Dining is one of the most important social gatherings in Chinese culture. The Chinese are great lovers of food and their social occasions involve enjoyment of food. Different occasions are celebrated with different foods. Meals are considered an important part of the Chinese culture. It is important to educate ourselves with the basic dining etiquettes in the Chinese food culture.
The culture of dining etiquette originated in ancient times. It has divisions according to the social strata like folk societies, local authorities, and local society and so on. In today’s Chinese culture, the dining etiquette depends largely on the formality of the event, the place of dinning and relationship of the people dining together. The Chinese spend lavishly on food. They prefer to organize meals in large and expensive restaurants with private rooms.
The seating arrangement is also a significant part of the Chinese dinning etiquette. The seats are arranged in the left and face the east. The seat at the entrance is especially reserved for the eldest member of the family by hierarchy. The other seats are reserved for those with a lower position. The guest takes the seat of honor in the family banquet and the master takes the other less prominent seat. The guest of honor is the first to take the seat and begin dining. The reverse is simply not allowed in the dinning etiquettes in Chinese culture.
In a grand banquet, the seat of the guest of honor is placed in the middle at the front. The other tables are arranged on the both right and left side. In the Chinese banquette culture, people take the seat according to their status, identity and the degree of relationship. The art of using chopsticks is very essential in the Chinese dining etiquette. It creates a good impression on the host. It is not allowed to place the chopstick in the food at the time of drinking or speaking. The guest tastes all the offered food as a sign of respect. The bones are placed on a special bowl and not on the table. The rice bowl is placed close to the mouth while eating the food. The guest slurps the soup after the meal to show that he has enjoyed the food.
It is important to leave some food on the plate after the meal. A clean plate is a sign that the guest is not fully done eating. This makes the host add food continuously to the bowl. It is also necessary to compliment the host for each dish and thank them for the meal with an expression of joy. The invitation of dining at home is a great honor in the Chinese food culture. The guest should carry a small gift as a sign of thanks giving.
The Chinese people feel proud of themselves because of their great cuisines. The development of the eating culture adds to the etiquettes in their food habits. Since food is a necessity for people, the Chinese have much respect and admiration for their food culture. And the dining etiquette is a big part of it.
(1) It is considered rude to pour your own drink without offering to pour someone else’s drink first. Actually, in Korean banquets, it is common etiquette to never pour your own drink. Instead, you let the host or someone else pour your drink for you, and then you return the favor to him or her.
(2) Most people are aware that in both cultures, you should never stick your chopsticks straight up in your rice bowl. This is taboo in both cultures.
(3) Both cultures like to fight over the bill. Typically, Americans like to be treated out to dinner, while Chinese and Koreans love to treat you to dinner. Even though you are the one being invited by your host to lunch or dinner, it is common courtesy to fight for the bill even though your host is expected to pay for it. Otherwise, it is rude not to put in any effort to prevail over the bill.
(4) Chinese people have a greater tendency to talk over dinner, which is why many restaurants can seem like festivals in an auditorium.
(5) Chinese people always leave the rice bowl on the table when eating rice (strong cultural influence from our maternal grandmother). Personally, I find holding a bowl of rice to my mouth very awkward.
(6) Chinese almost always use chopsticks.