Chinese Table Manners

Chinese table manners are different from other countries. Some countries, especially western countries, everyone has their own plate of food, while in China the dishes are placed on the table and everybody shares.

The following are some rules:
1. Never stick your chopsticks upright in the rice bowl, lay them on your dish instead. Otherwise, it is deemed extremely impolite to the host and seniors present. The reason for this is that when somebody dies, the shrine to them contains a bowl of sand or rice with two sticks of incense stuck upright in it. So if you stick your chopsticks in the rice bowl, it looks like the shrine and is equivalent to wishing death upon a person at the table.

2. Make sure the spout of the teapot is not facing anyone. It is impolite to set the teapot down where the spout is facing towards somebody. The spout should always be directed to where nobody is sitting, usually just outward from the table.

3. Don’t tap on your bowl with your chopsticks, since that will be deemed insult to the host or the chef. Beggars tap on their bowls, and also, when the food is coming too slow in a restaurant, people will tap their bowls. If you are in someone’s home, it is like insulting the host or the cook.

4. Never try to turn a fish over and debone it yourself, since the separation of the fish skeleton from the lower half of the flesh will usually be performed by the host or a waiter. Superstitious people deem bad luck will ensue and a fishing boat will capsize if you do so. This is especially true to southerners in China (to be specific, such as Guangdong, Guangxi and Fujian provinces, etc.), since, traditionally, southerners are the fishing population.

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