As many others have pointed out, this question is too broad. However, I do sympathize with you, it is seriously difficult to learn about the food that is actually eaten in China outside of major cities in the USA.
On thing you should keep in mind:
There is nothing that unifies Chinese cooking
- Should Chinese food be served with
rice? It depends
- Should you use rice, wheat, or egg noodles? It depends
- Should you use soy sauce, oyster sauce, MSG etc? It depends
My advice would be to focus on a single province; learn the sauces & dishes from there. IOM Hunan food is seriously underappriciated in the USA.
Apart from that here are some warning signs that what you are reading about might not be 'authentic':
- Breaded & deep fried meats
- Wade-Giles romanization instead of pinyin (For example szechuan instead of sichuan)
- You can buy all the ingredients in a supermarket
- Ingredients are > 60% meat
- Vegetarian recipes
- Raw vegetables
- Dessert items
These are not hard-and-fast rules but things that are rare in Chin but common in American-Chinese cooking.