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Sydney Farmer

Food Culture

by Sydney Farmer Monday, June 19, 2017

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.

Peking Duck

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

Yellow watermelon

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.

Chinese hotpot