The Chinese is by far one of the most famous foods in the world. Almost everyone has tried it at least once in their country, but the truth is that there is a huge misunderstanding. The dishes we try in our own country are very different to what you eat in China. In our case, we have loved Chinese food during our whole life, and when we visited the country, we realized about how different it is. We still liked it, but it was very different. Here are the top 10 most interesting facts about Chinese food.
1) Why do they use chopsticks?
One of the most curious facts about the food in China is of course related to the use of chopsticks. No matter if it´s on a restaurant in your country, or somewhere in China, you will always have chopsticks to eat, and if you want to use a fork and a knife, you will have to ask for it…but, why does that happen?
Well, a long time ago for Chinese locals it was inappropriate to use a fork or a knife while eating as they were considered weapons and something dangerous.
For that reason, the food was prepared in small pieces, that way it was easier to pick up with the sticks. By the way, how well do you handle the sticks from 1 to 10? We are pretty bad at it.
2) China uses around 45 billion pairs of chopsticks.
Don´t worry not all the Chinese food facts are about the chopsticks, but we had to tell you about this one as it´s very shocking. In China there is an average of 2/3 chopsticks per person per month, and believe us, it´s a lot! Remember that there are around 1.4 billion people living in the country.
Imagine how bad is the situation, that the government has apply a tax for the disposable chopstick with the goal of reducing its usage.
Most of the chopsticks are made of bamboo, and it is calculated that such a big amount is equal to 100 square miles and 50.000 tones.
3) The truth about spring rolls
Spring rolls are probably the most famous Chinese food in the world, and almost every restaurant has it on their menus. Well, the truth is that they are made in a different way than what we are used to see. Oh, and they are not so popular in China neither.
Although they are known internationally, when talking about China, this delicious food is only common in the regions located in the south of the Yangtze River.
What is more surprising is that while in countries like the United States the spring roll is huge and it measures almost like a burger, in China it measures way less, and you will need to have more than one to be full. Last of all, in China, they normally make it only with vegetables inside…they don´t add meat to it.
4) There are 8 culinary cuisines.
A very interesting information about Chinese food is that although they follow all kinds of cooking styles, the authentic experts on the food of China have recognized just eight culinary cuisines.
Fujian, Anhui, Cantonese, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Shandong, Sichuan and Hunan are the eight Chinese cooking styles identified by the experts and of course their “rules” are followed by the population of the country.
5) Each of the foods have a different meaning.
You probably have heard before that Chinese people can be a little bit superstitious sometimes, right? Well, that also applies to their food.
The meaning depends on the shape, color, pronunciation, and of course the history of that food. This means that sometimes you are not supposed to be eating one type of food, and it also means that in specific events you will have to eat some special foods.
For example, in New Year is almost mandatory to eat fish as it means there will be prosperity for the year to come. Another example is the sweet round rice balls, they are eaten during the Lantern Festival, and they mean reunion. For many people this is one of those weird facts about Chinese food, but we actually find it very interesting.
6) Eating on round tables.
One of the traditional Chinese food facts that surprised us the most on our trip was that they always eat on round tables. At the beginning we didn´t really appreciate it, but at the end of the trip we understood the sense of it.
This round tables have a crystal on the top that you can move from one side to another, and on top of it is where you place the different foods. People sit together, share the dishes and whenever you want a specific food, you just need to move the crystal and reach it.
It´s a very smart way of eating, specially when you are having lunch or dinner with many people. It allows you to be “close” to everyone, not like in the big tables where is impossible to have a conversation with the one that is located on the other side.
7) Don´t tip on a restaurant!
It´s not a rule and depending on the area tipping has a different impact on the people, but that´s why in general we advise you to not tip as it could have very bad consequences.
The first reason why you should not tip is because you will probably cause them stress. For example, if you leave money on the table of a restaurant, as soon as they see it, they will have a huge argument between chasing you to give you the money back or leaving the money there until you come to get it back.
Getting a tip in China for many people is a synonym of charity, and they could feel inferior to you. The worst comes on airports and some special place where it´s illegal and you could get in real trouble. Generally, in tourist areas there is not problem at all, but we don´t recommend you do it…just in case!
8) Is there any staple food?
Another very interesting Chinese food fact is that they do have a staple food, but it´s different depending on the area of the country. In our country, Spain, everyone has bread on every single food, no matter if you are in the south or the north, well in China it´s different.
While in the north of China they always have wheat noodles, in the south they always eat with rice or maybe rice noodles. It´s true that they respect each other, and in most of the places you can find both options, but their custom is very different on this subject.
9) Why do they drink hot water?
It´s time to tell you one of those health facts about Chinese food, which by the way we discovered it as soon as we got on the plane to the country.
We are that kind of people who always drink water (we are not big fans of alcohol and soda drinks), and of course on the plane to China, we ordered it, but we got surprised because they served it warm. At the beginning we didn´t really think about it, but after that, it happened so many times that we decided to ask. They told us that warm water allows your body to have a better digestion and many other good consequences. For that reason, in 99% of the occasions you will only see hot water.
The same happens with the tea, they have it in almost every single meal of the day.
10) Do they have fortune cookies in china?
Of course, we had to talk about the famous Chinese fortune cookies. After seeing them during your whole life at the restaurants of your countries and in movies, you may think it is an actual Chinese tradition, right?
Well, we are sorry to tell you it isn´t! Fortune cookies do not exist in China, and you will only see them in western countries.
11) Weird dishes for foreigners
We are finishing our 10 facts about Chinese food with the one that you were all waiting for. Everyone has heard about the Chinese markets where they sell scorpions or dog pots, well, you should know that the majority of those foods are not common in the majority of the country.
In most of the cases, they prepare all those foods for tourists, but only in specific areas of the country are an authentic meal.
Some very weird dishes you may be able to find are crickets, scorpions, snakes, rats…
Hope you enjoyed learning about the food facts in China!
Those were just ten of the million fun facts about Chinese food we could tell you about. It´s true that the food in China is very weird and unique, but it´s also true that it´s delicious and if you ever visit the country, we recommend you trying as many dishes as you can.
Hope this article was useful, and if you have any other question, please let us know!