One of the most prevalent cultural differences I’ve noticed from being in China is the food culture. Food is serious business in China, and I have been fortunate enough to taste numerous delicacies from around the country. Not surprisingly, one of the first Chinese meals I ate in Beijing was Peking Duck. Beijingers are proud of this local dish and it is often wrapped in China’s version of a soft-shell tortilla, stuffed with cucumber and onion slices, accompanied by a side of hoisin sauce.
What you see below is a very typical Beijing breakfast. Youtiao (a fried oil stick), millet porridge, and a glass of soymilk. I am no stranger to this meal: about twice a week I venture to a fast food restaurant called Mr. Li to enjoy this hearty breakfast.
Chinese meals are generally eaten family-style, with a plethora of dishes placed on the table for everyone to take “as they please.” At times, this means an eager person will pile enough food on your plate to feed a small army. For this reason, the first Chinese sentence I learned how to say was “I’m full.”
Family style dinner during Spring Festival
Dessert is relatively uncommon in China, but there are bountiful amounts of sweet fruit and nuts. I learned that almonds have shells, and watermelons can be yellow. I was also introduced to more melons than I can count, two of the varieties being “sweet melon” and “fragrant melon”.
Almonds with shells
Beijing is a city obsessed with food, and trying all the delicious meals has been a great way to experience the culture of the city. Although I am looking forward to eating cheese curds again, I will definitely miss the wonderful tastes that Beijing has to offer.