Every culture has different traditions and different etiquette. Meeting parents family for the first time is always a challenge, but when they are from a different culture, you have to be even more careful. Chinese culture is all about respect to the parents and family members, even though you are a guest, you should not relax too much but be alert.
First of all, I need to tell you something. I screwed up at the first family lunch. As I am quite shy when I meet new people, all I wanted was to disappear under the table. AH introduced me to some of the family members but as Chinese families tend to be very big, you might find it challenging.
First rule, let them order first. While they do it, you should make sure they get their tea served and water for a plate rinse. I completely forgot about it and just sat. Not the greatest impression.
Rule number two – make sure you don’t eat too much but you try what they offer. You can’t just eat one dish by yourself, and you should accept everything that is offered.
Rule number three, you should try following all the conversations around you, even if all 14 people at the table talk about different things. You might be asked to join the conversation any moment.
Rule number four, do not forget to thank everyone and especially the host. This is a must, no way you miss it!
What to expect for lunch.
Most of the times if you are meeting a Cantonese family for lunch, you are most likely to go for a dimsum lunch, which is a traditional family dining for a weekend. Many things you can expect to see – chicken feet, dumplings, abalone and beef brisket.
I was lucky and I had two family arrangements on the same day – lunch and dinner. Lunch was a traditional dim sum, but dinner was something interesting.
We visited a hawker in Sha Tin in Kowloon, which is quite a destination to reach. Turned out that it is one of the longest hawkers that are there with the best pigeons in Hong Kong.
Pigeon experience was something new for me. Normally in Russia we would not eat them, but do eat some other game. So the taste of the pigeon was nice. The crisp just made it all even better.
Another highlight was the deep fried squid that tasted heavenly and was the main competitor to the pigeon. Even though those seem to be fatty and greasy, it is balanced out with the steamed vegetables and rice congee.
The food experiences were great and the family meetings were a bit stressful but enjoyable.
Have you ever attended Chinese family lunch? How did you go through the family introduction?