Chopstick food, chopstick dining

What would a one meal day be like in China?

Question by numbaonecub: What would a one meal day be like in China?
I would like to know what some things are that a Chinese person would eat for there 3 meals a day. Try to be specific if you can and it would be greatly appreciated.

Best answer:

Answer by SunShine44
¡Tendría que decir muy duro!!

Know better? Leave your own answer in the comments!

5 thoughts on “What would a one meal day be like in China?”

  1. Everyday Eating Customs in China
    Here in the West, because of the popularity of Chinese restaurants, we have some idea (to a greater or lesser degree authentic) of the sorts of food to be found in China, and many people have mastered (to a greater or lesser degree) the use of chopsticks. But the experience of eating at even the least Americanized Chinese restaurant scarcely resembles the experience of sharing an everyday family meal. Eating at a restaurant, both in the States and in China, has more in common with attending a banquet, which involves deliberate reversals and amplifications of everyday Chinese customs and habits.

    Family Meals

    Though customs and the kinds of food eaten vary according to region, it is most common for Chinese families to gather for three meals a day. In some areas and at some times of the year, laborers may have only two full meals a day, but when possible, they supplement these with up to three smaller ones, often taken at tea houses. There is not, in general, the strong association we have in the West between the type of food and the time of day it should be served (say, eggs for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, pot roast for dinner). The sorts of dishes served at the two or three main meals are pretty much the same. The goal in planning, however, is to provide a number of dishes at each meal, so that, rather than experiencing difference by comparison between one meal and the next, each meal includes, in itself, a satisfying array of elements.

    The Stuff of the Meal

    The center of the Chinese meal is fan, or grain. So much so, that the meal itself is called hsia fan, “a period of grain.” In the South and among urban families in other areas, the fan may be rice or rice products, but rice is expensive, as is the wheat eaten in the North in the form of cooked whole grains, noodles, or bread. Depending on the region, then, less prosperous families might make their meals of millet, sorghum, or corn. The meats and vegetables we think of as the focus of the meal are known as ts’ai, which means something like “side dishes” — one could almost go so far as to call them condiments for the fan.

    Place Settings and Serving Etiquette

    An individual place setting for an everyday meal includes a bowl of fan, a pair of chopsticks, a flat-bottomed soupspoon, and a saucer. Instead of a napkin, a hot towel is often provided at the end of the meal for the diner to wipe his hands and mouth. The meat and vegetable dishes are laid out all at once in the center of the table, and the diners eat directly from the communal plates using their chopsticks. Soup is also eaten from the common bowl. Rather than for serving oneself a separate portion, the saucer is used for bones and shells or as a place to rest a bite taken from a communal plate when it is too large to eat all at once. It is perfectly acceptable to reach across the table to take a morsel from a far-away dish. To facilitate access to all the dishes, Chinese dining tables are more likely to be square or round, rather than elongated like their western counterparts.

    Who Eats When and How

    Eating begins in order of seniority, with each diner taking the cue to start from his or her immediate superior. Children are taught to eat equally from each ts’ai dish in turn, never betraying a preference for a particular item by eating more of it, never seeming to pause to choose a specific bite from the plate. In order to cool the soup a bit and to better diffuse the flavor in the mouth, soup is eaten by sipping from the spoon while breathing in. This method, of course, produces the slurping noise that is taboo in the West. To eat fan, a diner raises the bowl to her lips and pushes the grains into her mouth with chopsticks. This is the easiest way to eat it and shows proper enjoyment — eating fan from a bowl left sitting on the table suggests dissatisfaction with the food. The diner must finish all the fan. To leave even a grain is considered bad manners, a lack of respect for the labor required to produce it.


    Breakfast is something we often ignore when talking about cuisine. Want to find out what Chinese people eat for breakfast? Let’s have a taste of Chinese breakfasts from the south to the north.

    Generally speaking, the typical Chinese breakfast varies from region to region. Let’s begin with the Cantonese-style breakfast — Yam Cha, or Dim Sum which are popular in Chinatowns around the world.

    Yam cha, literally, drink tea, is what Guangdong and HK people in particular do if they go out for breakfast in the early morning. But if a Cantonese friend invites you out to yam cha, allow plenty of time to enjoy it since it’s not to be rushed. Usually, it is a great way to spend a Saturday or Sunday morning.

    Dim sum are little snacks, usually steamed, deep fried, or boiled, and the variety is enormous, hundreds of them, mostly savoury. Like ha gao, A steamed wafer-thin rice-flour wrapping filled with baby shrimp or minced shrimp and some minced meat. The skin of rice-flour is so translucent that the ingredients can be clearly seen.

    Another thing worth mentioning is that leaves, no matter it’s Lotus leaves, banana leaves or maybe some other types, are used to wrap things in and steam or boiled for a very special flavour. A prime expression for it can be found in a kind of steamed fried rice with chicken wrapped in lotus leaf – fresh fragrance of lotus leaf.

    Besides, there are also other savoury ones. If you have a sweet tooth, then the water chestnut cake, being one of the most famous, coconut snowballs, and thousand-layer sweet cake with egg topping are your best choices.

    In addition to dim sum, there’s lots of different types of tea in China – black tea, green tea, oolong tea, chrysanthamum tea, pu’er tea etc etc, and the green tea with dim sum is a wonderful combination to help the digestion.

    However, Chinese-styled breakfast is much more than tea and dim sum. Noodles seem to be very common breakfast as well.

    In Yunnan Province, southwest of China, the spicy and delicious oodles are very common breakfast. But in Guizhou, big bowl of wheat noodles are often poured with a falf inch layer of hot pig fat.

    People in the North tend to eat more wheat – for instance, steamed stuffed buns, deep-fried twisted dough stick, and various other steamed or fried snacks made from wheat flour. Youtiao (ad lib) and baozi are just two famous breadfast snacks in this regard.

    Last but not the least, there is still a kind of typical Chinese food, which are always served at the breadfast table — Zongzi. Zongzi is pyramid-shaped and made of sticky rice wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves. Before it can ben eaten, it needs to boiled in water for ages and ages. Zongzi can be both savory and sweet. The sweet ones usually have sweet bean paste stuffing and savory ones usually have ham or pork with chestnut and sometimes Chinese mushrooms and egg yolk. Generally speaking, it is very popular in the lower Yangtze River Valley. In Jiaxing city of Zhejiang Province, there are loads of zongzi stalls selling hot zongzi every morning, something like hotdog stalls in the US, people often buy one for breakfast on their way to school every day.

    As for Chinese breakfast, almost everything is cooked, and also hot. Usually, milk is boiled for drinking in the morning and everything is reheated in the microwaves before they are served as breakfast.

    ’simple’ lunch included chicken, fish, eggs, tow foo, salted vegetables, pickled vegetables, foo chok, mushrooms, pork, long beans, spinach 2 types of fruits for dessert!

    It was a simple lunch for the Chinese who always had the fascinating obsession with food. Only the French could match the Chinese in terms of uniqueness in the cuisine but they lose out in the sheer amount consumed. The Saudis probably will pack their tables with more food but they will never match the variety that the Chinese has. This fascination for food is what makes the Chinese unique.

    You will be able to find 24 hours eateries in all Chinatowns and in all Chinese cities, the emphasis is nothing but food. The Chinese often greet themselves “Have you eaten?” instead of the customary “hello”. It is likely that food was hard to come by in ancient China and when you have the opportunity to consume, you feast. But in today’s modern times, food scarcity could hardly be an excuse. Maybe old habits die hard. The only real explanation for such gluttony is perhaps it is the real secret to happiness. ”Eat, Drink and Be Merry”.

    Sometimes, this simple pleasure that the Chinese enjoys put them in a very bad light in the eyes of other cultures especially where you have wealth disparity. A meal like the lunch I had, would looked like a month’s supply of food for the deprived and the famished. Others would think that the Chinese are such greedy people or show offs.

    It is difficult to break away from one of the oldest culture in the world but sometimes we would need to scale down on such excessive traits. I did not really enjoy the food but lunch was more of an opportunity to enhance the social ties.

    Well, it was a good lunch and I consoled myself that at least it is not game meat or meat of an endangered species.

  2. breakfast:

    -rice porridge, with various things added to it (preserved or fresh veggies, meats like pork, fish, seafood)
    -dumplings filled with various ground meats
    -steamed rice flour rolls


    -stir fried veggies with meat


    -stir fried veggies with meat
    -steamed or fried fish
    -stir fried seafood

  3. Rice truly is the “main dish” for all 3 meals, as most people cannot afford to eat-out (Dim Sum-ing or just eating out) so often. We only gather for Dim Sum on special occasions, such as holidays or when we have special guests in town.

    Regardless of provinces, we mostly eat rice porridge (called 粥 in Cantonese and 稀飯 in Mandarin) with or without “sides,” such as preserved black eggs, salty duck eggs, or 油條 (a type of deep-fried bread made out of flour, sugar and salt). There is a different style of porridge for almost every province, varying in the “type” of rice used and how thick or thin the consistency and the different “sides.” Some people drink milk, while others prefer soymilk (豆奶). The local “side stands” have more variety, as people pick up “to go” plain crepe rolls (粉腸), which is quite plain in taste, so there are different sauces to put on top of the rolls.

    We eat rice with stir fry “side dishes” (called 餸菜 in Chinese), mostly pork (cheaper than all other meats) with vegetables. There are also “noodle bowl” options (wonton noodle bowls for the south and dumpling noodle bowls for north).

    It’s more rice with stir fry side dishes. Since pork is the cheapest of all meat, it is the most popular form of meat dish. Then the “grade” (per one’s wallet capacity) goes up to chicken and fish and other seafood, for the more affluent families. The ideal “family meal” always include a healthy soup. As my grandmother used to always say, “A meal is never complete without a soup.” It’s just something the elders passed down from generation to generation. So we always cook some kind of soup that is taylored for maintaining our family members’ health, such as vegetable soups for cleansing our digestive systems, cleansing the lungs from inhaling so much pollution, cleansing the liver, clearing acne for teens or for treating colds and flu. There’s a soup for pretty much everything. We try to cook a different soup every day. The general rule includes meat (could be pork, chicken, or scrambled eggs, depending upon one’s budget), vegetables, more vegetables, and a big bowl of soup (2 small rice-bowls per person). Eat lots and lots of rice to fill your stomach instead of eating so much “sides.” If you have extra money, you can buy more meat and other “side dishes.”

    That’s pretty much all we can afford from the poor to middle class families. Upper class families habitually dine with abalone, sea cucumbers, crab, fish, and even the renowned “bird’s nest” soup for lunch and dinner (yet even they still eat rice porridge for breakfast, that’s just tradition).

    I haven’t been to an “open market” (街市 = “street markets,” which resembles a flea market, with side stands for meats and vegetables) since my family migrated to the U.S., but people over there shop in these “open markets” daily instead of the supermarkets. The produce, vegetables and everything are fresher AND cheaper than supermarkets. So stay-at-home mothers or housewives just take a “vegetable basket” (a reusable plastic sack called 菜籃) out to the market every morning and buy just enough groceries for last for all 3 meals for the day. Then the next morning, the menu changes and we go “shopping” again. Although it doesn’t have the best “smell” and the environment is super loud, at these “open markets,” you can literally shop “price comparisons” and even haggle the prices down to what you’re willing to pay. The thing I love—-and miss—-the most is the convenience of being able to buy everything “fresh” daily instead of storing so much food in the fridge, especially the vegetables.

  4. quite honestly, reading some of these 200 page posts just make me want to yawn.
    obviously these self claimed experts think they know every thing there should be about the food culture in China

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