Dragon Boat Festival History & The Story of Qu Yuan

The Dragon Boat Festival (a.k.a DuanWu Festival 端午节) is a significant happening in Chinese culture. Every year in June. In fact, people get 3 days off to celebrate this holiday with friends and family.

The Story of Qu Yuan

To understand the cultural significant, it’s important to understand the history and origin of this holiday. For this, watch the below video about the story of Qu Yuan

Also listen to this podcast for a deeper discussion on the History.

Dragon Boat Races

To get an idea of the festival today, watch this National Geographic video:

Here’s another video of a Dragon Boat race in Hong Kong:

The Tradition of Exchanging Zongzi

As you could see in the video above, eating Zongzi has become a traditional custom during the holiday. In this video, you can see one of China’s superstar vlogger making Zongzi the traditional way:

One of the main reasons why the Dragon Boat Festival is so popular is because the exchange of Zongzi is so much fun. People will make Zongzi at home, and bring some to friends and family when they visit them during the Holiday.

If you’re interested to make some zongzi yourself, this recipe by Angel Wong is highly recommend:

We hope you enjoyed this post. Any questions about this traditional Chinese custom? Never hesitate to leave a comment below!

Tteokbokki: A Korean After School Staple

Leaving home after a long day at work. Though it is late at night, there are still many businesses open and people out and about. You see some plumes of steam rise from a stall nearby. Approaching you are greeted with a rejuvenating and savory wall of vapor from the many different boiled, broiled and steamed dishes available. But it is a deep vat of deep reddish-orange that catches your eye. There’s Tteokbokki! A Korean spicy rice cake dish.

Tteokbokki Taste

You order a small batch of this dish. You are handed a tooth pick with which to eat each of the thick, plump morsels awash in the red, steaming sauce. The smell is both sweet and spicy, and the soft, sometimes wiggly cylindrical morsel you just tried is a rice cake. You are first taken by the softness of the rice cake, biting into it, it’s almost like a marshmallow it is so soft and chewy! Then, you are quickly greeted by the sweet and incredibly spicy sauce! Some layers of fish cake also can be found and you soon find your cup completely empty. You have even taken a big gulp of the sauce! 

Tteokbokki Loved by Students

Experiences like these are very common in Korea from students leaving school and en route to the many different academies and after-school activities they take part in as well as adults, either out late drinking and feeling in the mood for a sweet yet bitingly spicy treat or en route to home from a busy day at work. This is the wonderful ways people enjoy tteokbokki (떡볶이). Also Anglicized as “Tteok-bokki” or “ddukbokki”, this dish is a real treat and has a ton of different variations and served at a few different types of venues. But be aware! No matter what your tteokbokki preferences are, the sauce will be both hot temperature wise as well as in the spice department!

Tteokbokki History

One may be a bit surprised to learn that tteokbokki, a humble food sold at street stalls and a mainstay for hungry children after school, was actually a dish prepared for the royal court. Though this version involved many other ingredients like sirloin and high quality soy sauce. Over time, the other ingredients like beef and pine nuts would vanish from the basic preparation of tteokbokki but soy sauce and tteok (rice cake, in this case cylindrical cuts of it).

The first modern version of tteokbokki is believed to have been invented from a lucky accident. Ma Bok Lim, after having accidentally dropped tteok in a vat of hot sauce found that the combination was actually rather tasty. And so she decided to sell the first modern and commercial ttoekbokki in Seoul’s Sindang, which is still a place to grab choice tteokbokki to this day. The dish was popular because it was cheap, quick and easy to make. This was all during the 1950’s in the wake of the Korean War and the painful post-war eras for Korea, when the economic situation for the country at large was in a desperate place. Remarkably, after the economic recovery and subsequent higher level of affluence many Koreans enjoy today has not stopped this dish from maintaining its popularity.

Today it can mainly be found at bunsik restaurants, which serve other snack type dishes like kimbap and at pojangmacha, which are street stalls, some of which operate out of the back of trucks. 

Tteokbokki Recipe: Some like it hot…

The basic recipe for tteokbokki includes the white, cylindrical rice cakes stir fried with gochujang, which is a thick, spicy red pepper paste sauce. Some other ingredients one may find in their tteokbokki may include eomuk, with are thin layers of fish cake, hard boiled eggs and scallions. The resulting dish has an aroma that is sweet and savory and a flavor that is salty, sweet, spicy and savory, too. The texture of the dish is chewy and at times thick, depending on how thick the tteok is! Other styles include…

  • Ra-bokki: This variation on tteokbokki includes throwing ramyeon (hence the “ra” part) noodles into the broth. This gives the dish some additional noodles, and sometimes a slice of cheese is even added on top and allowed to melt along with the natural heat of the dish.
  • Jeukseok-tteok-bokki: This “hot pot” style of tteokbokki is a more substantial meal and may see certain veggies, Korean dumplings and ramyeon noodles added in, too.
  • Cheese tteok-bokki: This type can be one of two things, either tteokbokki with cheese added into the dish itself, or tteokbokki made with tteok that has cheese inside of it!
  • Gireum tteok-bokki: This is tteokbokki stir fried in “gireum” which is cooking oil. Famously found at Seoul’s Tongin Market. Because this variation is stir fried and uses a little bit less sauce, the resulting dish is “drier” in comparison, but certainly still delectable!

Tteokbokki anytime!

If you ever find yourself in Korea, whether it is mid afternoon or 3 in the morning, keep your eyes peeled for this stunning dish. From the royal court, to a snack on the go, tteokbokki is there whenever and wherever you may be hungry! Just remember, that sauce is tasty, but very spicy, so be prepared, too!

Sources

  • hui, Jing, et al. “Tteokbokki (Spicy Rice Cakes).” My Korean Kitchen, 23 May 2019, mykoreankitchen.com/tteokbokki-spicy-rice-cakes/.
  • “Tteok-Bokki.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 30 Nov. 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tteok-bokki.

Avoid Eating Everything off the Plate in China

It’s obvious that you don’t want to waste food. When eating with your own family or best friends, it’s of course ok to finish all the food. However, in a more formal setting you’ve got to leave some on the plates. Here’s why:

When having a meal, try to avoid eating everything off the plates in the middle of the table. By leaving some food it shows you are full. If you finish all the food it is considered impolite and means you are still hungry! The host will feel embarrassed and order more food (even if everyone is actually full).

Finishing the food on your plate is however fine, as long as you don’t clean the plate where the dishes are being serve on. Leave a bit on the plate to show some modesty.

Also on a day like Chinese New Year leaving a bit behind means you have an extra spiritual food reserve through out the year.

Magkeolli, Korean Rice Wine: Ancient and Humble

My wife opened the door to our apartment. Her umbrella pouring off straggling raindrops. She had just come home from work after a long, rainy and cool day. I had wrapped up another writing project myself and we were both looking forward to two things on this rainy evening. Pajeon (파전/Korean “pancake/pizza”) and makgeolli (막걸리/Korean rice wine). Two staples of rainy day dining in Korea. But it’s the slightly fizzy, tangy, sweet, chalky, milky and altogether satisfying and nourishing makgeolli that I look forward to the most.

An ancient yet humble beginning

While soju is largely seen as Korea’s trademark alcohol, it is actually soju’s humble and modest older cousin, makgeolli that is the oldest recorded booze in Korean history. Rice wine, especially of the murky and cloudy variety, have been mentioned since Korea’s Three Kingdoms Period (삼국시대/samguk-sidae) which began in 57 B.C. The brewing and enjoyment of rice wine is attested to in the Jewang Un’gi (제왕운기/ Songs of Emperors and Kings). “Cloudy rice wine” is mentioned in the Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms (삼국유사/samguk yusa). And Korean sources aren’t the only ones detailing the ancient Korean’s mastery of milky-cloudy rice wine.

The Chinese Records of the Three Kingdoms (三國志/삼국지/San Guo Chih) remarks the Korean people’s adeptness as fermenting foods, including wine. And in the Japanese Kojiki (古事記/ Records of Ancient Matters) a brew master from the Korean kingdom of Baekje (백제) is mentioned as being associated with rice wine preparation.

Makgeolli eventually took on the name ihwa-ju (이화주) meaning “peach blossom alcohol” because makgeolli was brewed when the pear blossom trees bloomed. Ihwa-ju isn’t the only alternative name for makgeolli, there is also takju (탁주/opaque wine) and nongju (농주/farmer’s wine).

It’s this last title, “farmer’s wine” that became most strongly associated with makgeolli for most of its history. Makgeolli had been brewed at home and either enjoyed after a long day or used for various Confucian rites and rituals. Because each household and village would brew their own batch of makgeolli, each region has a diverse and unique variation, taste and terroir to their rice wine.

After the Korean War and the rebuilding period, makgeolli went from the most consumed drink to being over shadowed by foreign liquor. Food shortages and rice rationing decreed by government law further stifled the brewing of makgeolli with its traditional ingredients. Lower quality makgeolli was mass produced instead, using wheat and barley. This also turned people off from this once time honored booze, and increasingly built an aura around the beverage being an old fashioned, cheap and un-classy drink. A highly unfair and untrue designation if I may be frank!

But luckily, makgeolli has been seeing a big comeback, both domestically and abroad. Makgeolli is enjoyed not just due to its unique flavor and lower alcohol content compared to soju, but also its ability to be easily paired with lots of bar food, and of course, it’s cheap cost!

Nuruk for fermented fun!

The special magical ingredient in makgeolli is a fermentation brick called nuruk (누룩). The brick is usually made from rice, barley, wheat, or mung beans. It is moistened, rolled into a large, round brick and hung up to ferment. This goody is then thrown in a big clay onggi (옹기), the same type of jar used to ferment kimchi. The nuruk is joinedin the onggi by steamed rice and then possibly some other herbs, spices, fruits or nuts to ferment for about a week or so. Fresh makgeolli is said to have a milder and creamier taste and consistency.

A cloudy drink for a rainy day

With all the science aside now is the part you’ve been waiting for! How does it taste, how do you drink it and what does it go good with? There are a few different ways to enjoy this ancient and legendary alcohol.

The nobility of a plastic bottle     

The first, is to get it at any convenient store or supermarket. Here you will typically find it in plastic bottles. Now here’s the special part. Because makgeolli’s contents separate, with a yellowish clearer liquid rising to the top and the thicker, rice sediments drifting to the bottom, it is important to shake your makgeolli the hell up! You read that correctly. Shake or jiggle the bottle around until you can see the contents of the bottle take on a more solid and consistent color. Now, be careful opening the bottle as it can explode (another fun trait of makgeolli. Great at parties!). My technique is to use quick twists of the cap, opening and closing it in swift intervals. Be sure to watch the contents inside if they are rushing to the top or not. If you see bubbles and wine rushing to the opening, seal the cap shut and wait a few seconds before giving the cap another quick open and then shut twists. Do this until the cap is off. And hopefully your wine hasn’t exploded! This took me a few years to master myself.

Canned rice wine

Makgeolli can also be found in cans. This incarnation is interesting because it also usually comes in unique flavors. The sweet potato flavor is absurdly good, it is almost like a dessert! The cans are usually sold upside down, and when you turn them right side up to open them, the contents are already pre-shook. So no (possible) explosions!

Wine from a kettle

One of the more traditional ways to enjoy makgeolli is out of a copper kettle. The kettle resembles a tea kettle and is served individually in matching copper bowls. The wide bowls help keep the liquid from separating from the thicker rice sediment.

A clay bowl for rice wine

            The other traditional way is makgeolli served in a massive clay or earthenware bowl. A ladle is used to serve the contents into smaller individual clay or earthenware bowls. This way is particularly fun because it is such a unique way to drink alcohol.

What should I eat with it?

Whichever of these splendid ways you choose, makgeolli is best served chilled. As for food to go with it, pajeon, kimchi-jeon (김치전) or haemul-jeon (해물전/seafood “pancake/pizza”) are the most common choices, consumed together on rainy days. The reason being that the sound of the pajeon frying resembles the sound of the rain on the rooftops.

Innovation on the ancient

Makgeolli is also a popular base for cocktails and more modern variations that include ice or fruits. A makgeolli place in our home city of Ulsan (울산), for example, has a menu that includes magkeolli mixed with milk, yogurt and ice and blended into a smoothie. Some of the flavors they offer include banana, green tea and even Oreo flavored! In regards to natural flavoring, as each region had its own distinct makgeolli recipe and flavors, as one travels throughout Korea, different cities will have some unique styles. For example, while hiking some mountains near Gwangju (광주) in South Jeolla Province (절라남도) we encountered a blazing golden colored bottle of turmeric infused makgeolli. And yes, it did taste like curry. And it was superb!

That night as we fried up the pajeon, and opened a tangy bottle of Taehwa (태화) brand, Ulsan’s native makgeolli. The gloomy weather went from a real drag to a real source of revelry. Any reason to be able to sit inside, all warm and cozy, with family and loved ones. Enjoying a delectable, unique and amiable drink with delicious food. What else could anyone ask for?

Korean Dining Customs: More Than Just Good Chopstick Skills

My parents had finally come to visit my Korean fiancée and I for a week for our wedding. After a day of walking through Ulsan’s Daewangam Grand park (대왕암공원) and taking in the lovely sights off the sea and pine trees we walked down towards Ilsan beach to enjoy dinner.

We decided on a marinated pork barbecue restaurant and after entering and promptly ordering the meat and drinks, the servers then began setting up the table with dish after dish of different assorted pickled and fermented as well as fresh fruits and veggies. “Who ordered this?” asked my mom, “are these appetizers?”, “Yeah, in a way” I replied.

My parents had never been to a Korean restaurant, even in the United States, and this was a truly unique experience for them. It also begins to tell the story of Korean dining customs and etiquette. It doesn’t matter if you are in Hongdae in Seoul or Nutley, New Jersey, here are a few things one can expect ( and what may be expected of them) when it comes to Korean dining!

What are banchan?

To start, my parents were surprised by the servers bringing us all these little dishes of veggies and other goodies. They thought these were appetizers, like ones that must be ordered (and are billed) separately from the standard entrée one orders. They were actually banchan (반찬). Banchan deserves its own article, but to keep it simple for now, these are the extra side dishes that include sauces, sometimes dried fish, sometimes soy bean paste, lots of veggies (and fruits like peppers) both fresh and fermented, and usually, the king of banchan, kimchi.

Banchan has a long tradition believed to go back to Korea’s Three Kingdom’s period. They are eaten with just about every meal. As to their role as appetizers, yes. They are. But they are also relish, sauces, accoutrements and digestion aids, as much as they are appetizers, too. As to ordering them separately, there is no need to! The server or your host, if you are dining at a Korean person’s house, will provide these to accompany the meal, free of charge! Even for refills, in Korea there is no charge to refill banchan, though, you may have to ask your server for a refill or get it yourself, depending on the restaurant.

Some banchan include soups and stews, both hot and cold. These are usually enjoyed during the meal in lieu of water. While eating, other beverages are enjoyed, but drinking water with a meal is conveying to the chef that the food is not tasty. Water is usually consumed after a meal.

No need to pass plates!

The next fun thing my parents did (this is not at their expense, but just really great anecdotes to illustrate how different American and Korean dining customs are!) was begin to pass the banchan around. I had to explain to my fiancée and again to my mother-in-law at another barbecue restaurant (that seems to be a theme, here) that in many American households, the different plates of side dishes are passed around, during the Thanksgiving meal. Luckily, my mother-in-law found this very charming and decided to play along, passing kimchi and the greens around as well! Typically, the long, steel chopsticks of Korean dining are used instead to just reach for the banchan or dish you want.

Grill power

korean barbecue meat customs traditions

Now for the next anecdote about my parents at barbecue, in the same restaurant nonetheless! As the server handed me the pair of steel tongs and large scissors to cook the cuts of beef that I promptly threw on the grill, I felt my mother-in-law’s eyes fixate on me. Watching for any slight mistake. Naturally, I choked, the meat began to char and burn. And, she commandeered the cooking utensils from me and began grilling the meat herself. And doing a much better job, honestly. My mother, sitting next to me whispered, “Why are you making Mrs. Park cook?! You should be doing that!” and I didn’t argue because, well, she was right. For Korean barbecue, the proper etiquette is for the youngest male to grill and cut the meat up. As Korean barbecue often entails drinking lots of beer (맥주) and Korean rice wine, soju (소주) this leads to the next part of Korean table manners, drinking.

Pour me a drink, junior!

Just like other social interactions, there are rules for drinking too, and because Koreans usually enjoy drinks with some food (안주/bar snacks, drinking food), it has a place being discussed in this article. Korea’s culture is deeply intertwined with Confucian social values and roles. Thus, age and station hierarchy are strictly observed. Korean drinking culture is another topic that deserves its own article, but to keep this one brief as well, the younger or lower ranked people at the table should keep the older, or their superior’s glass or cup full. They should pour with both hands and should turn away when drinking. They should also drink when their elder/superior drinks, too! Observing and being receptive to the actions of elders and superiors at the table is a nice segue to the next custom!

One famous alcoholic beverage is Soju (which is a distilled beverage made from potatoes).

soju korean food traditions

Wait to begin eating

When eating in Korea, it is customary to wait to even touch any silverware until the eldest person or highest ranked person begins eating. Luckily for my dad, he happened to be the oldest person at the table, and so he had the honors to set the pace of our family dinners both times our families met. A privilege I am certain he relished!

Tableware par excellence

Now to address the title of this article, that Korean table manners are more than just good chopstick skills. So, to wrap up this introduction to Korean dining culture, it will be with an overview of the silverware. And I do mean silver, or rather steel ware. Korean tableware differs from other Asian countries because instead of wood or bamboo chopsticks, Koreans use steel chopsticks. These chopsticks are flatter and often times engraved with symbols of longevity and luck like cranes and ginseng roots. Alongside the chopsticks the tableware will include a large, wide, steel spoon. The origin of the steel chopsticks is said to have 2 major theories. The first is that this practice was started by the aristocracy during Korea’s tumultuous Three Kingdom’s period. The king and nobility feared poisoning and thus used silver chopsticks. The silver was believed to change color if exposed to certain poisonous chemicals. The common people, in hopes of emulating the royalty, made their own shiny steel chopsticks, too. There is also the theory that because Koreans eat their rice with a spoon (another table manner, rice is eaten with a spoon, not chopsticks, unless the rice is being scooped with chopsticks to be added to other dishes!) the need for wooden chopsticks, which are easier to grip rice were not needed. The steel chopsticks are a point of pride for Koreans and perceived as more hygienic and sustainable, as they can be washed and reused multiple times.

Here are just a few, but all important, dining customs and traditions from Korea! As for my parents, their first experience of Korean food was a hit! By the end of their trip, my dad was ordering soju at every restaurant we went, and my mom’s chopstick skills went from asking for a fork, to being able to scoop kimchi with ease using the steel chopsticks, a quick improvement for sure! For Koreans, just like all cultures, food is a very integral part of life. Food isn’t just something to stay full, but it is the basis of existence. In fact, a common greeting similar to “what’s up” or “how are you?” is “have you eaten yet?” or a variation thereof. This isn’t a literal question, it’s one meant to inquire about another person’s very core being, are you okay? How are you doing? Have you had some good food? This is the true meaning of such a phrase. I hope this article was informative and encouraged some curious readers to go out and try some Korean food firsthand!

Sources:

Budae Jjigae; Korean Army Camp Stew

The tenacity and persevering nature of the Korean people have been a hallmark of culture on the peninsula for centuries. One may be surprised to learn that a relatively seemingly modern dish is a testament of this will to endure and to adapt to circumstances, no matter how tough they may be.

The History

During the Korean War, food was incredibly scarce. After the war came to an armistice agreement in 1953, the civilians residing in what was then to be called “South Korea”, were forced to look for food wherever they could, as much of the population was starving or at risk of starving constantly. In the Uijeongbu (의정부) area, local people began to gather around the American army base present there. It was the surplus food from this base, with the processed meats like hot dogs, ham, and SPAM, as well as the canned baked beans, issued as rations to the soldiers, that local people began using to supplement their diets. Sometimes frying them along with other veggies and enjoyed with drinks like makgeolli (막걸리/thick rice wine). Over time anchovy sauce, gochujang (고추장/thick red spicy pepper sauce) and kimchi (김치/spicy fermented cabbage) were added to the dish. This is when the meal began to take on its more recognizable appearance. It also completed the name! Budae (부대) means “army base”, named for the American army base where a bulk of the ingredients came from, and Jjigae (찌개) which means “stew”. Supposedly the name was even called, “Jonseun-tang/존슨탕” named after President Lyndon B. Johnson who is reported to have tried the stew and loved it during an official visit to Korea. There was even a black market for a time, selling some of the army surplus ingredients, as they were outlawed for civilian consumption during this period. Luckily today, budaejjigae is more than legal! There is even a budaejjigae street in Uijeongbu that specializes in the army stew.

Ingredients

Korean Army Stew

For those interested in making some at home, or just generally curious about what makes this stew so special, here are the following ingredients. Korean food culture is very dynamic, deeply tied to tradition but very willing to adapt and try new things. Hence why this list is just the most classic type of budaejjigae. But I have been to restaurants that serve it with squid, shrimp, with different types of noodles and sometimes with mozzarella cheese thrown in!

Budaejjigae will almost always include most of the following; kimchi, hot dogs, SPAM, tofu, onion, mushrooms, spicy pepper, scallions, anchovy broth, gochujang, red pepper flakes, soy sauce, garlic and instant ramen. You read that correctly! Instant ramen, hot dogs and SPAM. All together in one place and they are delicious! Other ingredients can be swapped in or out to fit an individuals taste or creativity.

Preparation

As for cooking, well I am not a chef! My wife makes sure to remind me that almost every time I cook, so checking out recipes online at sites like maangchi.com and other great sources for Korean food are much wiser. The basic run down is, to chop and dice all the ingredients. Add them all together in a pot and pour in the broth for the stew. Let the stew boil until the pork and some of the other ingredients like the onions are a bit soft. Then add the ramen and stir it in. Some budaejjigae has slices of American cheese placed on the broth when the ramen and other ingredients are finished boiling, or even boiled together with the other ingredients.

Taste!

As for the taste, “amazing” isn’t very objective, and so to try and give an unbiased review, it can be described as certainly a bit spicy, salty, savory and the broth can also occasionally be sweet. This dish is often enjoyed by students, especially college students and young adults (or anyone, its delicious!) who are hanging out and drinking together. It goes great with soju (소주) which is hard Korean rice liquor. Budaejjigae is also a group meal, so finding solo dishes of it are uncommon as far as I know. However, there are instant cup ramen and packaged ramen that are flavored like budaejjigae.

Deceptively simple at first glance, budaejjigae is a testament to Koreans and their tenacity and strong will to survive and persevere. Budaejjigae represents a staunch and noble pursuit of a better life and yearning for happiness, despite the pain and impoverishment caused by a cataclysmic war. For budaejjigae, the army stew, we salute you!

Chinese Cuisines and Dining Etiquettes

In Chinese culture, food has more than just a vital function. It has a significant social role. Their meals are times for family get together, friends reunion and business meetings. They prefer to consume food in a form of group of people rather than alone. For instance, occasions like Spring Festival, Chinese folks eat dumplings to express the relationship between themselves and God. Thus, food is an important part of life in Chinese culture.

Chinese take great pride in their dining etiquettes

Chinese people are very proud of their food and they have every right to be. Chinese food is probably the most diverse in the world. And, certainly it doesn’t restrict itself to the five or six dishes you usually found in Chinese restaurants in western countries. Chinese cuisine uses a wide variety of ingredients, and there are totally 48 ways of cooking them. Such as stir fry, deep fry, steaming, roasting, boiling and so on.

Chinese breakfast vary greatly between different regions. In northern China, breakfast fare typically includes Chinese hot pocket, tofu soap, Spicy Peppery soup and soy milk paired with fried Chinese dough. In southern China, represented by Guangdong province, breakfast includes rice porridge prepared to thicker consistency than those sold in Shanghai, and side dishes are not served. Some of them also like to have congee in their breakfast. Other breakfast options include pan frying noodles with bean sprouts, spring onions and soy sauce. Their Cantonese breakfast also includes turnip cakes and rice cakes wrapped in bamboo leaves. The dim sum breakfast is a world in itself and it’s often eaten as brunch in specialist restaurants. Chinese folks enjoy their morning tea and dim sum breakfast together with lots of people, where they talk about business and exchange information.

It is Chinese tradition to serve rare and expensive foods to their guests. By doing so, they express their social status and show respect to their guests. It is also used to represent high economic status and a way to show, how much wealth they have. Bird’s nest, shark’s fin, and lobster are few examples of their custom. These rare foods are from animal sources and high in protein.

Majority of Chinese people prefer to have 3 meals a day. Their formal dinner includes 8 to 10 hot dishes, 4 to 6 cold dishes, served with fruits and soup. All dishes are put in the middle and shared between all members of family. Members need to wait until whole family gets seated. Usually a rotating platter, in English it is named as lazy Susan, is used to facilitate the distribution. Their traditions vary in different places. In some places, Chinese have a tradition to serve others first. They first serve elders and the younger members, followed by men and ladies. In other places, women eat after men. But mostly, the group dining is the preferred eating system in Chinese society. Yet, group dining culture also brings the possibility to spread infectious diseases. Thus, one should consider the benefits of separate dining. Regardless, due to dispute against standard dining culture, separate eating is not encouraged in China.

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Javanese Dining Etiquette: The Do’s and Don’ts

Javanese culture has a big impact in Indonesia, since the number of Javanese tribe is on the top. Some of the Javanese culture, like kebaya and batik for example, has become the icon of Indonesia. Javanese culture originally came from Java Island, indeed, but only the people from Central and East Java are called Javanese, while the ones who came from West Java are called Sundanese.

There are so many rules that became a living guide for the Javanese. Here are some examples of the dining etiquette that still applied until now regarding to Javanese people:

1. Chewing sound is a big NO

Silence is golden, especially when you are eating with Javanese. Make a sound when you are chewing considered as impolite. Javanese always keep their mouth close when chewing, and if they have something to talk about, they will do it after there is no food inside their mouth.

Not only chewing sound that prohibited when you are eating with Javanese, but also some noises from your cutlery. Javanese will make the sound as low as possible, barely heard.

2. Sit and eat

Javanese are not used to stand while eating, except on the situation when they come to someone’s wedding party that has no chairs for all guest. For Javanese, it is better to sit while eating because regarding to them, it is a good manner. Still, there are some places that prohibited, like in front (or the middle) of a door. Javanese believe that when someone eats in the front of a door, he/she could not find his/her lover easily.

3. No phone call while having a meal

Answer a phone call when you are eating with Javanese is considered as rude. It is better to keep the phone in silent mode until the dinner finish. Not only phone call, leave the dining table for another business is not recommended. Javanese will always finish their meal first, put the cutlery in the sink, then continue with their business. Doing something else while eating is also prohibited.

4. Offer another people to try the dishes

Javanese people are well-known as polite. Their politeness standard is quite high, even about a single thing like greet another person. It is not only in public places, but also at the dining table too. When a Javanese host invited another people to have a dinner together, the host (and his family) will offer the guests to try the dishes. For Javanese, offer a dish to another people

shows their warmth and kindness. As the one who got offered by the Javanese, it is better to take the dish even in a small portion to appreciate the kindness of the Javanese.

Last, it will be much better if you take your cutlery to the sink by yourself after you finish your meal. Regarding to Javanese, people who do that are considered as well-mannered.

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Cuisines and Dining Etiquette in Chinese Society

In Chinese culture, food has more than just a vital function. It has a significant social role. Their meals are times for family get together, friends reunion and business meetings. They prefer to consume food in a form of group of people rather than alone. For instance, occasions like Spring Festival, Chinese folks eat dumplings to express the relationship between themselves and God. Thus, food is an important part of life in Chinese culture.

Why Chinese are proud of their food

Chinese people are very proud of their food and they have every right to be. Chinese food is probably the most diverse in the world. And, certainly it doesn’t restrict itself to the five or six dishes you usually found in Chinese restaurants in western countries. Chinese cuisine uses a wide variety of ingredients, and there are totally 48 ways of cooking them. Such as stir fry, deep fry, steaming, roasting, boiling and so on.

Chinese breakfast vary greatly between different regions. In northern China, breakfast fare typically includes Chinese hot pocket, tofu soap, Spicy Peppery soup and soy milk paired with fried Chinese dough. In southern China, represented by Guangdong province, breakfast includes rice porridge prepared to thicker consistency than those sold in Shanghai, and side dishes are not served. Some of them also like to have congee in their breakfast. Other breakfast options include pan frying noodles with bean sprouts, spring onions and soy sauce. Their Cantonese breakfast also includes turnip cakes and rice cakes wrapped in bamboo leaves. The dim sum breakfast is a world in itself and it’s often eaten as brunch in specialist restaurants. Chinese folks enjoy their morning tea and dim sum breakfast together with lots of people, where they talk about business and exchange information.

It is Chinese tradition to serve rare and expensive foods to their guests. By doing so, they express their social status and show respect to their guests. It is also used to represent high economic status and a way to show, how much wealth they have. Bird’s nest, shark’s fin, and lobster are few examples of their custom. These rare foods are from animal sources and high in protein.

The amount of meals a day Chinese have

Majority of Chinese people prefer to have 3 meals a day. Their formal dinner includes 8 to 10 hot dishes, 4 to 6 cold dishes, served with fruits and soup. All dishes are put in the middle and shared between all members of family. Members need to wait until whole family gets seated. Usually a rotating platter, in English it is named as lazy Susan, is used to facilitate the distribution. Their traditions vary in different places. In some places, Chinese have a tradition to serve others first. They first serve elders and the younger members, followed by men and ladies. In other places, women eat after men. But mostly, the group dining is the preferred eating system in Chinese society. Yet, group dining culture also brings the possibility to spread infectious diseases. Thus, one should consider the benefits of separate dining. Regardless, due to dispute against standard dining culture, separate eating is not encouraged in China.

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“Kamayan” Eating with bare hands

There is one trait that Filipinos happy to do and that is by eating without spoon and fork or natively term as “Kamayan” (eating using bare hands). This custom usually relates more to the poor because it mirrors poverty but can be practiced by whatever social status one has.

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Taste food before leaving

Taste any food that the host has offered even though only for a small amount. if you are visiting your friends or family and you are about to go back home but suddenly the host offers you a food or a dish, you have to taste it even though only for a small amount. If you don’t do that, they believe that you might get accident on the road.

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