by Xiao Chengjia

During the period of MCM program, one of my biggest progress is to start to learn how to cook. So, kitchen-the place where I never set foot in before becomes the place where I spend a lot of time. In the kitchen, I observe a lot of interesting difference between eastern and western culture. Those difference give me a great experience to feel the unique charm and value of Chinese and Western diet culture.

Different Things between East and West

Tools: First of all, the tools that Chinese and western people used to cook are very different. Well, Chinese like to use a frying pan, stockpot, electric rice cooker to make soup, rice, noodle or vegetables, while the Westerns prefer frying pan, oven, cooker and toaster, used for frying eggs and sausages, baking biscuits, making barbecue, stewing some vegetables and meat. Especially they always use toaster in preparing breakfast.

Dishes: Chinese people like the hot dish, always cook with very high temperature while the Westerns perfer cold dish. Salad without cook is a very common dish in western countries, and the same thing happens in some cans such as corn or pea cans, the western way is openning up and just eat directly. About the rice or noodles, western people like making other side dish then eat them together, sometime they mix the side dish and the rice or noodle before they eat them. But Chinese people prefer to seperate the rice and dishes.What’s more, Chinese people are good at Staple food, while the Westerns are better at making cookies, cakes and desserts. For meat, the Chinese prefer to cut them into slice for cooking, and more Western people choose the whole piece of meat to make the steak or meat row, then eat it by using knife and fork.

Materials: In common, Chinese and the Westerns are basic the same in the material. In other words,they usually cook the same food, but very different in how they match the materials. For example, you can find potatoes, onions, carrots and mushrooms nearly in each Western dishes, cooking with beef, lamb or chicken breast. But Chinese food basically have no “universal match” as usual, the reason they choose materials is according to the different season and the specialty of the place where they live. Chinese also follow their own preferences and today’s mood to select side dishes. So in China, a lot of things can be put in the different way of cooking, resulting in a variety of changes in taste, this is a wonderful chemical reaction. And through different way of cooking , even if exactly the same materials can make a lot of different dishes and taste.

Ingredients: Chinese people usually cook with oil, salt, sauce, vinegar, cooking wine, sugar, monosodium glutamate and other essential, whlie the Westerns commonly used cheese and a variety of sauces, such as tomato sauce. Therefore Chinese dish is concentrated color, sometimes you can only see ingredients, because the spices have melt in the food. Western cuisine is different, because the food always accompanied by sauces, gravy, and sometime you can see obvious cheese block.

Table manners: the biggest difference is not the cooking process, but the table manners. First of all, as is known to all, Chinese people use chopsticks to eat, while the Westerns use knives and forks. Secondly, Chinese people won’t place cruets with salt, sugar or pepper on table unless they are eating dumplings. So you can hardly hear “pass me the salt bottle, please” on table. Thirdly, in ancient China, there is a very important family etiquette: “Do not speak when you are eating,” people were not allowed to speak when they have meal together. However, nowadays Chinese has given up this rule, young people like to use the dinner time to chat, just like the Westerns. The dinner table has become into a good place to communicate with families and friends.

In addition to these interesting findings, I also feel that the kitchen is not just a place for cooking, but also a very good place to meet new friends. I’ve known some kind and friendly persons here, we talked about the food, weather, our course and many interesting topics while we cooking together. I think that is a great chance to make new friend and learn more about different countries. Cooking together is a good way to build a friendship with someone.

In one word, I’m a new beginner in cooking, that makes my mind faces life like a small child, full of curiosity and wonder. And I hope I can still feel amazement and going to make more friends in kitchen–the magic place.