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Cantonese cuisine: the earliest Chinese food welcomed abroad

(chinadaily.com.cn)Updated: 2016-09-23

The vast majority of all Chinese restaurants outside of the Middle Kingdom undoubtedly serve Cantonese cuisine, as it was the first Chinese cuisine introduced to the outside world, representing another first for Guangdong province.

Cantonese cuisine, also known as Yue cuisine, is one of the eight traditional Chinese cuisines, and is characterized by its tender textures and slightly sweet taste. Hoisin, oyster, plum and shrimp sauces, as well as condiments such as spring onion, sugar, salt, vinegar are widely to enhance flavor.

Sun Yat-sen, the first president and founding father of the Republic of China wrote in "Memoirs of a Chinese Revolutionary of The International Development of China" in 1919 that in China's modern history (1840-1949), the country's development fell behind except for its cooking, which is still now better than and far beyond that of other European and American countries.

The cooking that Sun mentioned undoubtedly refers to Guangdong food. Its prominence outside China is the result of the large number of emigrants from Guangdong, during the emigration waves after the breakout of the First Opium War (1840).

The earliest Chinese restaurant in the US was the Guangdong Canteen, opened by emigrant Cantonese in July, 1849.

Liu Dihua, born in Huadu district in Guangdong, headed to the United States in 1907 and opened a Shanghai Restaurant there in 1913. It was crowned as the best Chinese restaurant in the US at that time.

Liu continuously promoted Guangdong food in American cities such as New York, Seattle, Los Angeles and Boston.

Cantonese food was the top choice at Chinese restaurants in the US until the late 1940s, when other classic cuisines gradually entered the market.