Food and eating is a very important aspect of Chinese culture. China has one of the most famous cuisines in the world and it has spread with the Chinese people to all corners of the earth. Never-the-less, China is the best place to experience the part that food and eating plays in the everyday life of the Chinese people.
Chopsticks were developed about 5,000 years ago in China. It is likely that people cooked their food in large pots which retained heat well, and the hungry then broke twigs off trees to retrieve the food.
Chinese eating utensils normally consist of chopsticks, spoons, bowls. Forks are not used on the table and never can you see knives. It is thought that Confucius who was a vegetarian, advised people not to use knives at the table because knives would remind them of the slaughterhouse. Another reason may be because the Chinese take their meals very seriously, and they feel that the meal table should be a place of peace and harmony. The knife could be used as a weapon, and could disrupt the harmony of the table is therefore banned from the table.
Chopsticks are made from are two long, thin, tapered, pieces of wood. Bamboo has been the most popular material of chopsticks because it is inexpensive, readily available, easy to split, resistant to heat, and has no perceptible odor or taste. Cedar, sandalwood, teak, pine, and bone have also been used. The wealthy, however, often had chopsticks made from jade, gold, bronze, brass, agate, coral, ivory, and silver. In fact, during dynastic times it was thought that silver chopsticks would turn black if they came into contact with poisoned food. It is now known that silver has no reaction to arsenic or cyanide, but if rotten eggs, onion, or garlic are used, the hydrogen sulfide they release might cause these chopsticks to change color.
Chopsticks are called "Kuaizi" in Chinese. This word is similar in pronunciation to the words for soon and son. Therefore, it is traditional in some areas to give chopsticks as a gift to newly-married couples, wishing them to have a baby soon.
There is some etiquette which is good to know when using chopsticks.
Do not stick chopsticks into your food, especially into rice. Chopsticks are stuck into the rice at funerals and placed and placed onto the altar. It will offend people to do this at the table.
Do not wave chopsticks around in the air or play with them a lot.
Most of the restaurants in China have forks available. If you can not use to chopsticks ask the restaurant staff for a forks or spoon.
"Thank you" Gesture
Tea is usually served as soon as you are seated in a restaurant. The staff will serve the tea while you read the menu and decide what to order. The tea pot is left on the table after every customer is served so that you may serve yourself.
It is polite to tap the table two or three times when the waiter or waitress has poured the tea, as a thank you gesture and to signify that you have had enough tea.
Bottled drinking is available cheaply, everywhere in China. Do not drink water directly form the tap.?
Loud talking and laughing is typical at a Chinese restaurant. People are to enjoy themselves when they get together and especially so when eating. Many people regard the noise level as an indication of the quality of the food. Restaurants will often provide individual small rooms to those who wish a quieter atmosphere.