My father has mastered Chinese, well I take that back, he knows food words in Chinese. I am sure it has something to do with the fact that he enjoys good food, especially Sichuanese food. When I was waiting in line for my visa a Chinese woman asked where I was going. When I told her Chengdu, she asked, 'so you like spicy food then'. Known for it's spicy food and hot pot (a spicy/oily pot in a carved out table where one puts all sorts of raw foods ranging from duck, lotus, tofu and mushrooms and then once cooked you dip it in oily garlic) Sichuan is a good place for my father to be gastronomically speaking. I tried to be adventurous, but out of politeness I was forced to eat something like a foot (see photo second from bottom) crunchy and slimy. After eating said foot, my new 'try' was strictly vegetarian. They had many different types of mushrooms which I really enjoyed. The black pot to the right in the first photo had amazing mushrooms in a sweet smokey sauce.
My father had other people order for us. Chinese people never want you to go hungry, always try and show face by treating you to many dishes, so they over order, leaving you stuffed!
In Hong Kong we ate a lot of dim sum which is one of my favorite types of food. There was such a drastic change from this to the food of Chengdu, though I was familiar with the dim sum variety. When we ate dim sum it was a slow process, an experience and there were numerous fish dishes fresh from the sea.
I think chopsticks might contribute to a thinner Chinese population. I realized I eat slower with them and all of that oil sort of drips off the food when picked up with a chopstick. All we ate with marveled at my ease with chopsticks. I felt proud....and full.
PS On a fruit platter they always have tomatoes and people eat them with their watermelon.