American and Chinese Eating Cultures

Food, and how different cultures perceive it. In societal growth as well as human civilization, food plays a significant role. Food in its self is a vital part of the existence of human. Despite this, different countries have their own food and food customs. This is caused by the fact that these countries have a culture that is unique to them. The aim of this paper is to look at the differences between the Chinese food culture and the American food culture.

Food culture is a significant cultural experience. This paper dives deeper in the Chinese and American food cultures and more specifically on the concept, etiquette, ways of eating food, and content. The Chinese and the American cultures have a lot of differences in their food cultures. One of these cultures is the way they eat. The Chinese eating culture is largely influenced by their traditional culture. When they eat, the Chinese often prefer a round table rather than a rectangular one.

American vs Chinese Way of Eating

They sit circling the table, this is essential because it forms an atmosphere that creates harmony as well as solidarity while sharing their food. This is a collective way of eating (Xiong, 2017). This collective way of eating makes a harmonious environment as people make toasts while sharing dishes amongst families and friends. This brings out the traditional Chinese virtue. In the United States when people sit down to eat, whether that is food between family members or guests in a friendly lunch or dinner, they stick to eating their own food.

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This is referred to as an individual way of eating. In America, they are most probably going to enjoy their food in long tables where one can eat separately (Xiong, 2017). This kind of eating seems to be a little cheerless, however, it represents not only a health concept but also austerity.

Chinese Way of Eating and Table Arrangement

Another difference between the Chinese way of eating and the American way, is the different seating arrangements and tableware. In the Chinese culture, the south facing seat in a feast is often regarded as the most important one while the north facing seat is less significant. China has a history that goes over five thousand years. In all Chinese dynasties, the emperor used to occupy the south-facing seat in all the ceremonies and also while discussing matters of state affairs with his ministers. All the ministers would sit facing north which is where the emperor would be sitting (Samovar et al., 2015). For this reason, the seats facing south in any formal feast are always preserved for the respected or powerful individuals. When eating, there is a great difference in the Chinese and the American tableware.

The Chinese make use of chopsticks while sharing and eating their food, while the Americans, like most western cultures, use a knife and a fork. In America, they often use gender to organize their seats. For example, the host and the hostess occupy the seats that would put them in a position to face one another (Samovar et al., 2015). The seat on the right side of the host is occupied by the lady of honor. The gentleman of honor sits on the right side of the hostess and couples sit on the same side, however, other people occupy seats between the couples so as to spread conversation around the table and not only in between groups. Men seat not according to their age but status, unlike the Chinese. Another difference between those two popular cultures, is that the Chinese prioritize the taste of the food as opposed to its nutritional value.

Noisy Eating Environment vs Quiet Environment

They perceive nutrition to be of less importance. Eating is significant in China since for years their low productivity has not been in a great state due to how poor the general population used to be, and still is at some extent. Thus the Chinese believe the taste of the food to be the predominant factor for their selection and they give less importance to the color, nutrition, and aroma (Bell & Valentine, 2013). In America, they prefer nutrition and how healthy a specific food is, as opposed to other factors. The Americans have a rational diet which makes them prioritize more on the nutritional value of the food. The Americans believe in food as being a way to keep them alive and healthy and that is why they chose to pursue the more nutrient way. This makes them spend a lot of their time calculating the amount of vitamins and calories they should consume daily (Bell & Valentine, 2013). Differences between those cultures also occur in the environment while eating. One culture establishes a quiet eating environment and another a noisy eating environment. The eating environment of the Americans is often quiet as opposed to the Chinese noisy eating environment.

The Americans are usually are extremely active within the day this is why they prefer to have a quiet meal. However, in China, everyone gathers around the table to share their meal. They use food as a medium for conversing and exchanging ideas and feelings, (Xiong, 2017). For one to obtain a deep insight into the differences that exist between the Chinese and American food culture, it is significant for him/her to understand their concepts, ideas, and ways of eating as well as contents of what they chose to eat. Two really different cultures, but two cultures that use food to enjoy and also keep family close together.

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American and Chinese Eating Cultures. (2021, Nov 11). Retrieved from

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