Sitting down to eat a traditional Chinese meal with friends is one of the best parts about living in China and one of the best ways to experience Chinese culture. Every so often, my colleagues invite me to join them for such a meal, and this time, I’m bringing you along with me.
Chinese are communal eaters, so every dish on the table is shared. One of the signature features of a traditional Chinese meal is a circular table with a rotating platform holding all the dishes. There’s no need to pass food around when the table does all the work itself.
Nobody likes to drink alone, especially in Chinese culture. It’s considered impolite to drink your beer or wine unless a toast has been made and others join you. A toast to others is a characteristic of Chinese dining, starting with the host first, then moving around the table over the corse of the meal. This is particularly common during business dinners, where it’s not uncommon to experience pressure from your 老板 to finish your glass every time you drink.
We devoured steamed sea bass, stir-fried squid tentacles, pork ribs, grilled shrimp, cabbage salad and baked bread. Then we had the privilege of concluding our dinner with delicious pork dumplings. Near the end of the meal, a starchy dish such as noodles or dumplings is served to ensure that everybody leaves the table feeling satisfied.
If you watched the video, you might be wondering why I’m eating on two different tables. That’s because our party was too big for one table, so we had to split it up into two rooms. I hope you had fun joining me and my friends today as we enjoyed this delicious traditional Chinese meal in Rizhao.