For my Living in Color Project, I went to the Jing Fong Restaurant in Chinatown. Jing Fong is a traditional Chinese Dim Sum restaurant. While at the restaurant, food was passed around on carts, and tea was served. Some of the foods we ate included pork buns, dumplings and spring rolls. Mr. Brooks came around and told us about the various foods and customs associated with the meal.
The tea pot isn't being pointed at anyone
The legacy of Confucianism is evident in the Dim Sum experience because of the many detailed rituals and practices involved in eating Dim Sum. One major tenet of Confucianism is Li, the set of strict rules and practices involved in everyday life. These rules are the core beliefs of Confucianism and the following of these rules is Confucius’ method of reaching an ideal society. Like a Confucian society, eating Dim Sum in the traditional manner also follows very strict rules. One example of this is the rule stating that you should never tap on your bowl with your chopsticks. Since beggars are seen tapping on their bowls, this is considered very rude to the host or chef. This would be an example of “losing face” or losing honor. In Confucian society, the idea of face is incredibly important. Losing face is seen as a terrible thing, so people do anything they can to not lose face. This is reflected in all parts of life in Confucian society, including Dim Sum. Another example of the strict rules of Li being applied in the eating of Dim Sum is the rule against the tea pot being pointed at anyone. This is considered extremely rude and a way to lose face.
Bamboo decorations, to represent the Manifest Dao
While the practices of the Dim Sum restaurant are very Confucian, the setting and various foods are very reminiscent of Taoism. First, the walls are covered in depictions of bamboo. In Daoism, an important principle is the Manifest Dao, which is nature and the world, so nature is very important and the natural state of things is the best state, hence the depictions of bamboo. The bamboo shows a connection with nature, something all Daoists try to achieve. Second, the food served shows the variety of nature in the world. Food is typically served from different parts of nature, some from the sea, some birds and some land animals. The food served also reflects Daoism because it tries to show nature in its appearance. One dish in particular has the appearance of a carrot, but is actualy made of fried dough. This is reminiscent of Daoism because it is trying to show nature, a core principle of Taoism. While this shows the Daoist idea of nature, it goes against the Confucian principle of rectification of names. In Confucianism, you are expected to call things what they are, so something appearing to be a carrot but really being made of fried dough. goes against the idea of calling something what it really is.
A dish that looks like a carrot but is really made of dough to represent nature.
A future eighth grader should choose this experience because it gives you a great insight into the practices of Li. It really lets you understand the strict rules set by Confucius on how to live your life, because you are expected to follow a set of those rules at the restaurant. You can gain a new understanding of the culture by being in such a traditional setting. In addition, since the experience took place on Chinese New Year, I got to see all of the celebrations of the holiday. I saw people doing the traditional Dragon Dance, as well as the many parades that go on to celebrate the Lunar New Year. These dances and parades are yet another example of Chinese culture in the modern day. On top of all of that, you get to eat great Dim Sum!