There is probably a reason why five thousand years of history produced such bad food.
If someone offers to take you to a nice restaurant in China chances are that it’s not going to be Chinese. There are plenty of good restaurants in most Chinese cities, but they tend to be themed off of food in Hong Kong, Thailand, Japan, Europe, the USA, etc.
It’s almost phenomenal how bad Chinese food in China is. There are basically two options: oily, salty, and packed with MSG with chili peppers, or oily, salty, and packed with MSG without chili peppers.
When you first arrive in the country there is a good chance that you think there are a plethora of local style food options … until you realize that everything tastes the same.
I’m not complaining. I don’t mind simply, filling food, and I don’t really give a shit about anything that I’m writing here. I just find it interesting.
And I realized that I’m wrong about something.
I once attributed the low quality of China’s modern culinary tradition to the upheavals of the 20th century — to the Cultural Revolution, to Mao’s rustification program, to poverty, a lack of food options, and famine. It made sense: China’s traditional culinary tradition was lost like so many other aspects of the culture.
But then I came to Taiwan — to places that didn’t endure many of these social crackdowns and strife — and the food is equally as horrible. People still go to foreign themed restaurants when looking for a good meal.
I’m all out of theories on this.