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Chinese culture

Chinese culture: the Round dining table

We have decided that if we ever buy a new dining table, it has got to be a round one. Then, we will also buy a smaller round table top with wheels, so when we have friends over, the smaller one can be placed on top of the big one, and we can just wheel it around. Like that, everyone can pick up the food in front them easily, instead of having to cause unnecessary ‘traffic’ because of passing on dishes from one extreme of the table to the other — you know, like those round tables in Chinese restaurants. :))

Another reason is that, then, everyone could conveniently talk to whoever they want at the table: you wouldn’t need to stretch your neck (or even half of your body) trying to join other people’s  conversation. :))

However, this kind of arrangement is probably only good for serving Chinese meals, coz as Chinese traditional custom, everyone will share the plates on the table, which is very different to Western custom where everyone has their own plates.

Sharing the food on the table and chatting over the meals has always been cultural tradition in China. If I can remember, in the past, sometimes the table was not necessarily round – it could be a square, but never a rectangle — it had to be easy for people to reach the dishes and chat crossing the table. Back then, the square dinning table was called ‘Ba Xian zuo’ (as the table of eight fairies). I remember my grandma used to have one, but when we had the whole family gather together for important occasions, my uncles would set up a big round table, everyone – aunties, uncles and cousins, would all sit together around the table. It was very crowded, so we had to be careful not disturb each other, and my most beloved grandma would sit around to watch over her offsprings with a happy and proud smile — what can be more satisfaction for grandma than seeing the united family all around the table……  — the table was just very convenient.

I am talking about Chinese dining culture here, but probably it is well known already. Anyway, I want to explain why I like cooking — yes, yes, because I love food, but also, because I have been heavily influenced by the Chinese food culture. Three meals a day — each one is important and serves its own purpose. For example, for breakfast, we all sit at the table and have proper warm food –  to use my dad’s word ‘ breakfast is important for starting the day, for getting enough energy for the brain to function well during the whole morning’; lunch, either at school or at work, no matter we have own lunch boxes or eat in the restaurants, it is always a good chance to catch up with friends or colleagues; dinner — important meal of the day, not only for having a nice meal to finish the day off before going to bed, but also, most importantly, it is the chance for all the family members to gather together to exchange news or just chat… ‘daily life’. :))

Since living in England, I have been corrupted by Western culture by saying ‘let’s go for coffee’ :) when we meet friends, instead of going for a meal. But back in China, when I meet up with friends, (although ‘coffee culture’ and ‘bar culture’ has reached in China),  we just go for a meal and chat for hours in front of a table full of food. Oh, also, even businesses can be made over the dining table, instead of in the office — so don’t be surprised if you ever go to China, and this happens. :))

Now, you know why I want to get that round dining table… :))


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