Dietary Restrictions in China

Discovering Beijing and Inner Mongolia, China

Major: Leadership for Organizational Learning and Performance through the College of Education and Human Development

By: Tamara Kay York

In China they eat a LOT of pork and Lamb.  I do not eat a lot of meat (0 pork) so it was very good that there is almost always rice and/or noodles – you just need to ask if there is meat.  Most of the food is boiled or steamed, but I did not have, or hear of, one time where the food was not cooked thoroughly.  Everyone is very friendly and appreciates questions and wanting to know what the local customs are, even referring to meals and food preferences, so they were not one offended or upset that I asked what was being served, or that I did not eat everything that was ordered/served.

The restaurant experience is always interesting no matter how many restaurants we go to.  1) because we are American tourists we get looked at – a lot, 2) the staff at the Chinese restaurants do not know any English but pointing at dishes does work well (and everyone smiles during the process), 3) if you go to the Western restaurants like Pizza Hut, KFC, or McDonald’s the staff knows a bit of English but it is still best to point to your selection/s just to make sure, and 4) 95% of the time there is English translation on the menu’s.  11 out of the 13 nights we had dinner as a group and the professor would order dinner, but he took into consideration what we liked/didn’t like during the process, and when the food would arrive to the table he would let us know what each item was and if it had meat in it/what meat it was (chicken, lamb, pork, etc). The restaurant staff is very nice and genuinely excited about having tourists in their establishments (even give free drinks and items to try – was very nice !). If we were in between school related activities and wanted to have lunches on our own or in smaller groups we visited the near by restaurants without incident and was able to order and eat successfully (using chop sticks was a bit of a chore for me the first day but they will get you a fork and/or spoon if you ask, and I did manage to master it). Generally speaking, tips are not accepted so therefore we did not tip, and we left our plates on the tables.  This was very uncomfortable for me as I like to tip, and I never assume that my dishes will be picked up after me if there is a general trash can within the open/common area.  I did try and tip a few times because I felt the staff went out of the way for my comfort and preferences, and tried to communicate with us, and it was only accepted once.

Exercise Dance in Square. Taken by Tamara Kay York
Exercise Dance in Square. Taken by Tamara Kay York
Dr. Liu, faculty director, at the Grasslands
Dr. Liu, faculty director, at the Grasslands

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