Thursday, 17 February 2011

Etiquette How to Eat Chinese Food


It's fine to use a fork instead of chopsticks; to transfer food from a serving dish to your bowl with a spoon; to shovel rice into your mouth with a ladle. Just don't use your hands on the food. "People will think you are Mongolian," said my guide, as I pushed rice on to my chopsticks with a finger.
If you finish everything on your plate (or every last sip of tea), it's a sign that you want more and the host/waiter/waitress will top you up. If you want to be very cool, knock gently on the table with your knuckles to say thanks for the refill.
Never leave your chopsticks standing upright in food. It's a death omen.
The closer to the tips you hold chopsticks, the more open and honest you are.
Never leave your chopsticks pointing at anyone - it's considered very rude. For the same reason, always point the spout of a teapot away from people.
When drinking tea or eating noodles, slurp as loudly as you can (very hard for a polite English person). If you don't, it's a sign that you're not enjoying it.
Don't be afraid to dig into shared dishes with your chopsticks - but take your cue from Chinese hosts. Since Sars, some people have been more reluctant.
Alcohol is not taboo; though tea will be served automatically, and in abundance, it's fine to order a beer or a glass of wine with your meal as well.
There is no "correct" order in which to eat food: cold hors d'oeuvres usually come first, hot foods such as soup often last. Rice is sometimes offered only at the end of the meal, a cheap way to fill up if you're still hungry. In reality, all courses come at the same time, and it's stressful - but stay calm.
The Chinese don't mind eating sweet cakes, then salty soup; or fruit and savoury food on the same plate. It's easy to feel intimidated, but the Chinese are less bound by convention than we are.

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