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Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Orient-ation - Foodies Part IIPosted Saturday, April 12, 2008, at 11:39 PM
China has its own eating culture which is very different from our own. In some cases it's better and in some cases it's worse. For example:
Imagine you and your special someone decide to go out to dinner. You both swagger in, take a seat, and order your favorite dish.
"You look beautiful," he says.
You're looking forward to enjoying a delicious meal. You've ordered something very special; something you don't get very often but you crave it every week. You can't decide which is better, the date that you brought with you or the amazing food that you've never had an excuse to order until now.
The waitress comes out with the plate, steaming hot, mouth-watering. Your nose picks up the intense aroma. The flavors. You're seething
Then she places it...IN THE CENTER OF THE FRICKEN TABLE!
Your date immediately ploughs into it as if they haven't had a meal in weeks. They hoover every inch of the plate within seconds graciously leaving you two bites to enjoy. Your life is now over.
Food is put in the center and it doesn't matter how much you LIKE IT, if you have a party of 6, you won't get more than 3 bites of it. The procedure isn't always like this but it does happen, and as a lover of all things delicious - it makes me sad.
All is not sad in the world of Chinese dining, though. Food is extremely important here. In some aspects it's almost sacred. It's a time to relax and become closer with your loved ones. And ordering several plates of food allow for an amazing variety in your diet. Don't like Dish #4? No problem. Just eat #1-#3 and you'll still be a happy camper. You order a bad dish in Country Kitchen and you're toast. Or bacon.
Sometimes you can attempt to grab an item with your chopsticks and "run into" another person's chopsticks attempting to grab the same item. It's a cute, awkward moment.
However, sometimes you also get the humbling experience of realizing that you suck because you can't pick up a peanut. And to top off your humiliating - Someone will hand you a spoon or do it for you. Welcome to being a toddler again!
Eating with your hands is fairly barbaric here, and they use fork and knives to cut their pizza. However, using fork and knives is kind of a novelty for them, like us using chopsticks. They very delicately pick up the fork and knife and cut the pizza as if they're attending a fancy dinner party. They marvel at my ability to cut the pizza with only my fork, using one hand and no knife. This is a skill that they lack.
We also use forks to stab food whereas they "scoop" food as if they're using a spoon. I never realized that using a fork was a skill set but we simply use utensils in a different way sometimes. Occasionally I show off how disgustingly piggish I am by mawing the food with my grubby paws and stuffing the pizza down my throat. THAT'S the real way to eat a pizza. Do it!
You'll also find that Pizza Hut is a fancy restaurant here. Really. I'm not joking. The first time I walked into that place I marveled at all the fancy floors and wall coverings. The place looks amazing and the service is pretty great, too. Gone is the sniveling 16 year old who messes up my order 3 times in a row and in is the self-assurant, attractive Chinese waitress who never misses a beat.
Eating here, or anywhere for that matter is usually in your favor to be a nice guy. The exchange rate is 7RMB-1 Dollar right now, so I can eat a meal by myself for 6RMB or 1 Dollar. That means you can spend about 3 Dollars a day on food. If you want to be *fancy* and go to *Pizza Hut* then you can spend $20-$50, treat everyone, and be a hero for the day.
This isn't to say that Chinese people won't do the same. The amount of money they spend on meals, treating their friends, is Un-Be-Lievable. One guy will take out 5 of his friends to the most expensive restaurant, and think nothing of throwing down 1,000-2,000 RMB and buy everyone's meal.
Can you imagine walking into a restaurant with all your buddies and spending TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS?! These dudes aren't rich. They're just like you and me, but dagnabbit, if they say they're going to treat you good, they mean it. It's a kind of generous finesse that we lack.
Or maybe I'm just too greedy sometimes.
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