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Five Chinese eating habits explained [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2012-1-30 10:10:12 |Display all floors
Why shouldn't you stick your chopsticks in the rice? How do you politely snip off noodles? Myths and superstitions of Chinese dining unraveled here.

1. Do not rest chopsticks vertically in rice

While it may minimize the transition time between the voracious gobbling of food and intermittent sipping of a Tsingtao or cup of cha, stowing chopsticks in this way is neither prudent nor polite.

Meaning: It’s a harbinger of death.

Just as the number four, si (四), is considered inauspicious for its homophonous relation to the word si (死), meaning death, the sight of two upright chopsticks in a bowl is reminiscent of the incense sticks that the Chinese traditionally burn in veneration of deceased loved ones.

2. Never turn over the fish

In Chinese restaurants, the standard is for a fish to be served whole.

After working your way through the tender top side, it may seem logical to simply flip the fish and continue. Unfortunately, doing so has an unforeseen consequence.

Meaning: You’ve capsized the boat.

But you don’t have to resign yourself to picking and prodding.

Using your chopsticks, pick up the backbone at a point near the tail and gently pull upward until you’ve dislodged the bone from the meat beneath. Then simply slide the “boat” to the side of the plate, and continue eating.

3. Birthday noodles

Chinese tradition calls for a birthday girl or boy to slurp a bowl of noodles as a celebration of the many years ahead. And as “Lady and the Tramp” so aptly demonstrated, that one long noodle can be a great thing.

Meaning: It symbolizes longevity.

In this case, that long strip of noodle is a metaphor for the long walk of life. Yet this tradition comes with an addendum: do not cut the noodles.
“That symbolizes cutting your life off,” It's not a very positive message on the day of one’s birth.

4. Tea tapping is a must

A tea cup should never be allowed to run dry.

Your host, or members of your dinner party, will regularly refill the cups of those around them, who tap the table in response. Go ahead and follow suit.

Meaning: It’s a show of thanks.

According to legend, there was once an emperor who regularly impersonated a commoner in order to get acquainted with his people.

One night, while at a teahouse, the emperor poured tea for his accompanying servant.

A tea cup should never be allowed to run dry.

Your host, or members of your dinner party, will regularly refill the cups of those around them, who tap the table in response. Go ahead and follow suit.

Meaning: It’s a show of thanks.

5. Always order an even number of dishes

When out with a sizable crowd, you want to ensure you order enough food. A rule of thumb is to order dishes equivalent to the number of people in your party, plus one. But if you’re an even-numbered crowd, this will put you at odds -- in numbers and in fortune.

Meaning: Odd number of dishes symbolizes death (again).

This has nothing to do with homonyms, but rather with qi.

According to Chinese belief, odd numbers are associated with yin qi rather than yang. In the yin-yang equation of balance, yin is cold, yang is hot -- dark and light, death and life, respectively.

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Post time 2012-2-1 11:59:17 |Display all floors
My favorite is being able to spit out a bad piece of food or bone.
It always fascinates me when I read an article on English dining etiquette about whether it is
best to discretely remove a repulsive piece of food from your mouth or swallow it against all
your best judgement. I've seen various methods suggested such as pretending to wipe your
mouth with a napkin and then spitting out the piece of refuse and then hiding it from view so
nobody will notice. If you are served a gristly piece of meat or chicken or a bony fish this could
take all night. I like the Chinese way of just spitting it out and continue eating.
Enough with the silly pretense.
If capitalism promotes innovation and creativity then why aren't scientists and artists the richest people in a capitalist nation?

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