Customs in China can be a bit confusing for a foreigner, especially during meals. Indeed, simply learning how to properly use chopsticks may be a real challenge for some people. But if you master chopsticks use, it is now time for you to complete your Chinese etiquette knowledge!
When arriving to the restaurant, make sure you do not sit down before the guest of honour does, as this is considered rude. Also, do not be surprised if you do not get to order food, because the host usually orders a variety of food for the whole table to share. It is also very important to respect the elders in China: do not start eating before they have -or at least before they have given a sign telling you that you can start eating-. It is also a nice gesture to refill their rice bowls when refilling your own.
Concerning the chopsticks, make sure that you use the serving spoons and not your own chopsticks when getting food from the dishes in the middle of the table. Another important fact is that Chinese people put their chopsticks vertically in rice bowls during funerals so do not do it in any other context! Simply put your chopsticks on the chopstick rest, or next to your bowl.
by Ines Jackson