Living with a Chinese Family (Homestay Program): Chinese Food

Hey ! My name is Laura Polony and I am doing an internship at MTA Network, here in Qingdao. I graduated last year in business at HEC Lausanne in Switzerland and wanted to gain practical experiences, that’s why I moved to China. I had the opportunity to live with a Chinese family for three months and here’s what I have to say about Chinese food. Keep on reading!

Chinese Food

It is really interesting to have a look at the Chinese (everyday) life. I will start with the Chinese food. It’s a hot topic for all expats and of debate here in China. As it is for me, definitely one of the most interesting ones.

What’s the Difference?

IMG_8706Chinese don’t have the same food culture as ours. I mean, in most of western countries we go to the restaurant to share a moment. The restaurant itself is as important as the food we get in on our plates. Here, I think that most of the time people go to the restaurant to eat, more than to share a special moment or occasion etc. Food takes a up big place in everyday Chinese life and I think that the “Chi fan le ma” question to ask if someone is doing good but which literally means “have you eaten” is a great way to reflect this fact.

I have to say that before moving to China I told myself “I like Chinese food but to eat it everyday will be kind of hard”. I was definitely wrong. Chinese food is so varied, and especially here in Qingdao with the sea being so close.

Eating culture

chinese food
Chinese food by my host family
Living in a Chinese family was extraordinary because I tried a lot of things I wouldn’t have tried if I were alone, without asking anything. The sound of the names of some dishes can sometimes encourage you to shy away, but you can be really surprised! In a good way!

If I were home, I would start with a dish and then go on to the next. Moreover, I wouldn’t mix meat and fish but here, it’s different. Chinese eat everything at the same time. You eat a few peanuts and then you eat 2 spoons of your soup but at the same time you eat your fish and your meat or even your fish and your meat in the form of Chinese bread (not exactly but it’s for you to have an idea of what it is). If you only focus on one specific dish, they will think you don’t like the other ones and will ask you why you don’t try this or that. I found this particularly amusing because with time, you start to eat just like they do! While learning to appreciate mixing everything all together. (if it was not the case before).

The famous Chinese drinking Culture

Ganbei at the dinner!
Gan-bei at the dinner!
Related to food, there is the alcohol. Chinese drink A. lot. Especially here with the local beer “Tsingtao” (which I later learnt is actually available all over the world). Through my Chinese family, I had the chance to experiment with the “Gan-bei” (kind of cheers). Imagine that it’s 12am, you are having lunch with your family and friends and suddenly, one of the table’s members springs up and starts to make a toast. Sounds normal no? But then you quickly understand that someone is doing this every 10 or 15 minutes (the time between each toast becoming steadily shorter as the alcohol is flowing into systems) and that most of the time you have to drink your glass “bottoms-up…”

In a Chinese family, you experiment with all aspects of Chinese culture everything. You don’t really know what you find out next It’s surprising not only keeping you “on your toes” but actually looking forward to what you’re going to learn next!

I hope you liked my first blog! There will be part 2 and 3, so stay tuned!

Check out our China Homestay page!


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