How Chinese-y

When a cutlural difference comes up here in China, my friends and I will describe the Chinese way as being “Chinese-y” or we might say “How Chinese-y”  I am growing used to some of it and want to document it before I forget.

Not long after I had first arrived here I went to dinner with my friend Adlet of Kazakhstan.  We went to my favorite place, (a place I’d later find out he really hates) the food stalls at the Southern entrance of our school. The food stalls set up nightly and there is a wide array of food to select from.  Rats running around looking for scraps are also bountiful.

Eating at South Gate With Friends

Dinner at South Gate with Friends; Picture by Will Giles
One of the stalls will bbq your choice of food and I had a hankering for bbq-ed eggplant. Adlet (his Chinese is awesome, has been living and studying here for 5 years now) inquired  if they had eggplant.  The woman said that indeed they did have eggplant. We ordered two and then the woman responded “okay, come back tomorrow”.  Adlet explained to me that the Chinese hate to tell you they don’t have something.  I didn’t quite understand it then, and I also hadn’t realized until yesterday, how much my attitude has changed to this cultural difference.

Yesterday, I went to get coffee in one of the back alleys. It is really good deal; a whole pot of coffee for 4rmb with a bit of sweetened condensed milk at the bottom. I like it.  My plan was to finish reading my book, drink some coffee, and have some eggs.  I ordered the coffee and then had the following conversation with my server:

Me: “Have you any eggs?”
Server: “We have eggs.”
Me:  “I’d like eggs–Can I have eggs?”
Server:  “Yes, you can. Do you want eggs with rice?”
Me:  “No rice. I just want eggs.”
Server:  “Do you want eggs with noodles?”
Me:  “No I just want eggs.”
Server: “We have eggs with noodles.”
Me:  “Okay, I’ll have eggs with noodles.”
Server:  “We don’t have anymore eggs with noodles. Do you want eggs?”
Me:  “Yes, I want Eggs.”
The women points at the restaurant across the street says “eggs” and walks away.
Below is a picture of my friend Rachel (a native of Hainan).  On a different morning at a different place, I also wanted coffee and eggs.  Rachel ordered our coffee and our food.  The server returned with our coffee and told us “We have food, but don’t want to make it right now.  You can go across the street to the other restaurant get your food and bring it back here.”  We did just that.  As you can see Rachel is eating her food out of a styrofoam container also visible is our pot of coffee.

2 thoughts on “How Chinese-y

  1. Cultural differences like that are the stuff that dreams are made of for cultural documentation. It’s interesting that they would be so evasive about it, but in the end, they do seem to be fairly good sports about it.

  2. Hello~

    I came here absolutely accidentally

    I did some translation into chinese myself , a novel named 《The Paper Menagerie》 , did you know that .

    Then I look up the word ‘chinesey’ on goggle and so I enter your blog

    And read your chinese food experience haha ~

    The passage a foreigner(of course I am the foreigner for you)
    write about your own country is much more interesting than the natives’ .

    Your favorite food stalls is my favorite too , BBQ on the street ,
    and those Server your friends and you meet is the kind I’ve never met , what a pity ~

    Yes , I am a chinese from Shenzhen , not far from Hainan , happy to meet this passage on the other land of the earth , and you !

    May be there were lots of grammatical mistake ,hope you can understand me .

    In the end , even though the Oct.31 was past , still wish you happy Halloween !

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