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Chinese Food Culture
Chinese simply choose chopsticks as their tableware rather than knife and fork since Chinese people, under cultivation of Confucianism, consider knife and fork bearing sort of violence, like cold weapons. However, chopsticks reflect gentleness and benevolence, the main moral teaching of Confucianism.
Chopsticks are two long, thin, usually 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.
Chopsticks are called "Kuaizi" in Chinese which resembles the pronunciation of other two words, soon and son. Therefore, it is a tradition in some areas to give chopsticks as a gift to newly-married couples, wishing them to have a baby soon.
Chinese food seems to taste better eaten with chopsticks which are the special utensil Chinese use to dine. It will be an awkward experience for foreigners to use chopsticks to have a meal. Fortunately, learning to eat with chopsticks is not difficult.
The truth of using chopsticks is holding one chopstick in place while pivoting the other one to pick up a morsel. How to position the chopsticks is the course you have to learn. First, place the first chopstick so that thicker part rests at the base of your thumb and the thinner part rests on the lower side of your middle fingertip. Then, bring your thumb forward so that the stick will be firmly trapped in place. At least two or three inches of chopstick of the thinner end should extend beyond your fingertip. Next, position the other chopstick so that it is held against the side of your index finger by the end of your thumb. Check whether the ends of the chopsticks are even. If not, then tap the thinner parts on the plate to make them be even. Ok, now you are going to practice. Just place a little pressure on the upper chopstick, the one against your index finger, to make it pivot on the index finger while keep the bottom chopstick stationary. Isn't it easy?
After a little practice, you can use them to enjoy your Chinese food. Certainly in the first a few attempts, you have to take care.
There are superstitions associated with chopsticks too. If you find an uneven pair at your table setting, it means you are going to miss a boat, plane or train. Dropping chopsticks will inevitably bring bad luck. Crossed chopsticks are, however, permissible in a dim sum restaurant. The waiter will cross them to show that your bill has been settled, or you can do the same to show the waiter that you have finished and are ready to pay the bill.
Table manners
In China, people tend to eat together, usually the host will serve you some dishes with his or her own chopsticks to show his or her hospitality. Since this is different with the Western customs, you can leave the food alone if you feel too awkward. There are some other rules you are suggested to follow to make your stay in China happier, though you will be forgiven if you have no idea what they are.
Never stick your chopsticks upright in the rice bowl, since that usually appears on the funeral and is deemed extremely impolite to the host and seniors present.
Make sure the spout of the teapot is not facing anyone. The proper way is make it direct outward from the table.
Don't tap on your bowl with your chopsticks, since that will be deemed insult to the host or the chef.
Never try to turn a fish over and debone it yourself, since the separation of the fish skeleton from the lower half of the flesh will usually be performed by the host or a waiter. Superstitious people will deem bad luck will ensue and a fishing boat will capsize otherwise.
Food Symbolism
In China, foods are given different meanings, so that in certain occasion a kind of food, can only be eaten by some specific individuals, or a kind of food must be eaten in specific occasion.
Usually, an honored guest will be served a snapper's head or shell to hail him and show warmly welcome in some districts.
Long noodle is the symbol of longevity in China, so that youngsters or seniors all will have a bowl of Long Life Noodle to expect a healthy life.
In Central China, if a baby is born, his father will send Red Boiled Egg to announce the news. An even number, usually six or eight, of Red Boiled Egg with a black point dotted on one end will be delivered for a boy, and an odd number, usually five or seven without black point for a girl.
Fish is always served to symbolize prosperity and wealth accumulation in the New Year's Eve.
There are other foods and snacks symbolizing good wishes under special circumstances, such as duck, chicken and melon seeds.
What to Eat?
There are totally eight dish systems in China. An excellent Chinese cuisine should be gratifying simultaneously in sight, smell, touch, taste and even sound.
The first three schools of cuisine,Sichuan Dish,Shandong Dish and Guangdong Dish are most pricinple and famous dish systems.
Sichuan Dish: the flavor is mainly sour, tingling, spicy and piquant
Typical courses:
  English Chinese(pronunciation)
  Sliced Cold Chicken xiao jianji
  Twice Cooked Pork hui guo rou
  Shredded Pork and Hot Sauce yuxiang rousi
  Spicy Hot Bean Curd mapo doufu
  Hot Pot huoguo
  Fish Flavored Eggplant yuxiang qiezi
  Reflecting Beef dengying niurou
  Couple's Beef Fillet fuqi feipian
Shandong Dish: is characterized by its emphasis on aroma, freshness, crispness and tenderness; the flavor is mainly light, fresh and tender
Typical courses:
  English Chinese(pronunciation)
  Trumpet Shell Braised In Soy Sauce hongshao hailuo
  Sweet And Sour Carp tangcu liyu
  Dezhou Stewed Chicken dezhou paji
  Caramelized Apples basi pingguo
Guangdong Dish: good at cooking snakes, racoon dogs and monkeys; the flavor is mainly light, crisp, tasty and fresh
Typical courses:
  English Chinese(pronunciation)
  Shark's Fin Soup yuchi tang
  Steamed Sea Bass qingzhen luyu
  Roasted Piglet kao ruzhu
  Iron Plate Beef tieban niurou
  Sweet and Sour Pork gulao rou
Anhui Dish: its features are stressing oil, sauce color and fire
Typical courses:
  English Chinese(pronunciation)
  Huangshan Braised Pigeon huangshan zhengge
  Hot Diced Pork shenjin rouding
  Wuwei Smoked Duck Wuwei xunya
Hunan Dish: stresses tasty materials and its flavors highlight hot and sour
Typical courses:
  English Chinese(pronunciation)
  Dong'an Chick dong'an ziji
  Peppery and Hot Chick mala ziji
  Lotus Seedpods With Crystal Sugar bingtang xianglian
Jiangsu Dish: the flavors is moderate, palatably sweet and salty; full of nutrition
Typical courses:
  English Chinese(pronunciation)
  Stewed Crab with Clear Soup qingzheng xie
  Long-boiled and Dry-shredded Meat qingdun xiefen shizitou
  Crystal Meat shuijing yaoti
  Jinling Salted Dried Duck jinling yanshui ya
Zhejiang Dish: the flavor is light and fresh, tender and elaborate
Typical courses:
  English Chinese(pronunciation)
  Sour West Lake Fish xihu cuyu
  Longjing Shelled Shrimp longjing xiaren
  Beggar's Chicken jiaohua ji
Fujian Dish: characterized by pleasant color, light and fresh flavor; the flavor is light, sweet and sour
Typical courses:
  English Chinese(pronunciation)
  Buddha Jumping Over the Wall fo tiaoqiang
  Snow Chicken xuehua ji
  Prawn with Dragon's Body and Phoenix's tail fengwei xia
Besides, Shanghai dish and Beijng dish are also highly recommended. They are so delicious that even its aroma could make you lick your chaps. If you are just in Beijing or Shanghai, do not forget to taste some local dish.
Beijing dish:has combined many advantages of other dish systems and becomes epicures' focus because of its own elegance, fresh flavor, and magnificence.
Typical Beijing dishes:
  English Chinese(pronunciation)
  Beijing Roast Duck Beijing kaoya
  Instant-Boiled Mutton Mongolian Hot Pot shuan yangrou
  Braised Shark's Fin huangmen yuchi
  Sauteed Chicken With Green Peppers jiangbao jiding
  Sweet Cake With Dates saqima
Beijing Roast Duck has the reputation of being the most delicious food Beijing has to offer. Eating Beijing Roast Duck is regarded as one of the two things you are absolutely supposed to do while in Beijing. The other one is climbing the Great Wall.
It was made by heating the duck-stuffed with a mince of sheep's tripe, parsley, scallion, and salt-on a charcoal fire.
The two famous restaurants that serve Beijing Roast Duck are Bianyifang Roast Duck Restaurant and Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant, both of which have a history of over one hundred years. They represent two different schools of roasting duck.
Different from the magnificence showed in the Beijing dish, Shanghai dish, stresses natural beauty and pursues simplicity and elegance. It is the youngest one in Chinese dish systems with a history only more than 400 years. Except its dishes, Shanghai snacks, such as Zongzi, Tangyuan (a kind of dumpling made with sticky rice), cat ears (a kind of cookie) are also well known.
Shanghai dish
Typical Shanghai dishes:
  English Chinese(pronunciation)
  Sour and Hot Soup with Eel and Chicken longfeng suanla tang
  Black Sea Cucumber with Shrimp Roe xiazi dawushen
  Duck with Prawn Rounds ruyi ya juan xian
  Shrimps of Two Colors shuangse xiaren
  Boiled Crucian Carp with Clam geli cuan jiyu
  Steamed Beef in Rice Flour yuanlong fenzheng niurou
Also, you may taste the court food and vegetarian food, which are all of unique flavors and nutrition.
Various nonalcoholic and alcoholic drinks are available in China. Tea, as the most popular drink in China, is also welcomed by foreigners.
  Nonalcoholic drinks: Alcoholic drinks:
  Tea cha Beer pijiu
  Coffee kafei Whiskey weishiji jiu
  Mineral Water kuang quan shui Vodka futejia jiu
  Milk niunai Grape Wine putao jiu
  Fruit Juice guo zhi Rice Wine mi jiu
  Coca-cola kekou kele Champagne xiangbing jiu
  Soda qishui Yellow Wine huangjiu
  Yoghurt suannai Cocktail jiwei jiu
Typical dishes
Jiaozi (steamed or boiled (shuijiao) dumplings)
Guotie (fried dumplings)
Xiao Long Bao (soup dumplings)
Noodles Fried noodles Noodle soup
Kung Pao chicken
Fried pancakes (including green onion pancakes)
Zongzi (glutinous rice wrapped in bamboo leaves, usually with a savory or sweet filling)
Peking Duck - the trademark dish of Beijing
Baozi (filled steamed buns)
Dim sum - originated in Guangzhou (Canton) and Hong Kong
Steamed fish
Tofu dishes
Snack foods
Soy egg (lǔ dàn): hard boiled egg, cooked in soy sauce
Tea egg (chá yè dàn): hard boiled egg soaked or stewed in tea
Congee (zhou1): rice porridge
Pickled vegetables (jiang4 cai4; lit. sauced vegetables)
Soy milk (dou4 nai3 or dou4 jiang1) in either sweet or "salty" form
Youtiao , "Cow tongue pastry" , or other fried chinese doughfoods
Shaobing, a flaky baked or pan-seared dough pastry.
Rice balls (fan4 tuan2) with savory fillings or coatings
Mantou (steamed bun)
Baozi (filled bun)
White rice
Chinese noodles
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