Over thousands of years, eating culture in China has evolved into an eclectic set of unspoken rules that define how people and food interact. There are almost an infinite amount of topics, so we narrowed it down to the essentials.
Socializing Over Food
In China, food has become the common ground where people gather and socialize. This could be a dinner party, snacking on the street, or grabbing a quick milk tea late at night. Believe it or not, the food culture in China is like the drinking culture in western countries. Except there is usually alcohol at dinner so the end result isn't much different!
Festivals in China are where specialty foods really shine. Chinese people enjoy dumplings (Jiaozi) during Spring festival or Chinese New Year, rice balls with sweet seasame filling (Tangyuan) during Lantern Festival, and stuffed glutinous rice wrapped in bamboo leaves (Zongzi) during Dragon Boat Festival. Dragon boat festival actually originated from famous poet Chiu Yuan’s suicide. People threw Zongzi into the river so the fishes wouldn’t eat his body after he jumped in with a big rock tied to his body (sorry if that ruined your appetite). The point is, all of these foods are delicious and trying them should be on your to do list!
Figure 1: Pre-Made Dumplings
Figure 2: Pork Zongzi
From rural mud huts to marble mansions, houses in China will almost always have a set for brewing hot tea. It represents welcoming neighbors and guests into your home, and ties into how food and drink are interlaced with socializing in China. While many Americans have become accustomed to drinking 10 cent Lipton tea, Chinese tea has given birth to an entire market, with high end tea costing anywhere from $50 to over $20,000 for just a few grams.
Figure 3: Da Hong Pao, the most expensive tea in the world
That’s right, we gave you chopsticks.
Look like a pro next time you go to a Chinese restaurant.
Snack Spotlight: White Rabbit
Now that you’ve heard all about food culture in China, we want to zone in on one of the most famous snacks in our China box. White rabbit candies date back to 1943, when it was first created in Shanghai. As these candies rose to popularity, they became a common gift amongst leaders. In 1972, Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai gifted these to President Nixon during their monumental meeting to smooth relations between the U.S. and PRC. Today, you can find these in your China box. We want to remind you that to us, you are presidential. That is all.
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