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#1 wuTao

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Posted 06 January 2006 - 07:11 AM

Is it true that traditional Chinese diets and cuisines did not include any dairy products?

I remember a long time ago a Chinese relative of mine made their first trip to America, and during a visit to a burger joint, was disgusted with the cheese smell of the burgers. I was wondering if a Chinese visitor today would still have the same reaction, or if cheese and diary products are more widespread in Chinese society? I'm guessing it is, with the proliferation of McDonald's everywhere. They also found it strange that I drank milk, even though I was no longer a baby. Is it still uncommon for Chinese people to drink milk?

Personally, I love cheese and dairy products!

[Admin note: It's not 'diary products', but 'dairy products'. 'Diary' is where you record what you did today. I've corrected the spelling ;)
- Yun]

#2 DannyJo

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Posted 06 January 2006 - 10:11 AM

Is it true that traditional Chinese diets and cuisines did not include any diary products?

Personally, I love cheese and diary products!



I think it is still the case that not many mainland Chinese eat cheese, whenever I go over I always take some nice English cheddar and I have to say that though people try some they don't come back for more.

I've heard lots of rumours about why the Chinese don't have dairy products as part of their cuisine, one that many Chinese are lactose intolerant
This website places Chinese as a more lactose intolerant race than Europeans
http://ibscrohns.abo...actoseintol.htm

Also loads of Huaqiao I know love Cheese, and my Chinese language teacher said she hated cheese when first given it by a foreigner in Beijing but now she is living in England her favourite food is cheese and onion pie. So I don't know if its genetic.

2 That Chinese agriculture is not suitable for dairy cow farming, which is a lot different from breeding bullocks for meat, however I don't believe this one seeing as how China's geography is so varied.

3 The foods are seen as off and stagnant, traditional Chinese medecine does not have much time for Cheese eaters, cheese is seen to bring on damp and stagnation.

Out of all these things though I find myself still confused, because China has always had contacts with Cheese eating peoples, from what I know the mongols practically survived winters on "white foods" cheese, yoghurt and milk of various animals, and the peoples of the west Tibetans have almost an obsession with yak butter.

Could it be that in the past the barbarian nature of these peoples in Chinese minds was also transferred to foodstuffs, and therefore Cheese isn't eaten as it is seen as a barbarian food?

#3 lanjingling

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Posted 06 January 2006 - 11:16 AM

Dairy products are becoming more popular in China now : the sponsor of the Supergirl t.v. show is a mongol dairy products brand.
Personnaly, I have always considered doufu as the chinese cheese, because it's made from soya bean exactly the same way as cheese is made from milk (one can consider the cheese as "nai fu" or "rotten milk"),also there are a lot of variety of doufu (the same as cheese), & some can be VERY smelly (altough delicious, but only if you're used to it :P )

#4 l0ckx

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Posted 06 January 2006 - 01:42 PM

Out of all these things though I find myself still confused, because China has always had contacts with Cheese eating peoples, from what I know the mongols practically survived winters on "white foods" cheese, yoghurt and milk of various animals, and the peoples of the west Tibetans have almost an obsession with yak butter.

Could it be that in the past the barbarian nature of these peoples in Chinese minds was also transferred to foodstuffs, and therefore Cheese isn't eaten as it is seen as a barbarian food?


I believe in northern china, influenced by the mongols, milk is drank more than other regions. For the first time in my life i drank hot milk in beijing and it was actually pretty good. but in general i hate milk, but LOVE cheese :wub:

#5 wuTao

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Posted 06 January 2006 - 03:38 PM

Dairy products are becoming more popular in China now : the sponsor of the Supergirl t.v. show is a mongol dairy products brand.
Personnaly, I have always considered doufu as the chinese cheese, because it's made from soya bean exactly the same way as cheese is made from milk (one can consider the cheese as "nai fu" or "rotten milk"),also there are a lot of variety of doufu (the same as cheese), & some can be VERY smelly (altough delicious, but only if you're used to it :P )


Yeah, I've heard of this contest, Mongolian Cow Sour Sour Yogurt Super Girl. What kind of product is the Mongolian Cow Sour Sour Yogurt? Is it like American yogurt?

#6 esse

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Posted 06 January 2006 - 04:13 PM

Didn't the Xianbei love curbed milk? And some northerners adopted that?

I seemingly can recall an tea vs curb milk anecdote in "The temples of Luoyang".
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#7 Yun

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Posted 07 January 2006 - 11:31 AM

I seemingly can recall an tea vs curb milk anecdote in "The temples of Luoyang".

Yes, it's in the Luoyang Qielan Ji. Wang Su, a member of the Langya Wang clan, fled north from the Southern Qi in 493 after his father was unjustly executed. When he first got to the Northern Wei, he did not like the mutton and yoghurt they ate, and always ate fish broth and drank tea instead. A few years later, he was dining with the emperor who noticed that he could now eat lots of mutton and yoghurt. The emperor was curious and asked him how mutton and yoghurt compared to fish and tea. Wang Su replied that mutton was the best meat from the land and fish was the best meat from the water, and their tastes were too different to be compared - it depended whether one preferred the robust taste of mutton or the delicate taste of fish. As for yoghurt and tea, he now said that tea was far inferior and was fit only to be the "slave of yoghurt".

The Chinese tend to be lactose intolerant, it is true (I think I am a little lactose intolerant too, though I like milk and cheese), but milk products are getting very popular in China now. I especially like the Mengniu brand yoghurt and yoghurt drinks. This wasn't the case in the early 20th century. At that time there was an entrepreneur in China who tried to popularise milk-drinking as a health supplement, but he found it very difficult. I read about him sometime back, but I've forgotten his name.

Personnaly, I have always considered doufu as the chinese cheese, because it's made from soya bean exactly the same way as cheese is made from milk (one can consider the cheese as "nai fu" or "rotten milk"),also there are a lot of variety of doufu (the same as cheese), & some can be VERY smelly (altough delicious, but only if you're used to it )


Read this thread. I mentioned there a theory that doufu-eating took off in the Five Dynasties and Song because of influence from Xianbei yoghurt in the Age of Fragmentation.
http://www.chinahist...?showtopic=4879

The Mongolian Import Theory of tofu's origin has been proposed by Shinoda (1971), Japan's foremost authority on Chinese foods and their history. He notes that from the 4th to the 7th centuries AD, nomadic dairying tribes from northcentral Asia migrated southward into China, bringing with them their skills and technology for making cultured milk products such as yogurt and cheeselike foods. Although the Chinese had a highly developed civilization since long before the Christian era, they never developed the art of dairy farming (see Chap. 33) or, consequently, of preparing cultured milk products. Shinoda believed that when the Chinese were introduced to the Mongol's cultured milk product (resembling a yogurt or cheese), it was called rufu by the Mongols. In order to write this word in Chinese, the Chinese had to choose two characters which had the sounds of those two syllables. Fortunately, the character meaning "milk" was pronounced ru. To convey the sound fu the Chinese selected a character that ordinarily meant "spoiled." This choice probably reflected, in part, a certain contempt the Chinese felt for the Mongols, whom they considered to be inferior and uncivilized barbarians. But it may also have reflected the fact that fermentation and spoilage are closely related microbiological processes. The term rufu first appeared in written Chinese during the Sui dynasty (AD 581-618). Later the fu came to be used in many words relating to foods with a consistency like that of yogurt or soft cheese. Over the next few centuries, however, the Chinese grew quite fond of this Mongolian cultured milk product, and at about this time they probably began to adapt the imported cheese-making skills and technology to the curding of tofu to make soymilk, substituting various indigenous mineral salt- or acid coagulants for the rennet and bacterial cultures. Interestingly the character "spoiled" that they had initially used derogatorily for the Mongolian dairy cheese eventually came to be used in the name of their own soy cheese, which was called doufu; the term dou (bean or soybean) simply replaced the term ru (milk). Translated literally, then, tofu means "soybean spoiled." The Chinese insult had boomeranged, and it remains with them to this day. It is not known what the original tofu coagulants were, but today nigari (lu, yanlu, or lushui), a by-product of the process of refining sea salt and consisting primarily of magnesium chloride), is used in the northern and coastal areas. Calcium sulfate in the form of burned powdered gypsum (shigao or shou shigao) mined from the mountains, is used in the southern and inland areas. Soured whey (swan giang??), allowed to ferment naturally overnight) and vinegar are also reported to be used here and there in the south. Advocates of the imported dairy curds theories also note that three other mild-flavored foods, which are among the most popular delicacies in China, were also imported: swallows' nests (yen-wo, made by swallows from edible seaweeds), shark fins (yu-ch'ih), and trepang (sea cucumbers, also called bÍche-de-mer in French).

Shinoda believed that after the middle of the T'ang dynasty (i.e. after about AD 750) the Chinese, who still had no dairy animals, began to make tofu instead of dairy cheese.


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#8 浪淘音

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Posted 07 January 2006 - 08:43 PM

I believe in northern china, influenced by the mongols, milk is drank more than other regions. For the first time in my life i drank hot milk in beijing and it was actually pretty good. but in general i hate milk, but LOVE cheese :wub:


that milk is soybean milk, its not from a cow :rolleyes:

most northerners i know and myself included are partially lactose intolerant. southerners from major cities like Guangzhou tend to eat more dairy products due to more contact with the outside world

#9 l0ckx

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Posted 07 January 2006 - 10:04 PM

that milk is soybean milk, its not from a cow :rolleyes:

most northerners i know and myself included are partially lactose intolerant. southerners from major cities like Guangzhou tend to eat more dairy products due to more contact with the outside world


thank you for clairifying!! i do appreciate it!

#10 lanjingling

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Posted 08 January 2006 - 12:06 AM

Yeah, I've heard of this contest, Mongolian Cow Sour Sour Yogurt Super Girl. What kind of product is the Mongolian Cow Sour Sour Yogurt? Is it like American yogurt?

I've never tasted the Mongolian Cow Sour Sour Yogurt, but if it's really Sour Sour, then it won't taste like U.S.A. 's yogurt, wich are generally "Sweet Sweet" :P Tibetan dairies ,Turkish or Central European Yogurt are actually more sour

#11 lanjingling

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Posted 08 January 2006 - 12:17 AM

Yes, it's in the Luoyang Qielan Ji. Wang Su, a member of the Langya Wang clan, fled north from the Southern Qi in 493 after his father was unjustly executed. When he first got to the Northern Wei, he did not like the mutton and yoghurt they ate, and always ate fish broth and drank tea instead. A few years later, he was dining with the emperor who noticed that he could now eat lots of mutton and yoghurt. The emperor was curious and asked him how mutton and yoghurt compared to fish and tea. Wang Su replied that mutton was the best meat from the land and fish was the best meat from the water, and their tastes were too different to be compared - it depended whether one preferred the robust taste of mutton or the delicate taste of fish. As for yoghurt and tea, he now said that tea was far inferior and was fit only to be the "slave of yoghurt".

The Chinese tend to be lactose intolerant, it is true (I think I am a little lactose intolerant too, though I like milk and cheese), but milk products are getting very popular in China now. I especially like the Mengniu brand yoghurt and yoghurt drinks. This wasn't the case in the early 20th century. At that time there was an entrepreneur in China who tried to popularise milk-drinking as a health supplement, but he found it very difficult. I read about him sometime back, but I've forgotten his name.
Read this thread. I mentioned there a theory that doufu-eating took off in the Five Dynasties and Song because of influence from Xianbei yoghurt in the Age of Fragmentation.
http://www.chinahist...?showtopic=4879

Very interesting , thx ; so maybe my feeling was right ?
An interestimng fact is the way Tibetans & Burmeses drink tea, adding some sort of sour/salted butter in it; does mongols do the same thing ?

#12 TMPikachu

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Posted 11 January 2006 - 10:28 PM

I drink milk every day, though I'm a bit lactose intolerant. The more you drink it the more normalized you get though

I think it's the lack of milk drinking that makes the average Chinese shorter than Europeans.

Though I've heard that people are getting unnaturally big nowadays due to milk drinking and such, leading to risk of medical problems.

Edited by TMPikachu, 11 January 2006 - 10:29 PM.

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#13 l0ckx

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Posted 12 January 2006 - 04:23 PM

I drink milk every day, though I'm a bit lactose intolerant. The more you drink it the more normalized you get though

I think it's the lack of milk drinking that makes the average Chinese shorter than Europeans.

Though I've heard that people are getting unnaturally big nowadays due to milk drinking and such, leading to risk of medical problems.


it has to do with the hormones given to the dairy cattle to produce more milk. many dairy cattle are given food that isn't natural to their diet. Natually cows eat grass, and not the processed grains which help production. i've also heard of claims where young girls begin to develop at younger ages do to the hormones in the milk. This is the same as with women breast feeding. Doctors say that babies can taste the nicotine in the milk of mothers who smoke cigerettes.

#14 TMPikachu

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Posted 12 January 2006 - 05:26 PM

ah.
I remember when I was in Thailand, I thought "man, I love the milk here, it tastes nice"

and I just thought "gee, Thailand has good milk"

but when my brother travelled around Europe, he told me "all the milk there is like Thailand!"
It was just America that was the wierd one.


and for the milk drinkers here, are you a head taller than your non-milk drinking relatives?
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#15 naruwan

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Posted 12 January 2006 - 05:48 PM

Is it true that traditional Chinese diets and cuisines did not include any dairy products?

I remember a long time ago a Chinese relative of mine made their first trip to America, and during a visit to a burger joint, was disgusted with the cheese smell of the burgers. I was wondering if a Chinese visitor today would still have the same reaction, or if cheese and diary products are more widespread in Chinese society? I'm guessing it is, with the proliferation of McDonald's everywhere. They also found it strange that I drank milk, even though I was no longer a baby. Is it still uncommon for Chinese people to drink milk?

Personally, I love cheese and dairy products!

[Admin note: It's not 'diary products', but 'dairy products'. 'Diary' is where you record what you did today. I've corrected the spelling ;)
- Yun]



Again, confusing Chinese with Han when it's convinient.

Chinese people eat and drink lots of dairy products, like Tibetan, Mongolian and Uighur cusine are full of dairy products.
mudanin kata mudanin kata. kata siki-a kata siki-a. muhaiv ludun muhaiv ludun. kanta sipal tas-tas kanta sipal tas-tas. kanta sipal tunuh kanta sipal tunuh. sikavilun vini daingaz sikavilun vini daingaz.

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