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How Do I Eat It? Chinese Etiquette

Introduction

Whether you are in your home country or in China, it’s important to follow the Chinese etiquette when eating Chinese food. Most westerners just eat Chinese food without abiding by the proper table manners.

So, do you want to know how to eat Chinese food like a boss? Are you ready to learn how to eat Chinese food out of the box? What about the chopsticks? Want to know how to eat Chinese food with chopsticks? Well, you are at the right place. This article contains everything you need to know about Chinese etiquette.

Why do Jews eat Chinese food on Christmas?

Today, the American Jewish community has made it a tradition to eat Chinese food on Christmas. Some Jews will even order some Chinese food when local Chinese restaurants are closed for the holiday. There are many reasons why Jews prefer eating Chinese food over Italian and Mexican foods.

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However, the main reason for this is because there is a deeper bond between the Jewish and Chinese communities. This bond goes way back to the years 1899-1911. This bond was started with their similarities as the non-Christian communities in America during this period. Also, Chinese food is healthy and is good for people who are on a diet.

How to eat Chinese food healthy tips and guidelines

When dining in China, you should know that there are some unique differences between Western and Chinese dining etiquette. If you want to know how to eat Chinese food like a boss, observe the following guideline.

The Chinese Table Manners

  • In China, round table is more popular than a square or rectangular one. This allows people to be seated comfortably facing each other. As a guest of honor, you should be seated to the right of the host. It’s discourteous to seat guests at the spot where dishes are served.
  • Eating will begin once all the guests are seated.
  • If you are the guest, you shouldn’t start to drink or eat before the host does. This rule is also present in western countries.
  • Ensure that you sample a bit of every dish. Otherwise, you’ll be taken as a ‘rude’ guest.
  • A normal Chinese dining table contains a bowl on a small dish, a cup, chopsticks, and spoons. The dishes are usually located at the center of the table.
  •  Rather than soup, all other dishes should be eaten with chopsticks.
  •  Never smoke when dining and you should keep your eating pace with other people.

How to eat Chinese food with chopsticks

In China, chopsticks are the most used utensils. They serve as knives, forks, a whisk, a steamer stand and a pair of tongs. Most chinese meals such as noodles require the use of chopsticks. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to eat chinese food with chopsticks:

Step 1 – Hold the chopsticks on your dominant hand loosely. Don’t clench them as you might end up flinging your food all over the place. The first chopstick should be in between your index finger and thumb. Use your ring finger to balance it.

Step 2 – The second chopstick should be in between your thumb and index finger along with the first chopstick. However, it should be balanced using the middle finger and not the ring finger.

Step 3 – Now use your thumb, middle and index fingers to grasp the second chopstick just a bit more tightly.

Step 4 – The chopstick at the bottom (the first one) should remain more or less stationary. Use the middle and index fingers to do all the heavy lifting on the second chopstick. Open the chopsticks and close them over the food. Ensure that your hand remains loose but maintains a good control over the top chopstick.

It’s important to note that sticking your chopsticks straight down into your bowl of rice is considered as bad luck by the Chinese community. You should never try to pass food from one chopstick to the next. This is also considered a bad mojo.

How to eat Chinese food on a diet

Now that you know how to use chopsticks, it’s a good idea what to order when you’re on a diet. Keep in mind that you don’t just eat chinese food when dieting. The best way to diet is staying away from too many calories.

In America, Chinese food is considered to be very healthy. However, it can contain high concentrations of sodium. Since main dishes are usually very large, here are some tips for people who are dieting:

  • Meals with lots of veggies are preferable. Cho suey with steamed rice is a good example.
  • If possible, substitute chicken for a duck.
  • Request the cook to use less oil when preparing stir-fry and other dishes.
  • Avoid crispy fried noodles on the table.
  • What about a Chinese takeout?

When you order Chinese food, it will come in a takeout box. Chinese takeout boxes are great but it’s not easy to eat directly out of the box. But what happens if you don’t have a plate? This is how to eat chinese food out of the box; Just pull the glue on the sides of the boxes, unfold and voila…you have a plate. It’s also possible to do the same with containers that come with a wire handle but you have to remove the handle first.

Other Do’s and Don’ts to observe when eating Chinese food

Don’t turn over the fish

In China or Chinese restaurants, the fish is usually served whole. It may seem logical to flip the fish once you’ve worked your way through the tender top side. However, this implies that you’ve capsized the boat.

The best way to eat your fish is by picking up the backbone at a point near the tail using chopsticks and gently pull upward until it’s dislodged from the meat beneath. Slide the fish to the side of the plate and continue eating.

Tea Tapping

This is a must-do activity on a Chinese dining table. A tea cup should never run dry. It’s a show of thanks.

Always order an even number of dishes

This applies when you’re out with a number of friends and you want to ensure that the food is enough. Ensure that you order dishes equivalent to the number of people at the table plus one. However, if the number of people is even, just let the extra plate slide. An odd number of dished symbolize death.

Conclusion

Now that you know everything about Chinese dining etiquette, why don’t you go out and enjoy a delicious Chinese meal with family and friends?

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