Have you eaten yet?
While talking to my Mom on Skype the other day, she had commented that I refer to food a lot in my blogs. Either about what I had ate that day, where the group went out to eat, or how much the food was that we had bought. I told her that I do not intentionally mean to blog about food so much, but now after thinking about and having gained a bit of understanding about food in the Chinese culture I can understand why this topic occurs so often in my blogs.
In China people often greet each other by saying "吃饭了没有?" (Chi fan le mei you?) which literally means "Have you eaten yet?" but in the context of a greeting it merely means "Hello" or "How are you?" The person who asks this is not actually curious as to if you've eaten or not yet. I wish I would have known this during my Chinese classes at UMD this last year. Almost everyday our Chinese Professor would come into class and ask the class "Have you eaten yet?" We always just assumed she was making sure that we were staying healthy and eating, or that she was very curious as to what we ate for lunch. The confused look she would get on her face after we would say to her "Yes we are SO full," makes so much more sense now.
Today Professor Li gave the group advice for if we are every unsure of where to eat. He told us to follow the people and eat where the people are. Now I notice that everywhere we have gone there have been a lot of people around. Even when I think about food in the context of holidays in America it involves people ... family and friends. This is especially true in China but not just for holidays. Food brings people together and creates community among them. It makes sense why food is such a big deal in a culture high in collectivism such as China.