The Chinese nation has a civilized history of 5,000 years and has created a traditional food culture. In the Chinese culture cooking is an art and a science.
The Chinese culinary culture has been developed over many centuries. The legend states the Chinese cooking culture originated with Yi Yin, a virtuous and capable minister of the Shang Dynasty around the 15th to 11th century B.C. There are signs that China initiated the culinary art as early as the Shang and Zhou around the 11th century to 221 B.C.
During the period from the Spring and Autumn Period, 770-476 B.C., and the Warring Stated Period from 475-221 B.C., to the Sui-Tang period, the Chinese dishes began to be separated by Southern and Northern tastes. In general, the southern dishes emphasize freshness and tenderness. While due to the cold weather, northern dishes are relatively oily, and the use of vinegar and garlic tends to be quite popular.
During the period of the Tang (618-907 A.D.) and the Song(960-1279 A.D.) dynasties, people went in a great deal for nutritional medical value of different plants: fungus, herbs, vegetables. Many varieties of "medicinal food" have been cooked for prevention and cure of diseases, or for health care and recovery.
Distinct local flavors evolved in Chinese dishes later, such as the Northern food ("Lu" or the Shandong dishes), the Southern food ("Yue" or the Cantonese dishes), the Chuan food (Sichuan dishes), Huai Yang (Yangzhou) and the vegetarian foods and records respecting each kind of dishes.