Eating Custom in China
There is a saying in China, food is better than medicine for health. Chinese people cares for what they eat.
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No matter what their financial status are, rich or poor, people at different levels try to eat good food. Food plays such an important role in people's daily life and social activities that there emerge different food customs for festivals, religions, weddings, funerals and for birthday parties, etc.
In social activities, friends and relatives like to gather around table. When something happens, such as someone giving birth to a baby or moving to a new house, friends and relatives would give some presents. As a return, the host would like to treat them to a sumptuous dinner. People also do business at table. It is usually the case that a business is done while the two parties enjoy the delicious dishes.
Food Custom varies from place to place. In Beijing for instance, people used to treat guest with noodles, inviting him to stay. If the guest does stay, he would have a chance to eat dumplings at the host's hospitality. When visiting friends or relatives, people liked to take pastries with them. In rural areas in south China, visiting guest would first have some tea. Then the host would boil some egg or glutinous rice cake, mixed with sugar for him before preparing the meal.
In Fujian in east China, some local People would prepare some fruit, especially oranges, which stands for sweetness and luck according to local dialect.
People at different places arrange banquet in different ways, too. In Beijing, the banquet includes at least eight cold dishes and eight hot dishes. In north China's Heilongjiang province, dish comes in double numbers. In some other places, fish is a must as it stands for wealth. But nothing comes more varied when there is food activity related with marriage. People go to restaurant when making a proposal of marriage, choosing the mate, announcing engagement and at wedding ceremony. Even the meal after the marriage is meaningful when the newly wed pays visit to their in-laws a few days after the wedding. But of course, the wedding banquet is the grandest. At some places in Shaanxi province in west China, every course at the wedding banquet means something. The first course would have red meat meaning happiness. The second course shows people's wish for happy family gathering. The third one is an eight-treasure rice pudding. It usually contains eight kinds of ingredients such as red bean paste, raisins, various nuts and seeds, and preserved fruits, expressing people's wish for the newly wed to live together forever. In some places in Jiangsu of east China, the wedding banquet would contain 16, 24 or 36 dishes. Wedding in cities is splendid, too. No matter how different, they all express people's wish for luck.
Birthday feast for the elderly is another commonly celebrated activity, with noodles usually being the main food as a wish for longevity. In Hangzhou and Suzhou in east China, people eat noodles at noon and arrange banquet at dinner. In Hangzhou, when Eating noodles, everybody takes some noodles from their own bowl to give to the person who celebrates. Everybody have to eat two bowls of noodles yet the bowl shouldn't be full. Otherwise it's unlucky.
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