There is nothing more comforting and enjoyable than sharing a meal with your friends, family, and loved ones. However, table manners and etiquette is crucial regarding significant business outings and big social gatherings. This article will further elaborate on the table manners and etiquette in China.
Respect the Host
If you are invited as a guest to an important function or dinner for that matter, you should always treat the host with the utmost respect. Allow the host to initiate or begin the start of the meal or course. This mannerism is also similar to the western style of table etiquette as the host will serve the guests of honor as well as the rest of the guests and will then only partake in the meal, so always show consideration to the host first.
In line with respecting the host, one should also be aware of the seating arrangements and adhere to this. Seating arrangements are one of the most important factors in the world of table manners because of the proposing of toasts, it usually begins from the guest of honor and then the rest of the guests joins in. According to Chinese table manners and customs, one should always pay attention and pay attention to the people with who they are dining. There should be no uncivilized behavior regarding talking unnecessarily during the meal, business discussions or boisterous laughter.
Table Manners when Eating
Chinese table manners also don’t consist of slurping down food wildly but rather enjoy and savor it. When dishing into your plate or bowl, rather begin dishing from the food that is closest to you instead of messing around all the food on the table as if you are looking for treasure. Digging your chopsticks through all of the dishes on the table is considered to be bad manners and unhygienic as well. Also, when eating be aware of the way you use your chopsticks and hold your plate or bowl for that matter. If you are using a soup bowl, always use your thumb holding the mouth of the bowl and have your fingers supporting the base of the dish, leaving your palm cringed. This method ensures that food does not fall out, and it does not look sloppy while you are eating. Holding your bowl is also considered as excellent table manners.
How to Use Your Chopsticks
Speaking of chopsticks, not many people can use chopsticks very well which makes it difficult to eat neatly and enjoy the meal. When using chopsticks, always make sure that you do not hold them vertically into your plate or especially in a bowl of rice. This way of using chopsticks is very distasteful in China because it symbolizes a funeral ritual in which incense sticks are placed in a pot of rice and left at the ancestral altar. One should not play with their food using their chopsticks or wave it around in the air. If you cannot use a chopstick, ask for a fork or spoon. However, a knife symbolizes violence and are usually not provided to guests or at restaurants so always request a fork or spoon.
Respecting the Other Guests
When dining with many people, always keep dining pace with everyone. Eating at the same pace provides harmony on the table as it shows that everyone is engaging in the meal together. Don’t rush as this will demonstrate that you are greedy, and don’t take too long either as this will imply that the food was distasteful, and you are not enjoying it.
Tea or drinks will accompany almost every meal that you share with people or enjoy at a restaurant and in this instance, it is of utmost importance that you offer the people around you first before actually pouring for yourself as this will make you look inconsiderate. However, if there are guests immersed in conversation, simply do not interrupt and pour them a cup regardless, this will reflect as a kind and considerate gesture.
Always make sure that you are using a napkin! Place it on your lap immediately when seated and have it on you during the whole meal as this portrays clean and tidy behavior. If you have to leave the table to use the bathroom, always ensure that you excuse yourself before leaving the table, leaving without saying a word can be considered as being rude and bad table manners. Using electronic devices such as cellphones and laptops while eating is also considered as bad table manners and this should be switched off or put on silent during the meal. The people dining with you should have your utmost attention, using a cell phone can be distractive.
One should always eat with elegance! Referring to slurping down food and being disruptive, you should always consider the person that is sitting next to you or directly opposite you. Try to keep your hands to yourself by not nudging or crossing over and disturbing the next person. Also, watch the way you eat, it is considered bad table manners to drop, splash or stir unnecessarily especially when eating noodles or having soup. Try to be vigilant especially when it comes to messing the table or food falling off the plate or soup dripping from the bowl.
In China, people believe good table manners will bring you happiness and wealth. It is a good omen, and it is highly offensive when not adhered to, so one should always be cautious and practice healthy habits and behavior on the dining table. Table manners aren’t all doom and gloom, there are some mistakes for which you can be forgiven, and some may even be overlooked, but when you are present at a formal banquet, it is important always to have these tips and behavior in mind to carry yourself out in a neat and tidy manner. Your dining skills or table etiquette for that matter will ultimately show the kind of person you are as your eating habits is a reflection of who you are and what you may be like as a person.