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9 Things You Should Never Do When Eating Chinese Food
If you’ve ever found yourself getting some serious side-eye from your waitress, check yourself: Were you completely ignoring Chinese food etiquette?
Never “pop” a soup dumpling.
Soup dumplings, or xiao long bao as they’re called in China, aren’t like pistachios: They’re not meant to be eaten any number of creative ways. The correct – and polite – way to chow down is by lightly biting the skin of the dumpling and slurping the broth before eating the rest of it.
Don’t put soy sauce on your fried rice.
You know how some chefs consider it rude to salt your food at the table? Adding soy sauce to your rice offends Chinese cooks in the same way. The idea is that they’ve already seasoned your food to perfection, so you shouldn’t need to add anything more.
Never cross your chopsticks on the table.
Chinese people associate anything in an “x” symbol with denial. By putting your chopsticks in that formation, you’re essentially denying your company.
The proper way to serve yourself and others is by holding the handle of the teapot in one hand and pressing the lid with the other as you pour.
There’s a correct way to use your chopsticks on a communal dish.
Turn them around so the end that touches the food is not the one you’ve been putting into your mouth all night.
Don’t stick your chopsticks straight into your rice.
In China, it’s tradition to stick burning incense into rice to honor the dead, so doing the same with your chopsticks is bad form.
Lift your cup with two hands when making a toast.
This tradition is more symbolic now than when it began centuries ago. Having your left hand on your cup in addition to your right would signify that you were unarmed. It’s also seen as polite to grab a cup with two hands when it’s handed to you.
Chinese restaurants often have whole fish on the menu, but if you order one, beware of the specific way to polish it off. Once you eat one side of the fish, pull the bone out and continue eating it. Flipping it over symbolizes the fishermen’s boats capsizing.
Don’t tap your chopsticks against your bowl.
It’s how homeless people in the country ask for food, and it’s seen as disrespectful to do so at the table.