The Dragon, Chinese Food and Culture


Ancient Chinese people believed that, since the dragon is holy, it is naturally connected with auspiciousness and fortune. People link the dragon with favorableness and the image of dragon has become an integral symbol of social life. The image of the dragon is ever present in a variety of works of art, languages and scripts and in all kinds of artifacts.


“食”的领域更是与龙结下了不解之缘,食品中有龙虾、龙眼、龙荔、龙须菜、龙虎斗、龙井茶、龙须面等。这些食品名称,有的是取其形似,有的则是寓意 吉祥。又如在节令食俗上,早在元代已有“二月二,龙抬头”的记载。为表达对丰收的祈望,这一天很多地方盛行吃面食,这天做的面条叫“龙须面”,烙饼叫“龙 鳞”,饺子叫“龙牙”。清代时,人们在“龙抬头”这一天还要用白灰从门外蜿蜒撒入厨房,并绕水缸一周,名为引龙回。北京的市民要用黍面、枣糕、麦米等油煎 成食品,称为薰虫。此外,在元宵节人们要舞龙灯,端阳节要赛龙舟,这些都属于与龙相关的饮食文化活动。

Culinary culture has also forged indissoluble bound with the dragon. In terms of food names, there are longxia (lobster), longyan (longan), longli (a kind of fruit which is a hybrid of the lychee and longan), longxu cai (asparagus), Dragon and Tiger Fight (Fried Cat and Snake Meat with Sauce), Dragon Well tea, longxu mian (Sautéed Fine Noodles with Shredded Chicken) etc. Some of these names are derived from their shapes which resemble the form of the dragon and some are named for the sake of denoting good fortune. Another point in case is the catering customs of traditional Chinese festivities; there are the records of “the second day of the second lunar month being “Dragon Head Raising Day”. In order to express people’s expectations for harvest, there is widespread consumption of noodles, in particular “Longxu mian” noodles. Baked pancakes are also called “Dragon Scale”, and dumplings are known as “Dragon Teeth”. In the Qing Dynasty, people sprinkled lime afro winding path of lime from their threshold to their kitchen and encircled water vats on “Dragon Heads Raising Day”. The whole process was called “leading the dragon back”. People in Beijing fired millet powder, jujube cake and buckwheat to make food which was called the fuming insect. In addition, on the Festival of Lanterns, people perform Dragon Lantern Dance and on the Dragon Boat Festival people hold dragon-boat races. These are all culinary and cultural activities related to dragon.

在人们使用的饮食器皿和一些灶具上,更是常见龙的形象。它或是寄托了人们对美好的向往,或是营造一种庄严尊贵的气氛。这些龙的姿态各具时代特色,有 的曲体盘绕,有的穿云腾越,有的信步前行,有的蓄力待发。斗转星移,我们的祖先所创造的“龙”至今仍保持着旺盛的生命力,仍为广大人民所喜爱,仍能从心底 唤起民族的自尊心和自豪感。

The pattern of the dragon often appears on household utensils and cooking utensils. It has been regarded as a symbol for people’s aspiration for goodliness or creates a solemn and exalted atmosphere. The postures of these dragons have different characteristics during various ages. Some dragons curve and wreathe, some curvet through the clouds, some march forward leisurely and some are poised. The stars change in positions and time passes by, the dragon created by our ancestors still retain its great vitality and good favor with the public. The dragon still rouses the national esteem and pride from the bottom of the heart.