While cooking at home might be viewed as a healthy and affordable way to have a meal, eating out is still a significant part of people’s daily lives. Around the world, human beings visit restaurants to meet with friends or a date, have a party, or simply enjoy delicious cuisine. A restaurant’s organization, choice of meals, and etiquette are all affected by local culture and traditions, and thus, vary from country to country. The following essay will examine the similarities and differences between the restaurants in the United States and those in China.
Tipping might be the first thing that comes to mind while one thinks about the experience of eating out in US restaurants. Tipping exists in other parts of the world as a form of encouragement for employees, however, in the US it is not a mere incentive or reward, but a major contribution to a waiter’s income. The listed pay for waiters and waitresses excludes tips, and their wages are below the ordinary minimum, which means that restaurant workers have to rely on tips for a living (Wagner 36). Tipping is not mandatory, but one is expected to follow etiquette rules and pay 15 to 25 percent of the total order at most American restaurants to support waiters whose minimum wage is under $5 (Lembo). In contrast, tipping in China is still uncommon as it used to be illegal and is often seen as patronizing, so one might be frowned upon for offering tips to a waiter or waitress. Therefore, it might be worth respecting Chinese traditions and refraining from giving tips to restaurant employees there.
The prevalence of highly processed products or fast food in US restaurants is another aspect of eating out that might be worth mentioning. Fast food became popular in the United States in the 1920s and is still valued for its relatively low cost, quick service, and convenience (Smith 113). One might enjoy a great choice of sandwiches, hamburgers, pizzas, fried chicken, or soft drinks at McDonald’s or Subway in any region of the US anytime since some restaurants are open late at night. Similar to US restaurants, the Chinese food industry offers a variety of fast food items from both international and domestic restaurant chains. Before globalization processes and rapid infrastructure growth started, only the local traditional food was available to people living in various regions of China. However, since the first KFC fast food restaurant was opened in 1987 in Beijing, restaurant chains offering American-style cuisines, such as McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, and Starbucks, have become widely available and enjoyed by many Chinese residents (Zhao 120). Thus, globalization brought the previously unknown notion of fast food to China, where it was incorporated into the local diet and became widely popular.
All in all, the essay has investigated how eating out in the US and China can be both similar and different at the same time. The way the restaurant functions, the food they serve, and the etiquette they expect their visitors to follow depends on the history, tradition, and economic situation of any given country. The necessity for paying tips in US restaurants might be explained by the low wages of restaurant employees, while the no-tip policy in China is a traditional and historical outcome. The popularity of fast food as a common ground between the countries is an example of how foreign food might be assimilated and accepted even in a traditional Chinese society.
Lembo, Allie. “10 Things About American Restaurants That People from Outside the US Might Find Strange”. Insider. 2018.
Smith, Andrew F. Food in America: The Past, Present, and Future of Food, Farming, and the Family Meal. Volume 1: Food and the Environment. ABC-CLIO, 2017.
Wagner, David. Poverty and Welfare in America: Examining the Facts. ABC-CLIO, 2019.
Zhao, Jinlin (Ed.). The Hospitality and Tourism Industry in China: New Growth, Trends, and Developments. Apple Academic Press, 2019.