Real Chinese Food, what is it? For those of you living in parts of the world where
there isn’t much of a Chinese population with a Chinatown, you will undoubtedly associate
real Chinese Food with Chicken Balls, Fried Rice and Egg Rolls.
You have been exposed to North Americanized Chinese Food!
The Chinese immigrants of
generations ago who opened up the first Chinese restaurants amongst the westerners
were smart business people. They knew and understood the concept of meeting the
needs of your target audience. They created a menu of items that they believed that
their neighborhood westerners would like and buy. So it is not real Chinese Food.
When they are done serving you, they go back to the kitchen and make themselves
a real Chinese meal.
So What is Real Chinese Food?
Similar to the potato to westerners, rice is the center of the Chinese diet. But
you are thinking about potato as a side dish. Let me paint the picture this way:
the Chinese eat rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Their cereal is congee which
is a Rice Porridge very much like rice soup. It is sometimes eaten plain or pieces
of meat such as chicken, pork or beef are added.
Dim Sum is a lunch feast which can be found in some parts of larger Chinese populated
cities in North America. It’s a smorgasbord of dumplings made of or shrimp and pork.
You will find more exotic items such as chicken feet and pig feet. It’s interesting
to get your reaction when you see someone chewing and sucking a chicken toe - nails
Eating Real Chinese Food with the Dreaded Chopsticks
Chopsticks Photo Credit: Penny Mathews
My friends and family either love or hate using chopsticks. I actually prefer using
my fork even eating Chinese food. But that’s just a personal preference because
I find it takes less effort.
For those of who who think it might be fun and cool to eat with chopsticks, here
are some tips:
The trick is to hold the bottom stick stationary while the top stick moves and pivots
to hold onto food.
Don’t try using your chopsticks as a knife and try to cut food unless you want to
embarrass yourself. Chinese Food is usually cut in small pieces prior to cooking.
So no further cutting is required. If a piece of food is too big, you need to be
barbaric and rip the food in pieces with your front teeth. Sorry.
Don’t try using the chopsticks to pick up rice grains. It is a sure sign of a novice
in Chinese food. The Chinese simply use the chopsticks like a shovel and shovel
the rice from their bowl to their mouths.
Where are your Table Manners?
If you are were raised with proper table manners, you might find eating a meal with
the Chinese sometimes a little chaotic.
Chinese meals are shared community style. You get a bowl with white rice for yourself.
All other dishes are placed in the center of the table and shared.
It’ll be noisy. The Chinese will slurp their soup and shove rice into their mouths.
Burping out loud especially with the older generation is acceptable culture.