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Why Chinese People Love To Dine Together?

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Chinese People Dine Together

It is obvious that for Chinese people the pleasure and delight of dining together is afforded not merely by the taste and flavor of the food and the drink. What must be included in addition to the sensuous excitement is the joy of human relationship which is specific to the dining table. The various kinds of Chinese cooked food gives embodiment to the group consciousness and cultural spirit consisting in unity, harmony and complete blending. For example, dishes of Chinese food, whether prepared by frying in shallow oil, stir-frying, steaming, boiling, stewing, roasting, or deep-frying, almost always have the principal element mixed with the seasoning and cooked together with it. Such a dish is to be served as one entity. Historically, there has never been an occasion when meat or fish and salt or pepper are brought to the table in this country as separate units.

Generally speaking, Chinese people dislike to dine alone. It is said that dining alone will render it difficult for one to put on weight and that dining in company with other people will make it easier for one to assimilate nourishment. Dining alone is tasteless, while dining with a company of people affords infinite enjoyment. If one cannot but drink and eat by oneself, one will have to stretch one’s imagination and fancy that his/her dining is going on with companions. Thus Li Bai, the famous poet of the Tang Dynasty, sang:"I raised my cup the bright moon to invite; and with my own shadow joining in, there were three people drinking."The opposite situation is described in China as"drinking in loneliness"or"drinking in a bored frame of mind".

Drinking in loneliness not only denies one enjoyment but also jeopardizes his/her body. If you drink with close friends, then, as the Chinese saying goes,"A thousand cups of wine are too little when drinking with bosom friends", and even drinking in excess of your capacity for liquor will do you no harm.

This is the purport of entertaining guests to dinner. It means not only eating and drinking. In the act of entertaining there is much room for strengthening human relationship and for uplifting consanguinity. It is not equivalent to having a dinner party. It doesn’t simply require that many people dine together. it means metaphorically and literally eating out of the same plate, the same rice pot or the same chafing dish. Obviously, Chinese people are fond of entertaining guests not just because they are hospitable by nature. The true cause is to be fond in the ideological core of the Chinese culture---the group consciousness.

Of course, the best to strive for is, first of all, that the foodstuffs to be used as the raw material should be superb in taste and the feeling of enjoyment of the human relationship at the dinning table should be intense and strong. For achieving this twofold aim the most effective instrument perhaps would be the chafing dish.

Almost all dishes of Chinese food are, as a rule, cooked in the kitchen by stir-frying, shallow frying, deep frying, stewing, steaming, etc. and then presented to the diners. Only the chafing dish merges the cooking and the eating processes. What is more, the cooking apparatus is placed on the table and fire is made to burn from the beginning to the end of the dinner. Doesn’t this remind you of the way of eating our remote ancestors were habituated to? Even now, in our times, those who eat together around a chafing dish must be family members or close companions. They are your good friends, if not brothers. Doesn’t this smack of a deep feeling of perfect human relationship? Especially in deep winter, when the north wind is howling and snowflakes are flying, what can surpass dinning around a chafing dish for the enjoyment of life and sincere human relationship?

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