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Eating at a Chinese state banquet

2014-05-21 16:52 chinadaily.com.cn Web Editor: Si Huan
Lion's head (File photo)

Lion's head (File photo)

A state banquet is a dinner hosted by the government to welcome guests from other countries. The largest state banquets in China are held at the Great Hall of the People which can hold at least 5,000 people. The dishes at the banquets usually represent famous Chinese cooking styles from all over the country.

To make the dishes suitable for guests from different countries, several generations of chefs have been improving their cooking skills over the years. There are said to be some very harsh hygienic requirements at China's state banquets, for example, a chef must follow six procedures to wash his hands to make sure they are thoroughly clean.

There are also certain courtesy rules to follow at a state banquet in China.

1. If the translators from China are present, they should sit behind the guests and they won't join the dinner.

2. The host usually welcomes the guests in another room first and walks them into the dinning hall.

3. In order to avoid unnecessary misunderstandings, the tables are often marked by the names of different kinds of flowers instead of numbers.

4. The dishes should be prepared in a way that can elegantly show Chinese cooking culture. Meanwhile, the guests'cultures and religions are taken into consideration.

Here are some famous dishes from past banquets.

Lion's head

This was one of Premier Zhou En Lai's favorite state banquet dishes (Premier Zhou Enlai was the first Premier of China). Lion's head is a dish from the Huaiyang cuisine of eastern China. It is made of large pork meatballs stewed with vegetables. There are two varieties: a plain one and a cooked version with soy sauce.

Peking duck

Peking duck is a famous dish from Beijing that has been prepared since the imperial era, and is now considered a national dish of China.

Yunnan matsutake soup

Yunnan matsutake soup Matsutake is a rare mushroom grown in the high mountains of Yunnan. It's considered to be rich in nutrition.

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