I was eating lunch with my Chinese host family today and I suddenly realized how different eating is in China. I began to analyze all of the differences and found that there are many things that could be considered quite strange in America.
Chinese food is almost always served 'family style.' At larger tables a lazy Susan will slowly revolve and anyone can take what they want. At my host family's table, however, this is not needed. People will reach across the table with their own chopsticks and take a little of what they want.
The utensils are typically chopsticks and a bowl. Bones or other inedible parts of the food can either be thrown on the ground (outside restaurants), put directly on the table (as in my home), or placed on the extra small plate next to your bowl (as inside restaurants). The bowl has three basic positions: on the table, in your hand, and against your lips. Eating with a bowl to your lips is done for soup and the last bit of rice in the bowl. In addition to having the bowl at your mouth, chopsticks sweep into the bowl and pull out the last grains of rice.
If the rice comes at the beginning of the meal it becomes saturated with the flavors and oils of the foods eaten throughout the meal. This allows it to take on other flavors. When eating so much rice, this is preferable because I will typically eat rice with chopped pickled green beans to give it more flavor (one can only eat so many pickled green beans).