Chinese Eating and Drinking Customs

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Socializing around food and mealtimes is very important to the Chinese. Much of Chinese family life revolves around the dinner table. Traditionally, Chinese believed it was impolite to talk too much while eating. A good meal was regarded as too special to be spoiled by conversation.

Instead of having food served on individual plates, the Chinese eat from a common dish in the middle of a round table. Diners are expected to place food on a small plate or on a bowl of rice in front of them but often they plunge their chopsticks into a shared dish and eat straight from that. When eating Chinese reach across one another, pass dishes, pour each other drinks and put food on each other’s plate.

Chinese food is served in courses. A typical Chinese meal consists of rice, one to four meat or fish main courses, two vegetable dishes and one soup. The courses are often eaten one at a time. Soup is usually served after the main course instead of before it. Sometimes drinks aren’t served. Soup is used to wash down a meal instead of drinks. The Chinese are not big on desserts. Meals are often capped off with fruit not cake, pies or ice cream.

Chinese usually eat from a bowl or small plate. When eating from a bowl they place spoonfuls of the main dish and sauce on rice in the bowl and bring the bowl close to their mouth and scoop the food into their mouth with chopsticks.