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Do you buy food for one meal or one week? Newly-discovered standard will help you distinguish northern Chinese from southern Chinese

By Hu Ximeng (People's Daily Online)    17:01, September 01, 2017

Northen way of food shopping vs. Southern way of food shopping (file photo)

Thanks to the vast territory and huge population of China, diverse living habits with geographical features have been an ever-lasting topic among Chinese. Unsurprisingly, netizens went wild again as they recently discovered another striking difference between the country’s northerners and southerners: the way they shop for food.

According to netizens from southern China, they usually buy what they need for just one or two meals. “It is quite normal for us to buy one or half of a Chinese cabbage at a time,” said a netizen. However, one is very likely to be scorned if he does this in the north. “We love to stock up on groceries. Buying 25 kilograms of Chinese cabbage is the norm,” said a netizen from the north.

Moreover, in the south, it is said that winter melon is always sold in chunks, “One chunk is enough for two meals!” one said. While in the north, it is simply not possible. “Of course we buy a whole one, otherwise nobody is willing to buy the other half,” said a northern Chinese.

Northen way of food shopping vs. Southern way of food shopping (file photo)

Because of this, cultural shocks are certainly inevitable. “Yesterday, I was going to buy just two celery stalks, but the stall owner was unwilling to weigh them and gave them to me for free,” said a Cantonese netizen who just moved to northeast China. “Vegetable vendors in Chengdu not only let me buy a very small amount of potatoes and lettuce, but even offered to help me peel them. I was so overwhelmed!” said a netizen from the north.

Experts say that the difference is due to the varied climate. Groceries can be stored for a relatively long time in the north as it is usually cold and dry there. Nevertheless, the comparatively hot and humid weather in the south compels southern Chinese to buy just enough for one meal or one day, otherwise it might go bad.

Apart from distinct ways of grocery shopping, other well-known north-south differences in China include the flavor of jellied tofu (northerners prefer a salty taste while southerners like it sweet), the way to give directions (northerners prefer say “go east/west,” but southerners usually say “go left/right”), and how people spend the cold winter days (northerners use central heating while southerners can only “mentally” warm themselves, as central heating is not available).

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Hu Ximeng, Bianji)

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