About Tradition

"Authentic Recipe" is a misleading phrase in culinary parlance; it suggests a single, Platonic ideal for a given dish, something which is unreasonable, if not impossible. Anyone who has a passion for cooking food in a national or ethnic category--Chinese, for example--immediately finds that no two recipes are exactly alike, even if they travel to the country of origin. On the other hand, if a prepared food is given a name, obviously the dish will have certain common, recognizable characteristics. "Spaghetti and meatballs" will never be a mound of batter-fried chicken. I find the term "traditional" to be more useful; it is less dogmatic, while still honoring the idea that certain dishes have a continuity and consistency worth appreciating. Using this term, we can not only celebrate the unique ideas, flavors and methods of an individual cuisine--the things which make it famous--but after extensive research, generally agree on what, for example, Kung Pao Chicken should look and taste like. This is all very democratic, actually. Food writers, chefs and vendors from varied times and locations contribute their recipes and techniques, the similarities are distilled into a single recipe, and the results are not your grandma's, not Chef Ping's in Chengdu, not your own, but a more or less traditional recipe. If you are served Kung Pao Chicken in a restaurant and it is loaded with broccoli and carrot, it may be delicious, but it is not traditional, according to the majority of Chinese cooks who make the dish.  Traditional Chinese Recipes blog tries to present recipes which are, after years of travel, experimentation and research, as traditional as possible.