Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Sharing food China vs "the west"

Meals are important to socialize.
During a meal, we share our food with others. The french word "copain" (friend) means the person with whom you share your bread. And meals tell us how a society works: how is the food distributed between people?, how much food is given to whom?, how is served first?...

In France or in "the west", the hostess rules!
The hostess (la maîtresse de maison) distributes food. It is probably a religious tradition? Jesus distributes the bread to apostles.
Note that the hostess serves the food, while the host serves the wine!
Customers must wait for the hostess to start eating before they start eating themselves.
Guests must wait for the hostess to start eating before they themselves start eating.
The hostess will serve first the oldest and then the women. She must always offer more and serve the guest.

In China, no official hostess!
In China there is no official hostess!
So everyone must take care of everyone else! The wife will serve her husband. The husband will serve his wife.
In fact there is always someone who invites and pays the bill. He is the host and should take care that everyone eats well. It means that he should always order more dishes so that everyone can have enough to eat.
Apparently there are no rules as to who eats more, or who gets the best dishes, the best part. Everyone helps himself to eat the different dishes. In fact even though there is no established rules as who should eat more or who should be served first, some will mind that others eat well. The host will eat little and take care of others.