Readers’ Blog

Misconceptions about foreign food.

Popularity 8Viewed 9641 times 2014-1-16 04:13 |Personal category:American Culture|System category:Life| food, Chinese, American, misconceptions, cultural differences

I have heard that many Chinese people think all Western food is the same. However, we Westerners can tell the difference between Italian, French, British, and other kinds of food fairly easily. Even in different parts of America certain dishes are more common. For example, Grits are popular in the southeast, but not many other places. I have heard that New England also has it's own unique food items. Certainly, these differences are not always as significant as the differences between Chinese regional cuisines. 
Americans also have misconceptions about Chinese food. Many think that fortune cookies are actually from China, since most Chinese restaurants here serve them and other types of restaurants don't. I think lot of Americans do not realize that China has different regional cuisines. I'm not sure why that is. I believe I have heard that at first many Chinese immigrants to America were from the southern area, so maybe there were more restaurants serving food from there? Also, although I have been to many Chinese restaurants in America I am not always sure if they specialize in a particular cuisine. Maybe some make foods from different areas?
Why do you think these misconceptions about foreign food exist?

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)


Passing

Eggs

Flowers
2

Shake hands

Ray

Friends who just made a statement (2 Person)

Like 0 Share
8.03K

Report

Comment Comment (13 comments)

Reply Report voice_cd 2014-1-16 09:41
Your article has been recommended to the homepage. Thanks for sharing here !
Reply Report Cdogg 2014-1-16 10:17
I believe these misconceptions exist due to the fact that Chinese people call any one from outside of China westerners. Therefore their food must all be the same. If there were northerners, sotherners and easterners I believe the misconception would almost vanish
Reply Report snowipine 2014-1-16 10:48
Have no experience on others' food stuff is the source of misconception. I think.
But this misconception will fade away in the long run
Reply Report SoCalChevy 2014-1-16 12:37
voice_cd: Your article has been recommended to the homepage. Thanks for sharing here !
Thanks!
Reply Report SoCalChevy 2014-1-16 12:37
voice_cd: Your article has been recommended to the homepage. Thanks for sharing here !
Thanks!
Reply Report SoCalChevy 2014-1-16 12:38
voice_cd: Your article has been recommended to the homepage. Thanks for sharing here !
Thanks
Reply Report Ted180 2014-1-16 19:12
Naturally, the initial Chinese immigrants to America were from the coastal regions and predominantly the south. So the original Chinese food in American was "Cantonese". But, now, other Chinese cuisines (with tremendous variety) are widely available over here.
Reply Report Ted180 2014-1-16 19:12
Naturally, the initial Chinese immigrants to America were from the coastal regions and predominantly the south. So the original Chinese food in American was "Cantonese". But, now, other Chinese cuisines (with tremendous variety) are widely available over here.
Reply Report Dr.Bill.Shen 2014-1-16 20:44
Ted180: Naturally, the initial Chinese immigrants to America were from the coastal regions and predominantly the south. So the original Chinese food in Americ ...
The Chinese food in the states are somehow customized to gain porpolar acceptance. If you walk in a place with a name suggestive of hunan dishes, you won't get dishes as spicy as those in China. If too alarmingly spicy, local FDA officers might show up at the door. Another important difference is the quality next to those sizzling pans in the kitchen. I used to be a cook in an alleged Chinese resturant owned by philippinos when I was studying in providence of Rhode Island, even though I had never cooked anything for anyone else before in China. One day after producing some giant chicken fingers with chicken legs inside, instead of supposed boneless chicken breast, I certainly sparked outrage from one of customers who almost had to have his denture replaced. I was thrown out without pay.
Reply Report thedrunkingpig 2014-1-16 21:00
because all the chinese ever see is McDonalds, KFC, spaghetti, and steak. most wont try different countries food as (as ive been told by many people of all ages) "its not chinese" or "it doesnt have rice with every meal"
Reply Report huaren2323 2014-1-17 09:47
Whether it is from a (Mainland) Chinese perspective or from Europeans or North American perspective, it all depends on the exposure. Dr. Bill Shen & Ted are right in saying that the trucker stop " Mr. Wong" Chinese restaurant are westernized fusion of Chinese cooking that appealed to the local palate. There is no such thing as Chop Suey or two toned Fried Rice in China. Likewise, Greek salad in China may not have feta cheese but a less pungent substitute.
There is also a question of availability of ingredient like proscuito ham, smoked meat, different assortment of herbs and cheese . On the other hand, Chinese rotten tofu, or peanut laced Guizhou spices are a no no in current FDA lists.
in addition to that, you have also the fusion of East European with west European that I see in Canada where peirogi are filled with bacon and other Prairie delights not typical in Ukraine. Then you have the pizza in Croatia that is serve is thinner crust heavy on local vegetable & cheese rather than meat as their Muslim brethrens cannot take pork
I think " misunderstanding may not be the case but jsut a matter of exposure. The best way is to .go into cultural melting pots places like New York, London, Paris, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Toronto, Montreal and you have a summation of world cuisine synthesized in a small area.
As if it is not confusing enough then as ted said so, there are regional differences like red sauce for southern Italian (Sicily) and white sauce as in northern Italian (Milan).
I am not an expert and hope that Pauline Loh or Lexalee can weigh in to comment.
Reply Report cmknight 2014-1-22 13:28
One big reason why Chinese don't eat much foreign food is because they don't know what's in it. It's been my experience when cooking for Chinese friends and family, that, if they don't know the exact contents of what is in that potato salad, or barbecue sauce, or even filet mignon ... they will either sit there and pick at it, eating only the pieces they recognize, or not bother eating it at all, saying things like, "I don't like it!", without ever having tried it.

Of course, if you urge them, they will try a little bit, and find that they like it, which then opens up a whole new ballgame of you having to cook that same dish every time they see you (LOL), or they will try to "Sinocize" the meal by adding hot spices, or even noodles. One Chinese cook I knew was taught by some Russian students how to make borsch. His customers wouldn't eat it because they'd never had beets before, and didn't know what they were. What did he do? Added an entire bottle of Tabasco Sauce, and called it Sichuan Soup. This stuff was so spicy, it could dissolve chrome.

Then, there are those who, bless them, will try to make the dishes on their own, totally botching the meal in the process, and convincing themselves that "only foreigners can make Western food".

When it comes to foods, there are many things that both Chinese and foreigners can teach each other. It is my philosophy that food bridges cultures, and that we can learn a lot, just by learning how to cook each others' dishes properly.

I think that Chinese need to learn how to diversify and experiment in the kitchen, as well as at the dining table. Just because you don't know what's in it, doesn't mean it isn't healthy or delicious. Expand your palate.
Reply Report SoCalChevy 2014-1-30 12:22
Wow, this has 2888 views and a stick popularity of 8. Isn't that pretty lucky in China?

facelist doodle Doodle board

You need to login to comment Login | register


Album

Recent comments

  • Pumpkin Patch 2016-3-12 11:42

    Back to 80s, pumpkin is one of my  family's staple vegetable.

  • Poetry 2016-3-12 11:36

    Traveling a lot, thinking a bit and then taking some reading, what a joyous lifestyle! When here is free time for free disposal, stringing together the fragmental memories into pieces of writing works, share them with like-minded, it's kind of another sort of  luxurious treatment.

Star blogger

Anming

4124

views

Maierwei

2603

views

财神

4580

views

Most Viewed

Most commented

BACK TO THE TOP
Contact us:Tel: (86)010-84883548, Email: blog@chinadaily.com.cn
Blog announcement:| We reserve the right, and you authorize us, to use content, including words, photos and videos, which you provide to our blog
platform, for non-profit purposes on China Daily media, comprising newspaper, website, iPad and other social media accounts.