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Chinese Custom--004: Chinese Eating Habits & Some Fruit Dishes
Because China is very big, there are different eating habits in different areas. I'm providing a general explanation of the basic eating ritual.

Chinese have three meals (that is breakfast, lunch and dinner) every day. For most people who are working, we have our breakfast very simple, then we have our lunch in the company, noshery or order some snack via telephone. Most of people have dinner at home.

The general eating process in most of Chinese restaurant is:

1. Tea
2. Dishes (food choices) + beer, wine or another drink (if you want it)
3. Main food
4. Fruit
5. Dessert (it is main in the southern area)
6. Tea

That means when you enter a Chinese restaurant, waiters ask you which tea would you like to drink. At first, you could order some tea you like to drink. However, if the restaurant is run by Sichuan people, there is already some "Babao tea" on the table and you need not order again and the waiter will serve you directly.

When you are drinking the tea you could order the dishes, then, the main food. During this time the bigger or more formal restaurant (mainly in the southern area) will bring a hot towel to you for wiping your face and hands.

On Chinese table, the main tool for eating is chopsticks. This is the main difference from Westerners' tables.

If you go to the restaurant with some officers or people who are older than you, you have to pay attention to the seat. Generally speaking, the seat on the northern side or opposite to the door is the main seat. We call it "seat of honor". You should ask the most important person in your group to sit there.

The dishes are sent one by one, including the meat, vegetable, and soup and so on. You could eat all of them at the same time, or one by one. When you have had most of main dishes, then main food will be sent on the table, such as rice, noodle, Jiaozi and another food you had ordered.

In the bigger restaurants, there is fruit for you (in the small restaurants they decide whether or not to give you fruit according to the price of your food); generally the fruit is made in a beautiful form. Then, there is some dessert in the southern area and there is another tea for you.

While you're eating, you can talk with your friends. When you're done, all of the food would will be taken away and only tea will be left on the table. Now you can pay the bill while you continue to talk and drink tea until the time you would like to leave. In most of the places of China, you need not pay a tip to the waiters. In Shenzhen and Hong Kong, we generally pay a little, but it is not required.

Thanks a lot for your reading, any questions, suggection and comments are welcomed.