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Customs in China

3 Pages 804 Words

Common Knowlege

Everyday Eating Customs in China
Here in the West, because of the popularity of Chinese restaurants, we have some idea (to a greater or lesser degree authentic) of the sorts of food to be found in China, and many people have mastered (to a greater or lesser degree) the use of chopsticks. But the experience of eating at even the least Americanized Chinese restaurant scarcely resembles the experience of sharing an everyday family meal. Eating at a restaurant, both in the States and in China, has more in common with attending a banquet, which involves deliberate reversals and amplifications of everyday Chinese customs and habits.
Family Meals
Though customs and the kinds of food eaten vary according to region, it is most common for Chinese families to gather for three meals a day. In some areas and at some times of the year, laborers may have only two full meals a day, but when possible, they supplement these with up to three smaller ones, often taken at tea houses. There is not, in general, the strong association we have in the West between the type of food and the time of day it should be served (say, eggs for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, pot roast for dinner). The sorts of dishes served at the two or three main meals are pretty much the same. The goal in planning, however, is to provide a number of dishes at each meal, so that, rather than experiencing difference by comparison between one meal and the next, each meal includes, in itself, a satisfying array of elements.
The Stuff of the Meal
The center of the Chinese meal is fan, or grain. So much so, that the meal itself is called hsia fan, "a period of grain." In the South and among urban families in other areas, the fan may be rice or rice products, but rice is expensive, as is the wheat eaten in the North in the form of cooked whole grains, noodles, or bread. Depending on the region, then, less prosperous families might make their meals of millet, sorghu...

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