We can go to any Chinese restaurant if we have a craving for what we call "Chinese food", but the tastes of China are much more diverse than what we recognize ...
When we use the term "Chinese food", it is generally based on the western-adapted fare we have come to enjoy in little take-out boxes or lunch special buffets, but China has quite a diverse knowledge of cuisine. With specialty foods and ingredients coming from specific regions, the whole array of "Chinese food" is really quite spectacular. Just take a look at how a couple of regions accommodate recipes by adding their own flavours to the palette.
- Seafood and fresh water fish
- Oyster and fish sauces
- Fermented soy bean sauces
- Birds and fowl
- Hot pepper
While the flavours are region-specific, they are used far and wide, and often for medicinal purposes as much as nutrition. Each meal tries to incorporate the the 5 tastes - sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and acrid - in the belief that this diet will sustain health.
Vegetarianism is no stranger to Chinese cuisine. With their rich sources of beans, vegetables, and fruits, vegetarian dishes are easily put together with all the necessary dietary requirements.
Of course, even China has its own imitation of "gourmet", or rather - "specialty" dishes. Such things like Peking Duck are well known in the Americas but not nearly experienced enough. The truth is, even in China, these types of foods were created for the wealthy ... specifically - the palace.
To sum it all up, you can get Chinese food virtually everywhere in western civilization, but for an authentic taste of Chinese cuisine, there's only one place to go - China.