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Ancient Chinese Food History

ancient chinese food

Many people want to learn about ancient Chinese Food so they can find out what is different between this and the Chinese food from a takeaway.

Ancient China was very different from the modern factory of the world that we know today. It was the ancient Chinese beliefs to live with the land and let it provide food for you.

Millet is a type of grain which has been grown by farmers ever since the 5th century BC. Rice is another very common crop which has been cultivated since the 4th century BC. The ancient Chinese quickly found that good food is the basis for a healthy life.

Farming in Ancient China

The Ancient Chinese really pioneered farming the land. They used handmade stone and wood tools to plow and plant crops. During the 5th century BC the Chinese started using Iron plows which were much harder and longer lasting.

They used animals to speed up the process of many of these repetitive tasks. In the north of China oxen pulled the plows, whereas in the south where it was much wetter, water bison were used to pull plows.

Farming was a very manual and hands on job. Wheat would be loosened from the crop by beating it with sticks. This is a process which is still carried out in many rural locations in China even to this day.


There were many different crops that the Ancient Chinese focused on growing. While the Chinese might be best known for rice, they also grew wheat, cabbage, soybeans, bamboo and peas.

North of China

If you visit a house in the north of china for dinner then you will almost certainly be served noodles made from wheat. This was the case many centuries ago. This is quite simply because the north is not as wet and is not suitable for growing rice. Instead they grew millet and wheat.

Rice was very expensive in the North of China, due to it being hard to grow. It still is expensive because it has to travel a long way. As well as noodles, other popular foods in the north of china included steamed buns, pancakes, soybean products, and pickles. They may also eat meat, fish and eggs occasionally.

South of China

Ancient Chinese food in the south was very different. This was mainly rice and rice related products.

Ancient Chinese Cooking Methods

The cooking method would normally depend on the class of the family. The rich would steam and stir-fry. The rich would also normally buy more eggs, fish and meat as they could afford to.

Present Day

China is such a large country that it takes a very long time for any change to happen. There are still very distinct boundaries where certain people eat certain types of food. The North is always wheat, and the south normally rice.

Although modern production and transportation methods have made rice more affordable all over china there is still a national divide. Certain areas of china like spicy food, while others don't. It's a very diverse country and these differences still exist to this day.

The best places in Taiwan to sample ancient Chinese dishes are Taipei, Tainan, Taichung, and Lugang.

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