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Chinese Banquets E-mail
City Life - Culture
Written by Momo
As a foreigner living in China, I've had countless banquets thrown with me being the guest of honor. A banquet to welcome me, a banquet to see me off, and banquets in between with numerous leaders, members of the communist party and sometimes just interested people who want my friendship and a chance to practice their English. The banquets start off with handshakes all around, translation when needed, and creating a seating arrangement that is suitable for the neccesary 'feng shui', with the guest of honor facing the door. Drinking is a major deal at the banquets, and any excuse to drink will be made. "Lets drink to this" and "lets drink to that..." Sometimes it's exhausting.

The custom is to start off with three toasts,filling your glass after each one, one for friendship, one for happiness, and one for something else although at the moment the reason has slipped my mind. At the banquets 'baijiu' is drunk which is a potent rice wine akin to Japanese sake if you've ever had that.

After the initial round of toasts of rice wine, the food comes. And comes. And comes. There is always so much food that one would burst if they took more than one bite of each dish. Plates are carefully stacked on top of each other so as to provide access to the food, but to also save space as there wouldn't be enough if they all sat on the spinning disk that is in the center of the table so noone has to reach too far for their food.

All the food is communal, and people just take what they want, I enjoy this part of eating in China, sharing food, and you get to sample far more then if you ordered your own idividual amount. So, after the first few dishes of food come, it's time to have another round of toasts. China is one big smoking lounge, which suits me fine as I'm a smoker, so it's drinking and smoking and eating in large quantities. Just when you think the eating is over, here comes the "fuwuyuan" or waitress with a platter that is holding bowls of noodles or something.

Basically, to be polite, you have to eat what you are given and usually at some point during the banquet the amount of food you eat borders ridiculous. Sometimes these banquets last three hours with the guests eating and drinking the whole time. They are sort of a tiring experience, when I attend one I feel as if I have to adhere to customs that I don't know, and demonstrate the most refined of manners, all while extremely drunk and full.

Chinese hospitality is hard to beat, although it's possible to have too much of a good thing, and usually at one time or another during the banquet, I wish I was eating a dinner of simple stif fried vegetables alone in some small hole in the wall 'fan dian' or restaurant. I'm always relieved when the host says, "Lets go" and stands up to leave. By that time I'm ready for a good long sleep, and the hangover that ensues the next day.

Our valuable Editor Momo has been with us since Thursday, 24 January 2013.

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+2 #2 Momo 2013-09-07 22:51
Quoting Ruby Tuesday:
China has dramatically cut down on the number of banquets since Xi Jinping's coming to power and his anti-corruption drive.

Another rather shallow article. Get a proof reader. You can't spell

It's nice to have a red fan like you here. How dare you mention that ccp thug jinping! *lol* "anti-corruption drive"? "dramatically cut down on the number of banquets" *lol*. Yeah, sure. JinPing is surely a shining example for anti-corruption "drives". Muahaha! You are insane + blind.

I have written 4 articles for this site so far. And you? What did you contribute except pissing around and praising a CCP thief. Great comment dude!
-3 #1 Ruby Tuesday 2013-09-07 19:22
China has dramatically cut down on the number of banquets since Xi Jinping's coming to power and his anti-corruption drive.

Another rather shallow article. Get a proof reader. You can't spell

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