If you have never been to the kingdom of the middle then you probably misunderstand the crap sold in Chinese restaurants in your country as “Chinese food”. You are totally mistaken. Ignore the superstitions that all Chinese people are eating dog meat – dog meat is considered a specialty merely in some regions of China so there is lots of other food to choose from. While the people in southern China (around Guangdong) will probably eat everything with four legs except a table and everything with wings except an airplane, people from other regions sometimes do not really enjoy that kind of food. Either way, if you are looking for fried bees, scorpions, snakes, or any other weird things, you will find them if you look hard enough. But beware: this can be a hard task for you.
Since the country is having a hard time with lots of food scandals you will even eat things that you did not want to eat – and which are not really the healthiest. Some of the more recent scandals include mixing milk powder with unhealthy substances, selling rat meat instead of mutton, tweaking pig meat with chemicals for so long that it looked like beef, or my personal favorite, the so called “gutter oil”. Some really smart people had the great idea that fat swims above water, so they went to the closest sewers and went fishing for some fat swimming there above the feces. After cooking it for a little while it was sold again as cheap oil, especially for the small street shops.
Let us stop looking at the partly true superstitions and focus more on the good Chinese food: Rice and Noodles are the basics here. You would think. Actually, while these components can be part of a simple meal in middle-class restaurants and upwards they are merely served in the end to fill the reminding free space you might have in your tummy. Even while the Chinese government is appealing to the people to reduce waste of food there is still a tendency of ordering too much food to be polite or even impress the people who are around you.
So much for the description of food. But since you are reading a guide on how to become Chinese you should consider these hints:
Learn how to eat with chopsticks. D’uh. This is too obvious I guess, but while some things seem to wrap themselves around the chopsticks and become really easy to eat other types of food might be really challenging, especially slim noodles in a soup. If you are not in one of the most plain restaurants ever the food will be in the middle of the table and everybody will pick what he or she wants with their own chopsticks. Try everything. If there are still bones mixed with the meat do not be afraid. This is common in many dishes. Ignore or appreciate the mode of presentation, e.g. the baked rabbit head smiling at you next to the remains of his baked body. Be happy that you get fresh food and don’t forget that – especially in upper class restaurants – this poor animal in front of you may have been jumping or swimming around in front of your nose merely half an hour ago. Simply do not ask what you are eating. If somebody tells you that this food is “good for men” eat more of it to increase your sexual potency. Mostly it is simply some kind of vegetable, meat, or fruit that somehow resembles a stick.
When you come back from a trip and friends of you ask you how the trip went tell them that the food was really good. With this most Chinese people will be satisfied as an outline of your trip. And while eating, tell the others how good it tastes – and ask others, how good the food is. You can even let the people who are not with you right now enjoy what you are eating – looking at the pictures in social media according to my impression at least twenty percent of the postings are pictures of food somebody is eating somewhere.
Get used to eating spicy food. It is amazing and your mouth will get adapted to it. Maybe not your tummy, and you might spend a long time in the bathroom the next day. But your mouth will.
Do not bother to make no sounds while eating. If you are eating noodles in a soup and your mouth is pumping out a vacuum cleaner like sucking noise you have become truly local. And of course while chewing there is no need to close your mouth – let others enjoy the view of the food being squashed between your teeth.
Never ever let anything collide with your eating plans: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner are the most important appointments on your entire day. If you have to skip one it is totally acceptable to be close to a panic attack. If it is two feel like Armageddon is coming fast.