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So You Are Eating Chinese – Don’t Do These Things

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So, you finally scored an invitation to dinner… aren’t you lucky?  And you didn’t invite us?  No worries, we’ve still got your covered.  Though we can’t tell you what to eat, we can tell you how to eat.  We know you want to eat like a native.  It is just as important to act like a native.  Mind your manners.  If not, there’s no telling where your meal is going to go.  But, if you do, you’re sure to have the time of your life, and perhaps, if you’re lucky, intelligent, and have a good sense of humor, get invited back again.

We know it’s hard to GET invited somewhere new. So, you’re best bet is to cultivate that relationship, and you’re bound to be welcomed back.

Without further ado, for we know you’re hungry and you really just want to dig in to your food and stuff it down your throats.  Don’t!  Read this article first.  Take it to heart.  SHARE it with your friends, and have that Chinese meal you’ve been craving all your life.

9 Chinese Dining Etiquette Tips

  1. keep-calm-do-not-do-itWhen dining, do not start to eat or drink prior to your host.
  2. When dining with a group and taking food from a common plate, use the implements provided and not your own chopsticks or fork, and choose the items closest to you even if you prefer something on the other side of the plate. As a cultural courtesy, you should taste all the dishes you are offered, but do not eat all of your meal or they will assume you did not receive enough food and are still hungry.
  3. Do not discuss business at meals.
  4. Sticking your chopsticks straight up in a bowl of noodles or rice is taboo in most every country in Asia — it symbolizes either death/stabbing in China
  5. Never tap your bowl with chopsticks — it’s how the homeless ask for food.
  6. When eating dim sum, if someone pours you tea, always tap three fingers on the table as a sign of gratitude.
  7. Don’t pour soy sauce on fried rice, because it’s already been seasoned.
  8. It’s considered rude to take food from a shared dish and put it immediately in your mouth.
  9. When eating a whole fish, don’t flip it over, as that symbolizes the capsizing of a boat.

Don’t let the first impression you make be the last impression that you make!

Please let us know how these tips work out for you.  And, if you have some additional ones to add, please post them in the comments section below and we will update this article.

Humbly submitted for your consumption,

Mee Magnum  (“Chop!  Chop!”)

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  1. Good tips. Mostly true. Here are a few more, but very few young Chinese people know these things, …

    1.) You should NEVER leave uneaten rice in your rice bowl … it is considered disrespectful to the rice farmers (and your hosts will get pock marks for each grain);

    2.) In China and Hong Kong serving chopsticks are NOT the norm. Most people use their own chopsticks to fetch things (as unhygienic as that is).

    3.) It is considered VERY polite to take the choicest pieces and put the in someone else’s bowl because they would be too polite to take them on their own accord):

    4.) The proper thing to dip spring rolls (egg rolls) in is Worcester Sauce – NEVER soy sauce;

    5.) When eating Shanghainese dumplings, you should put the entire thing in your mouth because they contain a bit a soup inside; if you bite them, it will dribble out;

    6.) If someone pours tea for you, you should tap two fingers on the table twice (which signifies a kowtow); but this is a Cantonese custom; people in other parts of China don’t do it;

    All I can think of. Love your blog!

  2. There are some interesting suggestions here. The one about leaving food on my plate goes against the grain of all that I was taught. We were always told that we should clean our plates because there were people in China who were starving. So much for that theory.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host

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