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Funny Chinese Food Culture And Chinese Customs

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Chinese Customs

As a matter of fact, dining has always been a matter of paramount importance in China. Since Chinese people, as a nation, depend on agriculture for subsistence, they have to wait for the crops to ripen before they can have their meals in the coming year. But during the long period of waiting, there is no assurance that natural disasters will not strike unexpectedly. So, there is always the fear of starvation.

Actually, dining has always been not only an affair of the utmost importance but also a basic right. In the autocratic society of ancient China there was utterly no human right to speak of. The prime minister might have his buttocks exposed in the courtyard of the imperial palace to be birched by eunuchs at the order of the emperor or empress dowager. A common man might have his buttocks beaten with sticks or rods by two bailiffs alternately at the whim of the county magistrate. No matter whether one be a high-ranking official, who was nevertheless an imperial subject, or a member of the general populace, who was no doubt as contemptible as a bunch of grass, he had no right to think and no right of speech. Nor did he have the right to keep confidential any private affair of his own and no right to know anything about those who were high up. But they all had the right to dine. Even a prisoner under death sentence would be given a dinner and allowed to eat his fill on the eve of execution. His relatives and friends were permitted to carry wine and meat to the execution ground for the reason which was termed "No killing a starved person". There are many stories about men of courage taking advantage of this privilege to break into the execution ground and rescue the prisoner. As conceived by the Chinese people, the ghost of one who died of starvation belongs to ghosts of the most miserable category. Not to fill a person with food to his heart’s content before execution was considered to be even more inhumane than the act of killing him.

Chinese Customs

At some places in China, there is even such a custom: A "ghost holiday" is observed every year. On that "holiday", it is believed, the king of the hell let loose the lonely ghosts, who have no living kin on earth. For those "homeless ghosts" every household will prepare a banquet and place foods at the door. This custom shows how "pitiful" those ghosts are in the eyes of Chinese people. Indeed, those who have died of starvation deserve the deepest sympathy and pity!

For the same reason, the way of Chinese eating,  table manners and etiquette are subjects worthy of thorough investigation.

To halt immediately after tasting a bit of the food offered shows courtesy and good manners, may be that is a good  eating customs you can accept, but it indicates at the same time estrangement and separation. Estrangement makes the other side see clearly that you are not on familiar terms with him, while separation denotes that you don’t intend to share the same lot with him. To drink the alcohol made at your disposal to your heart’s content shows that you lack modesty and self-restraint, but at the same time it makes the other side feel that you are affectionate, warm and intimate, where being affectionate means you feel that you and he have "consanguinity" and being warm means you feel that he is the right one with you at the right time, like a dish that has just been cooked and brought to the table.

 Chinese Food Culture

If you want to show that the other people are your "brethren" and your "flesh" and that you believe that they will stand by you "through thick and thin" you must thrust your chopsticks together with them into the same bowl of meat or fish, thus demonstrating that you make no distinction between you and them, that you truly want to share the same "rice bowl" with them, and that you truly consider them to be consanguineous with you so far as living this life is concerned.

Moreover, if you eat with a loud sound, smacking your lips, it may show that you lack breeding, but, on the other hand, this may be considered a sign of the great relish with which you are enjoying the palatable dishes prepared by the hostess.

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