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Huaiyang Cuisine

The origin of Huaiyang (Jiangsu) cuisine can be traced to pre Christian times. The clear-simmered soft-shelled turtle, a Huaiyang specialty, was listed in the famous delicacies mentioned  in an anceint verse by Qu Yuan (c.340 - 278 B.C.), one of the greatest poets in Chinese history. Yangzhou, where Huaiyang cuisine originated, remained an important economic and salt-trading center for more than 1,000 years, as the famous Beijing-Hangzhou Canal (aka The Grand Canal) passed through there. The traders and men of letters from the North and South gathered there. They became patrons of the many local restaurants, which competed with each other for customers. The most important patron of the Huaiyang cuisine was Zhu Yuanzhang (1328 - 1398, reigned 1368 - 1398), founder of the Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644). Impressed by the local cuisine when he took control of Yangzhou as the leader of a peasant rebellion, Zhu Yuanzhang designated it as the imperial court kitchen master in Nanjing, the first capital of the Ming dynasty.

When the third Ming emperor Yongle (1360 - 1424, reigned 1403 - 1424) moved the capital from Nanjing to Beijing in 1421, he broght the Huaiyang chefs with him.

Huaiyang specialties are lightly flavored, whether they combine sweet-and-sour or sweet-and-salty tastes. Soy sauce and spices are mild and used sparingly, although the use of rich-flavored broth is extensive.

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