Sunday, March 08, 2009

Westerners and Chinese Food

When I worked in California several years ago, I frequented a few Chinese American restaurants. I noticed that Westerners who ate in the restaurants, more likely than not, ordered soda (soft drinks). I usually asked for tea.

Chinese food is oily, and tea is the antidote for oil. That’s why I preferred tea over soda. Tea made me feel better after I ate that dish of beef and broccoli or sweet-and-sour chicken. Westerners, while they liked Chinese food, somehow failed to see the “big picture”.

Further, Westerners usually insist on eating Chinese food with chopsticks. In Malaysia, I have seen Westerners struggling with chopsticks in Chinese restaurants, while Chinese Malaysians who sit next to them use spoons and forks.

But here is another problem. In this country, rice is often served in plates, not bowls. It is awkward to pick up rice from a plate using chopsticks. (The one exception is sticky rice.) A better way to eat is: rice comes in bowls. We hold the bowls near our mouths, and gently push the rice into our throats using the chopsticks.

Westerners try to show respect to Eastern culture, and I compliment them for doing so. Nonetheless, they don’t get it quite right.

P/S This blogger encourages Chinese Malaysians to use chopsticks.

Related post:
Chinese American Food


  1. I also prefer tea to soft drinks. Tea helps to take away the oil. Soft drinks just makes me feel bloated!

    I think the Westerners should be praised for trying to use chopsticks! I prefer to use chopsticks when eating Chinese food, but like you said, if rice is on plate, how to eat with chopsticks?

  2. i prefer tea flushes out da oil from my body :)

    im not a chopsticks person :(
    but i will try to use them when im eating at chinese restaurant

    if at homw, fork and spoon purleese :)

  3. u know wat? after staying in foreign country, i am very surprise that many foreigners know how to use chopstick.

    And the way they using is the correct way, mean the chopstick is holding with parallel style.

    Some of the Chinese, included ME are holding the wrong way, mean holding the chopstick with X style. Shame on myself!! :p

  4. foongpc
    I also prefer chopsticks :)

    It sounds like you use chopsticks for 'show' only, LOL...

    aiyo... I also not sure if I use it the right way.

  5. Lucky I know how to eat using bowl and chopsticks, because there was once when I dined at a friend's house and they only serve using bowl and chopsticks and other friends were like O.o or -_-". Haha.

  6. I like using chopsticks! :-) I think it's rather...what you call it...very "yu shiu"--delicate feminine. :-P

  7. I suck at chopsticks, but eating rice with bowl and chopsticks is a cool experience, esp during bak kut teh sessions.

  8. Interesting observation.

    One thing I am wondering is whether it is the tea, or the fact that tea is a hot drink that takes away the oil.

    Try leaving a layer of oil and hot water in a container. Do the same with oil and cold water.

    You will see that cold water and oil will cause the oil to coagulate (solidify). Imagine that in our body system. Eeww..

  9. i will never be good in using chopstick..
    and i find myself having fingers and palm cramped whenever i used chopstick a long time...

    i suck in using it =(

  10. You're right about the tea and the chopsticks, I also notice these things too.

    Actually everyone should try to use chopsticks, at least to experience something new.

  11. Good diet: use chopsticks. Not possible to load up, as you can with a fork or spoon, and stuff into mouth! A sane way to eat...

  12. day-dreamer
    Maybe your friends can use Chinese spoons.

    What do you mean by 'delicate feminine'? Men can't use chopsticks?

    Vegetarian bak kut teh?

    I sometimes drink ice tea, and it is still effective in dealing with oil.

    If your fingers are cramped, that's because you are too excited, LOL...

    I think virtually all Chinese Malaysians use chopsticks when eating noodle. Eating rice is another matter.

    Haha... a way to lose weight...

  13. yes i prefer chopstick too.. but im a soda guy.. i prefer soda than tea although i know it's not healthy :p

  14. Oh I haven't had soft drinks in the longest time! Too much sugar and unhealthy! :(

  15. I am proud to say i use chopsticks the proper way... heh

  16. nic
    I drink soda too... when I eat fast food.

    Too much sugar? Try Diet Coke.

    Wow... you're so confident.

  17. dunno how to holding chopsticks in correct normally use chopsticks wit spoon together..:P

  18. i love tea! tho i have insomnia problem.

    p/s: i am one of the guilty ones who eat on plate with fork. lol. if i eat kuayteow with chopsticks, i will struggle and take hours to complete my meal.

  19. christine
    Ah... chopsticks with spoon is good enough :)

    As noted by Peter (above), using chopsticks is a good way to lose weight. No worry :P

  20. depends on food lar...
    if eating prawns i prefer folk and spoon lor :p

  21. 迷迭香
    That I agree with you...

  22. I'm a chopstick person (barely have any fork at home), so I don't struggle with it. I do drink tea, which is part of the experience, it mixes well with Chinese food.

    Restaurants in Ottawa usually serve rice in bowls, but I hate when you have to pay for it (i.e $1 per bowl), because they are so small!

  23. zhu
    Even in Malaysia, a bowl of white rice is quite expensive. Maybe we should just order takeaway and cook rice at home :P