Visiting a Chinese home

Chinese familyIf you ever have the opportunity to be invited into a Chinese family’s home for a meal... go! One of the main reasons people come to China is to learn about the Chinese culture and make more Chinese friends. Being invited to someones home will give you the opportunity to do just that. Nowhere else will you get to experience the true taste of an authentic home cooked meal, and observe how Chinese people interact with their friends and family in the comfort of their own home. It may be a little intimidating at first, but you'll soon settle in and get a delicious stomach satisfying experience. Here are a few things to help you prepare for visiting a Chinese home.



When it comes to eating, China is full of etiquette and traditions. For many Chinese families, life revolves around the dinner table, it’s a time that brings everyone together. It is always polite to bring a gift, like fruit, especially tangerines or oranges. Candies, wine or a treat from your home country would also be greatly appreciated.


The table will be spread with a variety of different dishes to be shared among everyone. You should wait for everyone to be seated before you begin eating. Don’t ‘dig’ or ‘search’ through the food, it represents death and is seen as digging a grave.

Chopstick Etiquette

Never point your chopsticks at anyone or leave them sticking straight up in a bowl of rice, as it resembles Chinese incense, which is used to honour the dead. If there is fish dish you shouldn’t flip it over, as this illustrates flipping over a boat, indicating death.

Serving Food

Feel free to serve food to other people, as they will most likely be serving you food. For instance, pouring them more tea or putting some food on their plate. Make sure when you are serving food to use the opposite end of your shopticks that you have been eating food from!

Bones and Sptting at the Table!

It is perfectly acceptable to spit bones on the table, belch or slurp your food, it shows the enjoyment of a good meal.

Licking the Plate Clean

Never completely finish all your food. If the host sees this, they will “lose face”, believing that they did not feed you enough and therefore feel a loss of respect and a sense of humiliation for leaving their guest hungry. Your host will no doubt keep offering you food, but if you feel like you will explode if you take another bite, it if perfectly fine to refuse.

Chinese people are known to be very welcoming, and soon enough you will feel like part of the family. Remember, the dinner table is a lively place, full of conversation and delicious dishes so enjoy the company and food! A great way to enjoy a Chinese home cooked meal is by staying with a host family during your time in China.

Have you ever had the honour to eat a Chinese home cooked meal? What was your experience like?            

Written by CSA student Cindy Tan



 In-Depth-China      CSA-blog



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