The most important meal – Breakfast in China
Visiting a country half a world away is the perfect opportunity to sample a whole other culture. The country’s food and drink scene provide a great insight into how native people live their lives, and visitors to China will find a host of delicious dishes and exotic delicacies to try.
Experimenting with local cuisine is easy in all Chinese towns and cities, but what can you look forward to tucking into for the most important meal of the day, breakfast?
Is breakfast important in China?
In the western world, breakfast is billed as an essential way to fuel up for the day ahead. It’s been proven that those who eat breakfast reap several rewards, including boosted energy levels, improved weight management, better brain function, and lower risk of heart disease, and diabetes. The same benefits are recognised in China, with locals generally never skipping the good stuff at the very start of the day.
What does a typical Chinese breakfast look like?
Breakfast may be important, but the Chinese definitely do the first meal of the day a little differently. Traditionally you’ll find no slice of toast or bowl of cereal washed down with a tea or coffee here.
Instead, people eat deep-fried dough sticks, steamed buns, tofu pudding, wheat noodles or rice noodles, with a hot cup of soybean milk.
Lovers of porridge won’t be disappointed though. Congee or rice porridge is a favourite amongst the locals. Congee can be served sweet or salty, and you’ll be able to choose from a wide variety of toppings which differ from region to region. People wanting to enjoy a savoury flavour can top their bowl of congee with pickled vegetables, fermented tofu, peanuts, eggs, or meat. While those looking to sample the sweeter side of China can enjoy congee varieties made from black rice, red beans, peanuts and coix seeds.
How does breakfast etiquette differ in China?
Breakfast is generally served between 7am and 9am as it is at home but that’s where the similarities end. Bloggers K & V from Him Her Adventure explain more about what to expect from Chinese breakfast etiquette:
“Some things to note about a typical Chinese morning. Breakfast is rarely prepared at home; breakfast is never skipped; people don’t read the newspaper over breakfast, people rarely drink hot tea or coffee- but rather a cup of hot soy milk (jiang 江) instead; breakfast is served up hot, hearty, and quick; breakfast is usually eaten on the street and served from about 5am-11am. If you take your breakfast on-the-go for work, each item is given in individually wrapped plastic bags (soy milk + straw included).”
As detailed above, breakfast is eaten on the go, making it one of the best times of the day to sample the street food scene in all its glory. Lunch is generally eaten with the same vigour, with a heartier meal served for dinner. Discover more dining etiquette tips just in time for your trip to China.