History of Asian Food
Asia, also known as the land of the contrasts, is the largest continent on Earth. The Asian continent covers a vast area of 44.6 million square kilometres or about 30% of Earth’s total land area. Home to the majority of the human population, Asia is populated by more than 4.5 billion people and was the site of many of the world’s first civilizations.
Asia is also the birthplace of all the world’s major religions - Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism. These religions have spread across different parts of Asia and played a part in influencing the lifestyle of the people in Asia today.
It is not surprising therefore that Asia is home to many cultures, many of which have developed their own characteristic cuisine, distinct in many ways yet similar in one way or another.
Because of climatic conditions, the population of Asia is unevenly distributed with dense and large settlements on the one hand and vast, barely populated regions on the other.
Asia also has both the highest and the lowest points on the surface of the Earth, has the longest coastline of any continent, is subject overall to the world’s widest climatic extremes, and, consequently, produces the most varied forms of vegetation and animal life on Earth.
The people of Asia have nonetheless established the broadest variety of human adaptation found on any of the world’s continents.
Poverty in Asia
Perhaps, one of the many major contribution to Asian cuisine is poverty. To keep hunger at bay, Asian foods are rich in carbohydrates (rice, noodles and starches) and protein (bean products). Because these foods are often tasteless and odourless, they are often eaten along with dishes such as stir-fries, soup, curries and a variety of side dishes.
The beginning of Asian Culinary Arts
Because plant food rich in carbohydrates and protein are often so tasteless, Asian people began devising recipes and using attractive food presentations to alter perception of taste and make these foods more appetising and tasty. This not only fill the stomach but also brings joy to the family, especially for breadwinners to enjoy tasty food after a long day of hard work, as well as to bring smiles to children and the elderly.
These gave rise to foods such as stuffed buns, dim sum, dumplings and a wide variety of many mouth-watering, tasty dishes and desserts.
Household also often needs to store foods to survive the harsh climates during winter and dry season when food harvest is at it's low. Food items are generally perishable so finding a way to ensure food supply can last throughout the season became crucial.
The only possible way during the time was through food preservation and therefore household began preserving vegetables, meat, fish, fruits, rice and beans. Today, there are many varieties of preserved food including kimchi, fermented beancurd, salted fish, meat jerky, pickled vegetables, century egg and many more.
Busy & more demanding lifestyle
Life in Asia is also generally busier, demanding and more pressured. This is more prevalent today especially when large scale poverty still exist even within developed and more advanced regions.
Many people often work long hours with minimal breaks just to make ends meet. Some have extended working hours due to work demands and others merely just to avoid the harsh traffic condition during peak hours in the city.
Because of this, the food on sale in Asia often also reflects the nature of people’s lives - more ready to eat and pre-prepared meals.