15 Interesting Facts about Ancient Chinese Food

11. Porridge and purple carrots

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Venetian merchant traveler Marco Polo, who may have visited China during the rule of the Yuan dynasty, wrote that by the time of Mongol emperor Kublai Khan at around 1,200AD, the Chinese began eating millet boiled in goat milk to make porridge. They didn’t know how to bake bread even by the end of that century. But they ate purple carrots from Central Asia, brought to China through trade expansion efforts of Khan.

12. The Ni Zan cookbook

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Ni Zan, a renowned artist of the late Yuan and early Ming period, wrote a cookbook on ancient Chinese food, titled “Collection of Rules for Drinking and Eating”. The book is said to have included recipes for noodles, fish, crab, soy sauce, mushrooms, snails, jellyfish, and tempeh, and other foods.

13. Eating etiquette’s

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According to Chinese dining etiquette, youths should sit at the table only after the elders. Besides, they shouldn’t start eating before the elders begin. Also, while eating with a bowl, a person should never hold it at the bottom as the gesture resembles begging. The ancient tradition is still carried over to the modern times.

14. Invented ice cream

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According to some records, ice cream is believed to have its roots in China. A Chinese emperor, at around 200BC, is said to have particularly enjoyed ice cream. He kept it as a royal secret until Marco Polo came and took the frozen food to Venice. A frozen mixture of rice and milk was used to prepare the dessert. It was then poured into a container filled with syrup. A mixture of saltpeter and snow was then poured over the exterior of the container to lower the temperature below freezing point.

Also Read: 15 Ancient Egyptian Food Facts You Should Know

15. Beef was considered sacred

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Over a great part of Chinese history, eating beef was considered illegal. Ancient Chinese food didn’t contain beef. It was believed that an animal meant for farming was sacred and beef was for the highest ritual. The belief has been lasting and influential. The same clauses existed in ancient Korean and Japanese laws.

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