Master Chef Talks on Recent Evolution of Sichuan Cuisine

Authors: Go Chengdu

2019-10-25

According to Zhang Huiqiang, significant changes have taken place in the development of Sichuan cuisine over the past 70 years, and its evolution never stops.
Noted for its diversified ingredients and magical application of cooking methods, Sichuan cuisine has a long-established prestige in the world, which partly attributes to the growing popularity of Chengdu, the center of Sichuan cuisine. The image of the spicy dishes in Chengdu, in fact, would prove an irresistible temptation to some visitors to the city, not to mention the adorable chubby pandas and the picturesque scenery in the city.
The evolution of Sichuan cuisine undergoes a thousands-of-year long process of inheritance, creation and fusion with schools of cuisine, and the keyword of its success of today is "inclusiveness" ― the continued introduction of and fusion with ideas, elements from other sources while it has kept its own distinctive characteristics.
The Chuancai Museum (Sichuan Cuisine Museum) in Pidu District in western Chengdu, hailed as the world's first museum with regional cooking culture as its theme, is an ideal place to have a know of the culture of Sichuan cuisine, where you can find numerous items on display, including written records, cooking utensils related to the development of Sichuan cuisine over a history of more than 2, 000 years.
Zhang Huiqiang, deputy curator of the museum, is a fifth generation inheritor of the national intangible cultural heritage. He has a team committed to promoting the Sichuan Cuisine culture.
According to Zhang Huiqiang, significant changes have taken place in the development of Sichuan cuisine over the past 70 years, and its evolution never stops. Talking about the New-type Sichuan Cuisine, which emphasizes on the heavier use of spicy ingredients and thus has gained popularity on the market but is much disapproved by more conservative experts, Zhang said that the innovative approach may bring disagreements but eventually show its positive effects for the evolution of Sichuan cuisine. "The preservation of cultural heritages does not rely on self-restraint, but on constant learning and progressing," Zhang remarked.
He noted that each time Sichuan cuisine is facing challenges, it will have a rebirth and come to a higher level.
In history, Sichuan cuisine has experienced great impacts since the era of the Economic Reform and Opening-up, during which it saw the flooding of the Cantonese cuisine, Hunan cuisine, Shangdong cuisine, Japanese and Korean cuisines, and Western cuisines, while the Sichuan cuisine found its way out by creating new recipes by combining its traditional ways with new styles and new ingredients from the outside, even from the Western countries.
"I am an optimistic," Zhang said, "I believe that Sichuan cuisine will make a great transformation by assimilating the essence of the Western cuisines in the future."

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