Dos and don'ts: School of Wok's Chinese culinary traditions
While Italian food is one of the most popular and widely-cooked cuisines in the UK, we're still making plenty of mistakes, well that's according to Academia Barilla anyway. The respected institute promoting Italian cuisine has published '10 Italian Cooking Commandments': a list of culinary no-nos and common slip-ups that make real Italians wince.
For example, these Parma-based experts say that it's wrong to sip cappuccinos with a meal; instead, they should be reserved for breakfasts only!
You also SHOULD NOT: add oil to pasta water (oil should only be added once the pasta's drained); serve spaghetti with Bolognese (tagliatelle is the most traditional accompaniment); expect Italian restaurants to have red-and-white checkered tablecloths (this is just a stereotype!).
However, one of the combinations that shocks Italians most is tomato ketchup on pasta. Academia Barilla labelled this a "real gourmet crime" – "Keep ketchup for your French fries or hot dogs, please!"
Taking inspiration from this list, we thought we'd recreate a Chinese version, guiding those who are a bit unfamiliar with the culture through a list of dos and don'ts. They're not all culinary rules, but just auspicious traditions that usually involve an element of good/bad luck!
While some find it hard to even use chopsticks, there are several other rules/traditions you should probably be aware of when eating with them. For example, sticking your chopsticks upright in your rice bowl is considered bad luck, given that they are reminiscent of incense sticks used to commemorate the dead!
Others say that you also SHOULD NOT: tap your chopsticks on your bowl (pretending to drum); use unmatched chopsticks; use chopsticks one at a time; use chopsticks to serve from shared dishes; spear food with your chopsticks.
Furthermore...according to School of Wok Head Chef Jeremy, "you should never point your chopsticks at people – it's bad luck (like most other things!)."
Never shake your legs at the table as it shakes away all your luck.
Always serve your elders first - meaning that the youngest at the table will always eat last.
As for your rice, Jeremy said the tradition goes: "for every grain of rice you leave in your bowl, your wife or partner will have that many spots when you get older!"
Fill your fellow diner's tea cup when it's empty, especially if they are older.
When people pour tea for you, tap twice with your index finger on the table to say "that's enough thank you". As Jeremy says, "it's an unspoken tap - much like 'checking' at a poker table". Never shower on Chinese New Year as it washes away all of your good fortune! However, the most important rule according to School of Wok is: don't be afraid to slurp at the dinner table...the louder the better!