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China Travel Essentials

Useful travel tips for dinning on China tours

There are many dining differences between Chinese and westerners. One of the most obvious is the presence of chopsticks instead of a knife and fork. Also, in the West, diners have their own plate for food, while in China the dishes are placed on the table and everyone eats from the central dishes. In restaurants, you can ask for a knife and fork, if you have trouble using chopsticks. If you are uncertain about using chopsticks, bring your own fork.

If you are being treated to a formal dinner and if the host knows you're in the country for the first time, he will do his best to give you a taste of many different types of dishes, by putting food onto your plate. At formal dinners, there are "public" chopsticks and spoons for serving from the central dish, but some hosts may use their own chopsticks. This is a sign of genuine friendship and politeness. It is polite to eat the food, but if you do not wish to eat it, just leave the food on your plate.

Chinese BanquetA Chinese meal usually begins with a set of at least four cold dishes, to be followed by the main courses of hot meat and vegetable dishes. Soup is then served (except in Guangdong style restaurants). After the soup, staple food, such as rice, noodles or dumplings is served. If you wish to have your rice with the other dishes, say so at the beginning of the meal, because most Chinese choose to have the staple food at the end of the meal.

Because they find it embarrassing if all the food is consumed, people in China tend to over-order food. When you have had enough, just say so, or you will always overeat!

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