Soup’s On

Here is a universal truth: When it’s cold outside, nothing warms you up like a bowl of hot soup!

A street vendor sells hot soup on a neighborhood sidewalk.

A street vendor sells hot soup on a neighborhood sidewalk.


In China, you can find many delicious types of soups—yes, even from the street vendors. Fish and chicken soups are common. And don’t be surprised if something is looking back at you from the soup pot.

It is common for the heads of fish or chicken to be included in the soup. Once I had fish head soup with some of my students, and one of the students asked me if he could eat the fish head. I wasn’t sure how he was going to do it, so for me it was educational to watch how he used his chopsticks and removed the fish’s head from the pot. While never putting the fish’s head down, he was able to remove everything he wanted to eat. I was impressed with his chopstick skills and how well he cleaned the fish.

Now, if hearing someone sucking a fish’s head is going to bother you, perhaps you should excuse yourself from the table before that begins.

In some areas,street vendors may set out a few short tables with a couple of chairs around them for customers to sit and enjoy their food. Some of the chairs are collapsible, so you’ll want to be careful how you sit on them.


To learn more about China, check out Lessons from China: A Westerner’s Cultural Education!

How to Get Lessons from China

Lessons from China: A Westerner’s Cultural Education now available as a paperback and as an e-book on Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s Nook!

You can buy Lessons from China on, (to donate a portion of the sale to Global Partners in Life),, and in Barnes and Noble stores and a variety of other bookstores and online booksellers.

Note: If you don’t see the book on the shelf at your local bookstore, just ask the sales clerk to order it for you. The booksellers are eager to accommodate you, whenever possible. Independent bookstores can order the book through Bookmasters.