Monday, 24 October 2011

Chinese Eating Habits

To help me make design decisions in terms of the shape and form on my packaging, contents included and how the layout of the contents inside should be, I have done some research into the traditional way of chinese dining. This will help to achieve an oriental experience at home for the customers purchasing the meal pack:

Round or Square Table?

  • Anthropological literature covering Chinese lifestyle facts offer conflicting evidence that this culture prefers a round or square table, though on occasion, a social scientist tries to make a case for one or the other based on the symbolism of earth and sky. In reality, round and square tables are simply more convenient than western-style rectangular ones for sensible reasons: if a family member or guest isn't within chopstick reach of the communal dishes situated in the center of the table, he could go hungry.

A Crowded Table

  • Discover the meaning of the crowded table when partaking of a traditional Chinese meal. Each place setting includes a rice bowl, soup spoon, small plate, condiment dish, teacup and chopsticks. Place settings vie for table space taken up by the large bowls that contain a variety of meat dishes cooked in the style of the region in which the meal is served (e.g., Cantonese, Sichuan). Noodles are traditionally served in the north while rice is a southern staple. These days, both may wind up on the table. Teapots are placed on the table only after the last diner is seated. Don't look for a water glass. You won't find one.

Color, Variety and Bounty

  • Since red is the color of joy and celebration, putting down a red cloth tablecloth makes a nice starting point for setting a traditional Chinese table. Glazed ceramic bowls featuring popular Chinese symbols like dragons, carp and flowers are heaped high. These family treasures are carefully hand-washed before being filled with stir-fried meats and vegetables. Unlike a western meal that consists of a main course and side dishes, etiquette mandates multiple main dishes, so it's essential to leave plenty of room in the center of the table for lots of bowls.

Read more: Traditional Chinese Table Setting |

Place Settings

  • Each diner's place setting should include a bowl of grain, called "fan" in Chinese, small saucer, flat-bottomed soup spoon and pair of chopsticks. Simple tea cups are provided in lieu of water glasses, though asking for one will not cause offense, and be sure to place the guest of honor facing the entryway door, opposite the meal's host. At the meal's conclusion, a hot towel is usually provided, instead of napkins, for the diner to clean his face and hands.

Meal Presentation

  • Traditional Chinese meals are typically served family style, with each dish being presented at once and diners eating directly from the communal plates with their long bamboo chopsticks. This includes eating from the same large soup bowl, hence the inclusion of the large, flat-bottomed soup spoon, from which diners usually slurp a small portion. The traditional use of the small saucer is for discarded bones and shells or as a place to rest bites too large to eat at once. The host will announce when diners may begin, and it is perfectly acceptable to reach across the table for a hard-to-reach morsel.

Dinner Decor

  • In traditional Chinese homes, the decor is meant to create a complex yet appealing balance of colors, patterns and textured objects set against dark, solid wood furniture. At the dinner table, the colors red, gold and green would represent happiness, health and family, and common decor items include ivory figures, porcelain vases, lacquered wood and potted bamboo. Lanterns are staple lighting fixtures in many Chinese homes, and they may hang from above or sit among the entrees to light a traditional meal.

The Table

  • To ease access to the table's center, where the meal is placed, Chinese dining tables are usually round or square, rather than rectangular. Traditional tables were typically built to accommodate eight to 10 diners, as it was not uncommon for several generations or extended families to be living under one roof throughout China over the centuries.

Read more: Traditional Chinese Table Dressings |

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