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Chinese Food Rituals

Chinese Banquet
Banquet food is always too salty, too rich, and too
greasy. And the dishes are always more or less the
Classic Chinese banquetsfor weddings, family gettogethers, and political and cultural association
gatheringsentail sitting down to a meal with dozens, if
not hundreds, of other guests, a situation that favors
mass production and standardization over artistry and

Funeral food
Food offerings are pervasive in funeral ceremonies as
gestures of paying final respects to loved ones. Their
presence appears simple or subtle, but behind that lays
elaborate and codified traditions. At formal funeral
services food is placed neatly and orderly on a table
facing the deceased. These offerings include a roast pig,
chicken, duck,jai(a vegetarian dish), rice, fruit, tea and
wine. Incense sticks stand among the food offerings.
Incense burns and its wisps of smoke summon the
relative's ancestral spirits to come and help the newly
deceased on their next journey.

Funeral food
There must be five different kinds of fruit, one each of
the five different colors: green, yellow, red, white and
black. These five elements correspond with the five
directions: Green for east; yellow for center; red for
south; white for west; and black for north. The reason for
these is to signify the various directions, should the spirit
of the deceased not know the direction they are headed.
These fruits symbolically guides them.

Food in Wedding
Sharks Fin Soup.Soup usually follows the appetizers. The type of soup has
some significance, for example, sharks fin soup indicates wealth because this
delicacy is very expensive.
Roast Suckling Pig.Roasted pork is a symbol of virginity. (The groom
presents a whole roasted pork to the brides family at the engagement party.)
Peking Duck and Lobster.Red is the color for happiness, so serving Peking
duck and lobster would signify joy and celebration. Also, serving the dish
whole, i.e. with the head and legs, would symbolize completeness.
Squab (or Other Fowl).According to Shu Shu Costa, the author ofWild
Geese and Tea,pigeon has tender meat that symbolizes peace. Usually two
pigeons are offered to wish the newlyweds peace as they start their new life
together. Squab (pigeon) is similar to quail, so they both probably symbolize

Food in Wedding
Vegetables with Sea Cucumber.Serving sea
cucumber with vegetables is a sign of selflessness
because sea cucumber sounds like good heart and
this dish wishes the couple to think in a similar way to
avoid conflict.
Fish.Serving fish would hope that the couple will
experience a life together with abundance because
fish sounds like plentiful in Chinese. Noodles
served at the end would symbolize longevity because
noodles come in long strands.

Food in Wedding
Sweet Red Bean Soup and Sweet Buns.Serving dessert probably wishes
the newlyweds a sweet life. The hot sweet red bean soup should contain lotus
seeds (lian zi) and a bark-like vegetable (bak hop) to wish the newlyweds a
hundred years of togetherness. The sweet lotus paste in sweetened steamed
bread symbolizes fertility; it is shaped and colored to resemble peaches (ta zi),
since the peach represents long life. The sticky dumpling you describe,
covered with crushed peanuts with black sesame paste in the center, is
calledmochi. (You might consider mochi with lotus paste or red bean paste for
their symbolic value rather than black sesame paste.)
At the end of the banquet, waiters usually pass out take-out boxes to the
guests because there is usually enough food for everyone and some left over;
this represents abundance. It is acceptable to take some of the food home
because it is not good to waste good food or anything else for that matter.

Food in Wedding
Tea, alcohol, and 7-Up are almost always supplied at a
Chinese wedding banquet. Offeringteais a sign of
respect. Alcohol is served to celebrate the special
occasion. (In Chinese, going to a dinner banquet is
synonymous to going to drink alcohol; and in
Cantonese, to go drinking literally means go to a
bar.) And 7-Up sounds like seven happiness, since
the words for up and happiness are homophones.)