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ref:topbtw-1102.html/ 24 Dicembre 2017/A

Un piccolo assaggino..
Lo hai già mangiato ?
Have you eaten yet?

Cina: da un posto qualsiasi..

"Have you eaten yet?"

In many parts of China, this is the replacement of the word 'Hello'.

To foreigners this may seem odd, but in reality, food is such a vital part of Chinese lives, more so than in western countries.

I take the school bus to and from school, and during the ride I usually see hundreds of little food places along the streets.
They aren't restaurants:
smaller, sometimes with only the kitchen inside and tables laid out on the streets.

This is partly done for the cost, but it is also done to create a more welcoming atmosphere.
The street itself can become a large fair during rush hour in the afternoons, with tables all filled up, people buying take-aways and vendors with food carts roasting meat and making 'pancakes' quickly to sell them to passersbys so they can eat it on the way home.

But why so much fuss?
Why is this so different than in other countries?
Well, it all lies in time.

In the south for example, schools finish at around four, and offices finish at around five.
Dinner will be from five to six pm, and then most families will either stay home or go outside to take a walk, dance ( or meet with other people in the same neighborhood.

Now, making Chinese food is a tiresome strain:
as we can see in most Chinese restaurants, it is usually in 'buffet' form, and this takes a long time to make:
for a family of three, there will be about four plates of different vegetables, meat, fish, one bowl of rice each, and sometimes even soup.

Making all this can range from one to two hours for each meal.

Chinese breakfasts are simpler than other meals.
There are some things which are widespread such as jianbing, soy milk and dough sticks, baozi and porridge, but in the end each region has its own breakfast.

Cafeterias in schools and sometimes work places offer lunch.
Dinner is the most elaborate meal, and some families may even employ part-time cooks to make dinner for them.

This is why take-away and online delivery have both been so successful in China:
students, teachers, staff, workers, literally anyone can order food.
I know that in my school when students don't want to eat at the cafeteria, they'll order food and drinks online and they will deliver it immediately.

Some restaurants don't even have a physical restaurant, just a kitchen and an online menu.
It is common for people to order more than they could possibly eat, and finish off in the next few days.

People coming home from work can either make food themselves, have a cook make it for them, order online or eat on the streets.
In other countries when someone is busy with no time to eat, they will eat at fast-foods, have a coffee-and-go or even skip meals, but it's different here.

Chinese have gone to great lengths, even incorporating modern technology, in order to eat a proper, traditional meal.

Cortesia di L.B.

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