Articles - China Daily

 

Eating Peas - the Correct Way

I eat my peas with honey
I’ve done it all my life
It makes the peas taste funny
But it keeps them on my knife!

Travelers the world over discover pretty early on how easy it is to offend their national hosts by their ignorance of local customs. A Chinese friend of mine, for instance, explained that at a formal Chinese meal the host should always place himself nearest the door while the ‘guest of honor’ should sit facing the door with other guests seated away from the honored guest in order of seniority or importance.

Having been brought up in England, I was educated pretty early on in the various differences between UK customs and American customs with regards to table etiquette.  And nowhere was this more marked than in the way Americans used their cutlery when eating.

Europeans always hold their fork in the left hand, while Americans shift it between their left and right hands, using it on the left when cutting something and then transferring it to the right hand to bring the food to the mouth.

In Europe, the golden rule is for the tines of the fork always to remain pointing down. And the English take this one stage further in that they never (in formal company at least) turn their forks over to shovel the food up.

This can lead to amusing results when foreigners try to emulate the British and attempt to eat their peas by lifting them up on the backs of their forks. Mind you… watching a European getting to grips with chopsticks can, I suspect, sometimes be as amusing for the Chinese!