impact on the foods that we still eat today. Everybody loves to eat, and the people of the Song dynasty did too. Cuisine is a major part of everybodys culture. It was a major part of the culture of the Song era, and its a major part of our culture today.

and are treated more equally. However, they still prepare the

Daniel Laden Endnotes


1. Jacques Gernet, Daily Life in China on the Eve of the Mongol Invasion, 1250 1276 Stanford: Stanford University Press. 133 2. Stephen H. West, "Playing With Food: Performance, Food, and The Aesthetics of Artificiality in The Sung and Yuan," Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies (Volume 57, Number 1, 1997): 67106. 3. Jacques Gernet, Daily Life in China on the Eve of the Mongol Invasion, 1250 1276 Stanford: Stanford University Press. 137 4. Stephen H. West, "Playing With Food: Performance, Food, and The Aesthetics of Artificiality in The Sung and Yuan," Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies (Volume 57, Number 1, 1997): 67106. 5. Jacques Gernet, Daily Life in China on the Eve of the Mongol Invasion, 1250 1276 Stanford: Stanford University Press. 183-184 6. Ibid 183-184 7. Ibid 134-135 8. Ibid 138 9. Macdougal, Little, World History, (2003) 291 10. Ibid 291 11. Ibid 291 12. Jacques Gernet, Daily Life in China on the Eve of the Mongol Invasion, 1250 1276 Stanford: Stanford University Press. 136 13. Ibid 136 14. Stephen H. West, "Playing With Food: Performance, Food, and The Aesthetics of Artificiality in The Sung and Yuan," Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies (Volume 57, Number 1, 1997): 67106. 15. Macdougal, Little, World History, (2003) 291 16. Ibid 289 17. Ibid 289 18. Ibid 289

Daniel Laden Sources


Gernet, Jacques. Daily Life in China on the Eve of the Mongol Invasion: 1250 - 1276. London: Allen & Unwin, 1961. Print. West, Stephen H. "Playing With Food: Performance, Food, and The Aesthetics of Artificiality in The Sung and Yuan." Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 57. Web. World History Patterns of Interaction. Evanston, IL: McDougal Littell, 2009. Print.