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  • In reply to: HeShuwen wrote a new story, The Lesser of Two Dishes At this point in time, I had stayed in China for nearly two months. I was well aware of how far a host will go to keep their guests happy, but I was not […] View

    Yeah! I think I learned a lot about Chinese eating and hosting culture just from this one interaction with my friend. It is really interesting.

  • At this point in time, I had stayed in China for nearly two months. I was well aware of how far a host will go to keep their guests happy, but I was not prepared for what was about to happen that night. I had recently made a new friend and I had agreed to help her prepare for an English presentation that she was to give in class the next day. After working with her for a couple of hours, we were thoroughly exhausted and we reverted back to speaking in Chinese. She told me that she was very grateful that I had helped her so much and wanted to take me out to dinner in return. After declining out of politeness she insisted that we go, and so I agreed. We arrived at the restaurant, got seated quickly, and began to look over the menu. I tried saying that any of the dishes were fine with me, but she continued to press me. I still wouldn’t give in yet. Eventually, she began picking out dishes from the menu and recommending them to me. One of her choices was 辣炒嘎啦, a popular dish in Qingdao that I had tried before. It wasn’t my favorite dish but since I thought it was okay and she seemed eager to recommend it, I agreed that we should order it along with a plate of dumplings. The food came quickly and we began to eat. The dumplings seemed to disappear much faster than the 嘎啦, but I did not really pay much attention. She told me that her mother cooked this dish all the time, but usually hers was better tasting than the plate at the restaurant. When we were more than halfway done with our meal, she began to ask more questions about the dishes until she asked how often I eat this type of dish in America. I told her that I almost never do. maybe once a year or so. Her expression changed and she asked me if I liked it or not. I did not want to be dishonest and I thought we were close enough friends, so I told her that actually I didn’t really like it very much. I said that I thought it would be a good choice since she liked it. She was shocked. She said that actually she didn’t like it at all and only got it for me. Suddenly smiles stretched across our faces before we both erupted with laughter. In between fits of laughter, she said that even when her mom cooks it, she refuses to touch the dish. We had both spent the night picking at and eating a dish neither of us particularly cared for simply out of politeness! The mood was lighter for the rest of the night and we both left the restaurant together much closer than we had been upon entering it. I learned a lot about Chinese host and eating culture that night. These lessons made that night truly unforgettable.

    • Yeah! I think I learned a lot about Chinese eating and hosting culture just from this one interaction with my friend. It is really interesting.

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