The preparation of food was traditionally managed by meticulous guidelines.
It was Confucius who was credited with establishing the cultured standards that marked the beginnings of classic Chinese cuisine. According to the Confucian Analects, excerpted from "Food in Chinese Culture" edited by K.C. Chang (Yale University Press, 1997):
"He did not eat what was discoloured or what was of a bad flavour, nor anything which was ill-cooked, or was not in season. He did not eat meat which was not cut properly, nor was served without its proper sauce ..."
The Chinese gastronomy is characterized by the multiplicity of its ingredients, the complexity of its methods of cutting, the sophistication in the use of condiments and spices, its methods of cooking and finally the incredible variety of its dishes.
According to a statistical study published in China in 1983, there more than 60,000 different Chinese dishes.