Will COVID-19 change the tradition of communal meals in China?
邓晶 | 供稿
In China, communal eating is considered crucial for bonding. In the memories of most Chinese, one of the happiest moments in their lives was seated around a table with families or friends, sharing dishes and piling on food.
In the campaign against the COVID-19 outbreak, this dining tradition has been greatly challenged. Since each diner picks food out of the communal plates on a bite-by-bite basis with their chopsticks, the virus can be transferred from saliva to chopsticks to the dish. What’s worse, diners often serve others with their own eating utensils to express friendliness and care. Several cases of coronavirus are thought to have spread through families when sharing food during the Chinese New Year period.
Communal eating has thus become a target of both governments and restaurants. Posters have been released by local governments to encourage people to use serving utensils. Concerned about customers being wary of returning to restaurants, the catering industry has willingly joined the campaign. Many restaurants, once allowed to reopen, have immediately sprung into action, particularly offering set meals for one single person.
These changes are likely to continue and could be solidified by local regulations, as eating together separately can always protect the public health. The measures will shape the traditional mealtime etiquette.
The move away from a traditional cultural practice is ongoing. But as Wang Renxiang, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences said, "In modern times to eat individually may lose some tradition, but it can also mean more opportunities for creating something new in Chinese cuisine and eating habits."
communal - adj. 公用的
since - conj. 由于
utensil - n. 用具
etiquette - n. 礼仪