A Chinese meal begins with soup and appetizers. Typically you may find Wonton Soup, Manchow soup or Sweet corn soup. The non-vegetarian variety adds pork and chicken soups. However the list is big, the commonly available starters are chicken lollipops, spring rolls and wontons.
In a Chinese meal, dinner is given to each individual with his or her own bowl of rice while the accompanying dishes are served bowls that are shared by everyone sitting at the table. This is in contrast to western meals where individual servings of the dishes are customary at the beginning of the meal.
According to the Confucius standards, food is cut into bite-size pieces while it is being prepared, so none of it has to be cut at the table. This is a custom that is definitely unique to the Chinese culture.
Instead of a knife and fork, the Chinese eat with chopsticks, a pair of wooden sticks held in one hand. Chopsticks used for eating are usually 10 inch long. Ask someone who is expert at eating with chopsticks to show you how to hold and use them. Chopsticks, held in the other hand, are used to help scoop the rice into the person's mouth.
Almost anything can be, and is, eaten with chopsticks; soups are obviously eaten with porcelain spoon provided. When eating rice, the rice bowl is held close to the mouth and the chopstick used to ferry the rice is held at the short remaining distance.
Chinese meal always contains an equal division of fan (grains, rice or other starches), and cai (cooked meat and vegetables). Chinese food is grain and vegetable-based, with meat, seafood, or poultry playing more of a secondary role. A wider contrast is provided by the variety of dishes all served at the same time; a meal can thus consist of a combination of simple and complicated dishes, sweet and mild versus sour flavours, bitter versus salty, dark and pale ingredients, bland versus hot and peppery, or simply hot versus cold in temperature.
A variety of fried rice or noodles form the basis of main-course, have them with different sauces or gravies to best enjoy Chinese food. Try chilli chicken, Manchurian Chicken or Sichuan vegetables.
For dessert, the Chinese normally prefer fresh fruits. And what about tea? After all, tea is China’s national drink; there are nearly hundreds types of tea cultivated in China.
Today, Chinese cuisine is popular around the world with its regional variations like Cantonese, Sichuan, Shanghai, Hong-Kong, Singapore and American, be it American style Chopsuey, Hong-Kong noodles or Cantonese spring rolls. Even the very famous hakka noodles that we eat today are invention of Hakka community of China which is well adapted in India. Chinese recipes are all about invention and modification. Now, it’s time to experiment a few more at home.