Enjoying a Family Meal in Rural China

Enjoying a Family Meal in Rural China. Photo credit: Jenny Lin / News TravelingMom.

Dogs, scorpions and eels – these are foods you can find in China but probably won’t. When you imagine taking a family trip to China, you may think of weird, exotic food and wonder if there will be anything to eat. The short answer is – whatever your tastes, there is plenty. Here are some things you may not know about eating in China.








  1. Western fast food is everywhere in China’s cities. That’s no exaggeration. When we lived in China, our Beijing neighborhood had a Dairy Queen, Haagen Dazs, Subway, Pizza Hut and McDonalds – to name only a few.
  2. They eat rice. And kebabs. And noodles. And bread. Yes, simple, familiar fare. Learn to say “dan chao fan” for egg fried rice or “la mien” for pulled noodles and you will have some basics.
  3. If you limit yourself to #1 and #2, you will miss out on a wealth of tastes. If you don’t like something, try something else. Or research in advance the names of dishes you might like. Carry a list.

    Twins eating lamb kebabs in Beijing

    My twins eating lamb kebabs in Beijing. Photo credit: Jenny Lin / News TravelingMom.

  4. China has perhaps the most diverse array of food of any country. You could live there for years and still keep trying new dishes.
  5. Even translated menus in China leave much to the imagination. “Ants crawling up a tree?” Well, just order it and see.
  6. Your kids will like Chinese food. Nobody can do vegetables like the Chinese, so let them see if they like some after all. Did I mention lamb kebabs? And follow your own advice. Don’t like eggplant? Try it “fish flavored” or spicy meaty tofu.
  7. Despite this, little is vegetarian. Learn to say “bu fang rou” and if you are strict about it, watch them cook or prepare your own food.
  8. In your adventurousness, be cautious. But still, be adventurous.
  9. Okay, one not so surprising item. Chances are good you won’t run into any General Tso’s chicken or beef and broccoli or even spring rolls. Maybe in some areas but even so, it wouldn’t look the same.