Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Chinese table manners

Chinese (at least Northerners) love to take their friends and family out to eat and treat them.  Even poor college students will take their friends out for their birthday and insist on paying the whole bill.  My labmate says that it makes him really happy to be able to make all of his friends full and happy too.  They call the Western method of paying (i.e. everyone pays for their own) "AA." Not sure why, but they think it's pretty strange.  Part of it may be that it's hard to find what everyone owes because all the dishes are shared, but I think it's mostly because Chinese people care a lot more about harmonious relationships than Westerners.  If there's something to celebrate or you want to do something fun with your friends, go out to eat!  And it's cheap.  You can eat your fill at an average restaurant for about 35 kuai ($5) and get all you can eat at a really really nice buffet for 59 kuai ($8).

Also, when it comes to boxing up the leftovers (No they don't have Chinese-take-out-shaped boxes here), it's really rude to do it unless your only with your family.  If you go out on a date and ask to box up the rest of the food, it means that you care too much about money and little things and not enough about the person you're with.  Again, may be because of the shared dishes phenomenon. 

When you eat with a bowl of rice with others at a restaurant, you use your chopsticks to take a piece from the communal dish and eat it over your rice bowl, sometimes dabbing it on the rice to make the white stuff exciting.  I do prefer to just spoon the sauce over my rice, but that's not really how it's supposed to be done.

My favorite:  when you're eating soup and/or noodles, slurp as much as possible.  It means you're enjoying it.  I'm going to miss noodle soup the most.

1 comment:

Louis said...

BTW, you didn't mention the belching...