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Cantonese Soup

Updated: 2011-03-10 10:55

Beijingers usually ask, “Have you eaten?", when they meet someone. A Cantonese person will ask: “Did you have something to drink?” The latter doesn’t mean drinking alcohol, but soup. The culture of soup is deeply rooted in Cantonese lives. Soup is an indispensable part of the Cantonese dining table. The popular saying is: “The Cantonese would rather drink soup than eat rice.”

The soup cooked in many homes and restaurants in Guangdong tastes delicious, and many Cantonese housewives have unique soup-making skills.

Drinking soup first and then eating rice is the traditional Cantonese habit. It is crucial to select a good soup when entertaining friends and family members. At restaurants, the waiter will promote soup before introducing other dishes. Boards listing varieties of soups are familiar sights outside hotels, restaurants and sidewalk snack booths. Some eateries present rows of shiny dark jars containing soups that are slowly simmering, and also emitting wonderful scents that draw passers-by into the shops.

Why do so many Cantonese people love soup? Perhaps it has something to do with the regional climate in Guangdong, which features moist heat. It is believed by many Cantonese people that soup plays a role in “clearing” heat, nourishing beauty, strengthening physical health, preventing and curing diseases, and nourishing vital organs of the human body.

Drinking soup as dietetic therapy is a tradition in Guangdong cuisine, and often calls for drinking different kinds of soup in different seasons, depending on a person’s physique.

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