Trying to Understand The Reasons Why Some Foreigners Hate Chinese Food

Trying to Understand The Reasons Why Some Foreigners Hate Chinese Food
Oct 10, 2013 Translated by eChinacities.com

Editor’s Note: Chinese food is well-known and beloved all over the world, but often it is the boring dishes that everyone has heard of. What Chinese people consider high cuisine, the rest of the world shys away from, and often not quietly. This article was translated from a piece on ifeng. The reporter tried to uncover the reasons why so many foreigners recoil at foods Chinese people relish. Do you agree with his findings?

It’s explained to us that foreigners love Chinese food; it’s just that sometimes we’re afraid of it.
Chicken feet, pig trotters, and internal organs are all beloved delicacies of the Chinese people, but many foreigners recoil from them. A netizen named “North American Brother Cui” has complained that ever since he married a Chinese woman, these Chinese delicacies have become his “nightmare”. This reporter has arranged interviews with netizens from all over to try and understand the reasons why some foreigners don’t like local Chinese food.

Looking back at the next bite

“North American Brother Cui” said, “I can understand if Chinese people love to eat meat, but chicken feet, duckbills, and sow ear… where is the meat in these foods? The family of my wife chows down on these foods with no problem while I look on with astonishment! I like to eat fish, but can’t bear to eat fish heads because I’m scared I will look at my meal in the eye. I don’t want my food to look back at me”

According to one foreigner, the experience of watching a Chinese person eat chicken feet for the first time was so revolting that it induced vomiting, because the sight of a chicken foot reminds them of a human hand. Roast chicken is a favorite in Britain, but the feet are not a part of the meal. Every year several million pairs of chicken feet are thrown into the garbage by the British public.

Netizen “@Travelling in Dreamland Amusement Park” said, “On the way to the airport, I bumped into a German woman and spoke with her for 30 minutes during the journey. She abruptly asked me, ‘Do Chinese people really eat chicken feet?’ I reckon that this question has been on her mind for a long time, and now she finally has a chance to ask it to a Chinese person. I answered yes, and that this was especially the case for young women who would eat them as easily as junk food while watching TV or reading magazines. As I was talking, her face told me she was skeptical.”

Bones, shrugs n’ disharmony

“Asian carp” is how Americans collectively describe the different species of black carp, grass carp, flower carp, silver carp and bighead carp. They like to eat fish that don’t have many bones such as salmon and cod and don’t like to eat fish with many bones like “Asian carp”. Angelina, a woman married to a US citizen said, “Going out to eat with my husband is always a pain; if it has bones, he won’t like it. He also doesn’t like it when I prepare an entire fish for him; the reasoning behind that is that he doesn’t like fish bones; he thinks that food should be able to be eaten straight off the plate.”

Don’t lose your head over this

These “head” foods including chicken heads, fish heads and rabbit heads that some Chinese find very appetizing despite their “heavy tastes” are the same foods that foreigners completely don’t want to eat, often completely rejecting any food that has a head attached. The head is seen as dirty and kind of terrifying.

Dishes stewed with innards such as pig liver, duck blood, cow brain, and anything else made of intestines and blood are also food that foreigners will not eat. They feel that these animal parts are not clean and unfit for consumption.

An Austrian post-doctorate that works with “@Cheng cici” states that he loves most Chinese food, but detests eating blood. “Once, we were saying how ‘duck blood is much better to eat than pig blood’. And then he replied, ‘Despite my thirty years of existence, this is the first time that anyone has ever told me that one kind of blood is better than another kind of blood…’”

“Neither authentic nor local”

A string of street eateries in Wangfujing, Beijing is the site of novel curiosities or fear for many foreigners. Here, one can find skewers of roast sparrows, fried cicadas, fried silkworms, whole snakes prepared in a variety of fashions, fried grasshoppers, and fried starfish…in fact, just about anything you can think of can be found here. Foreign tourists flock here to look at and try some of the ‘disgusting’ things that Chinese people eat.

However, many Chinese think that this kind of Chinese food does not properly represent the mainstream tastes of the general public. As one person said, “there aren’t many Chinese who wouldn’t eat this kind of food…It doesn’t matter from the type of dish or kind of flavor, this string of street eateries is neither authentic nor local.” They went on to suggest that tourists should avoid coming to this street.

“Red burned lion head”

Even when dealing with Chinese food that is praised by almost everyone, like Peking Duck or Kong Pao chicken, foreigners aren’t happy, complaining that many Chinese restaurants only provide menus solely written in Chinese. Either they must blindly choose or must carefully decide by scrutinizing the pictures in the menu and then gesture to the waiter as to what they want. Even if there is an English menu, the translation will often make little sense. For example, “stewed pork meat balls in braised soy sauce” literally translated into English becomes “Red Burned Lion Head”. Who would want to eat that?

Chinese food “low class”

Bing Qing, a special food columnist who focuses on food in the USA states that the presentation, environment and service provided by Chinese restaurants are problematic. Outside of China, Chinese food is considered to be “low-class”. In comparison Japanese food is considered “high-class” cuisine and more likely to be awarded a Michelin star, or two, or three.

Bing says that the penetration of Chinese food culture is very strong throughout the world. For example, in Guyana Chinese stir-fried rice can be seen as part of the common eating habits of the local population. However, Chinese cuisine has fallen behind international trends. Most world cuisine is thought of as fresh, safe, nutritious and healthy, but Chinese food, in the minds of many, remains a greasy, uninventive option and definitely not very good for you.

Source: iFeng

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Keywords: disgusting Chinese food Hating Chinese food

34 Comments

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1

YangChu
comment|50740|299780

Hm Different culture , yes , bad or good taste , hm trial ... Hm ... have eat many different things here in china , actually also many times got a "surprice" like ... oh that was actually bug eggs.... But must agree that it actually tasted good... Sometimes the inner picture of a thing is enough to bring a nightmare scenarie into shape .... When this is said , then I must agree that something can be really nightmare to some people. Just watching a " Fellow foreigners " Face when he/she realice that " oh SHiiii....tttt this is actually a Brain down that hot pot " Oh it can make me laugh again and again. Yeah not that bad .. Actually tastes really good. Oh if "hotpot" fan just go for it ..... Ha ha .... Yes many exotic foods are not everyday food for chinese people either.... Most eat the more common " typically " chinese ..... Here in Shenzhen is plenty of good chinese food. Actually I have not eat any western style since i came here and I dont miss any western food at all. I think its all about the type of person and background that lead to those funny ( not for the poor " victims " ) episodes. Growing up with a knowledge of what is food and what is ugly. Now in a new world and oh.......... What to do .... """ this aint food """ ... WAAAAAHHHHH ..... UUUUH . ""Discusting "" "" How can they eat "" Noooooooooooooooooooooooooo Not to step on any people but .... What do you expect when in a foreign country with different culture. I Have choosen to live here permanent and this for shure involve being a part of the "food adventure " too. Those who complain can go visit a burger king or likewise.... You are not lost.... But if explore the unknown land in the big kitchen.... Yeah .. be prepared on a big surprice now and then .. Ha ha ... To all other who is not afraid of explore the unknown world of da big kitchen i can say " go for it " It's really great ......

Sep 12, 2014 18:14 Report Abuse

2

DrMonkey
comment|40614|264835

Duh, just one word: Chengdu <3

Oct 15, 2013 15:43 Report Abuse

3

DrMonkey
comment|40668|264835

Duh, just one word: Chengdu <3

Oct 15, 2013 15:43 Report Abuse

4

Guest849094
comment|40601|94343

Of course all the food tastes similar have you forgotten how good they are at copying?

Oct 14, 2013 13:34 Report Abuse

5

Guest2301262
comment|40564|255695

For the adventurous souls who want something highly exotic, do you know that just across the border, Vietnamese eat farm rats (not those in the cities they swear), and eating the baby rat inside female rats are their girls' best kept secret to beautiful skin? Those baby rats are expensive dishes so don't think only their poor who can't afford beef eat them. In some parts of China they also eat field rats.

Oct 12, 2013 14:12 Report Abuse

6

Guest2301262
comment|40665|255695

For the adventurous souls who want something highly exotic, do you know that just across the border, Vietnamese eat farm rats (not those in the cities they swear), and eating the baby rat inside female rats are their girls' best kept secret to beautiful skin? Those baby rats are expensive dishes so don't think only their poor who can't afford beef eat them. In some parts of China they also eat field rats.

Oct 12, 2013 14:12 Report Abuse

7

Corflamum
comment|40537|67651

I grew up in a farming village with a Mexican family in the USA. I guess growing up with "meeting my food first" it doesn't bother me now. Organ meats are especially tasty and it doesn't bother me any more than a steak because it all comes from the same knee deep in its own shit animal. But yeah, open my cupboards and you're NOT going to find vacuum packed chicken feet or a kilogram of dog in the freezer. Western foods in China are of such low quality I don't even bother, except for the occasional pizza (I am an American, after all). I'm not a liar when I say I love Chinese food, but if I could afford to import American beef steak, it would be on the menu a lot more often than 肉夹馍.

Oct 11, 2013 13:21 Report Abuse

8

Corflamum
comment|40662|67651

I grew up in a farming village with a Mexican family in the USA. I guess growing up with "meeting my food first" it doesn't bother me now. Organ meats are especially tasty and it doesn't bother me any more than a steak because it all comes from the same knee deep in its own shit animal. But yeah, open my cupboards and you're NOT going to find vacuum packed chicken feet or a kilogram of dog in the freezer. Western foods in China are of such low quality I don't even bother, except for the occasional pizza (I am an American, after all). I'm not a liar when I say I love Chinese food, but if I could afford to import American beef steak, it would be on the menu a lot more often than 肉夹馍.

Oct 11, 2013 13:21 Report Abuse

9

Anthony_lawrence
comment|40516|265587

Bug eggs, aka, silk worm larva is available in the open air markets by weight or by number. They appear a popular staple with the locals in Shenyang. I bought just 2 so me and Western girlfriend could try them. They're said to have as much protein as a small chicken egg. We steamed them a pan of vegetables as we've seen them served in most restaurants and, as we sat down to eat, the look of apprehension was apparent on my girlfriend's face. She watched as I ate mine first but girlfriend opted out.. . she refused to eat hers. Her bug egg went in garbage as I really could not learn to enjoy crunching a second time on the partially formed bug inside the egg. To me, this would be strictly "survival food."

Oct 11, 2013 00:18 Report Abuse

10

Anthony_lawrence
comment|40659|265587

Bug eggs, aka, silk worm larva is available in the open air markets by weight or by number. They appear a popular staple with the locals in Shenyang. I bought just 2 so me and Western girlfriend could try them. They're said to have as much protein as a small chicken egg. We steamed them a pan of vegetables as we've seen them served in most restaurants and, as we sat down to eat, the look of apprehension was apparent on my girlfriend's face. She watched as I ate mine first but girlfriend opted out.. . she refused to eat hers. Her bug egg went in garbage as I really could not learn to enjoy crunching a second time on the partially formed bug inside the egg. To me, this would be strictly "survival food."

Oct 11, 2013 00:18 Report Abuse

11

tomgee
comment|40505|257852

This is a very interesting article. It shows us that we tend to generalize and make a statement that seems to sound derogatory towards a group of people. Your opening sentence tries to lessen the blow by saying that 'sometimes we're afraid of it'. We should be honest but specific; for example, I could never imagine myself eating pork trotters instead of saying I am afraid of eating Chinese or German foods. I guess I do not have to remind you that pork trotters are delicacy to some Germans as well as it is to Chinese. Just say that we do not like pork trotters or chicken head or monkey brain or any kind of blood. Chinese cuisine, like cuisine from all over the world is a product of evolution and integration with cuisines from other parts of the world. I do not know the name of the spice but it is commonly used in Beijing cuisine; to me, it smells like a whiff from the armpit of a person that has been working hard for the last ten hours. I encountered this spice again when I was eating a Mid-Eastern dish. Later, I found out that the spice is the same and it seemed to have been brought from the Mid-East via silk road. Also, we must understand that China is a large countries with many ethnic groups and some are appealing and some are not to certain individual. May be I can say that most of the non-Chinese did not have the chance to try out even a half of Chinese food that they are not qualified to make judgement on Chinese food. North American Brother Cui forgets to mention that his wife also eats vegetables, fried rice, steamed rice, Chinese perogies, steamed buns, roasted pork, and roasted beef as well. I am a Chinese, I don't like chicken feet it grosses me out. But I like fish head; the Chef at my favorite Japanese restaurant whips it out for me sometimes...after I finish eating the gelatin, sweet meat, eyeballs, and whatever is in there, all you see is a neat pile of bones. I even like it better when he gives me Basashi; it's horse meat sashimi. One of my friend from California told me that if he did not know me, I might have punched me for eating horse. I hate Carp...so many bones and sometimes it tastes muddy and the meat is so soft it feels like eating mush. I like Big Mac, Wendy's Classic, Burger King, and Triple O at White Spot. I can't stand pizzas from Pizza Hut, Dominoes, and Shakey's...but my Chinese, Japanese, and SE Asian friends of mine love them. I hear none of them saying that they do not like of are afraid of American food. The only Chinese that I know of that say they do not like Western food are those who tried out their first Western food in a small crappy 'Western' Restaurants in China. So unless you've eaten at least 80% of all Chinese cuisine, please don't say that you do not like Chinese food or you are afraid of it. We don't say that about cuisine from your land.

Oct 10, 2013 20:20 Report Abuse

12

Guest2301262
comment|40529|255695

"Then bathed in oil and some clearly identifiable Brown Salt Sauce".....That is if you are in luck. Could be gutter oil, fake or questionable origin brown soya sauce (Chinese hair).

Oct 11, 2013 09:45 Report Abuse

13

Guest2301262
comment|40566|255695

....lol.....you do need a huge sense of humor to live a happy life in China. BTW, I can't remember which article I saw you writing you enjoyed teaching, in response to expat26's (I think that's him) 'you aren't respected as an EFL teacher because of the low pay' comment ---- you are a natural, born good teacher, no doubt about that. Your students are lucky.

Oct 12, 2013 14:19 Report Abuse

14

tomgee
comment|40656|257852

This is a very interesting article. It shows us that we tend to generalize and make a statement that seems to sound derogatory towards a group of people. Your opening sentence tries to lessen the blow by saying that 'sometimes we're afraid of it'. We should be honest but specific; for example, I could never imagine myself eating pork trotters instead of saying I am afraid of eating Chinese or German foods. I guess I do not have to remind you that pork trotters are delicacy to some Germans as well as it is to Chinese. Just say that we do not like pork trotters or chicken head or monkey brain or any kind of blood. Chinese cuisine, like cuisine from all over the world is a product of evolution and integration with cuisines from other parts of the world. I do not know the name of the spice but it is commonly used in Beijing cuisine; to me, it smells like a whiff from the armpit of a person that has been working hard for the last ten hours. I encountered this spice again when I was eating a Mid-Eastern dish. Later, I found out that the spice is the same and it seemed to have been brought from the Mid-East via silk road. Also, we must understand that China is a large countries with many ethnic groups and some are appealing and some are not to certain individual. May be I can say that most of the non-Chinese did not have the chance to try out even a half of Chinese food that they are not qualified to make judgement on Chinese food. North American Brother Cui forgets to mention that his wife also eats vegetables, fried rice, steamed rice, Chinese perogies, steamed buns, roasted pork, and roasted beef as well. I am a Chinese, I don't like chicken feet it grosses me out. But I like fish head; the Chef at my favorite Japanese restaurant whips it out for me sometimes...after I finish eating the gelatin, sweet meat, eyeballs, and whatever is in there, all you see is a neat pile of bones. I even like it better when he gives me Basashi; it's horse meat sashimi. One of my friend from California told me that if he did not know me, I might have punched me for eating horse. I hate Carp...so many bones and sometimes it tastes muddy and the meat is so soft it feels like eating mush. I like Big Mac, Wendy's Classic, Burger King, and Triple O at White Spot. I can't stand pizzas from Pizza Hut, Dominoes, and Shakey's...but my Chinese, Japanese, and SE Asian friends of mine love them. I hear none of them saying that they do not like of are afraid of American food. The only Chinese that I know of that say they do not like Western food are those who tried out their first Western food in a small crappy 'Western' Restaurants in China. So unless you've eaten at least 80% of all Chinese cuisine, please don't say that you do not like Chinese food or you are afraid of it. We don't say that about cuisine from your land.

Oct 10, 2013 20:20 Report Abuse

15

Guest2301262
comment|40661|255695

"Then bathed in oil and some clearly identifiable Brown Salt Sauce".....That is if you are in luck. Could be gutter oil, fake or questionable origin brown soya sauce (Chinese hair).

Oct 11, 2013 09:45 Report Abuse

16

Guest2301262
comment|40666|255695

....lol.....you do need a huge sense of humor to live a happy life in China. BTW, I can't remember which article I saw you writing you enjoyed teaching, in response to expat26's (I think that's him) 'you aren't respected as an EFL teacher because of the low pay' comment ---- you are a natural, born good teacher, no doubt about that. Your students are lucky.

Oct 12, 2013 14:19 Report Abuse

17

Sinobear
comment|40494|57378

It's not like these "delicacies" are eaten by Chinese on a regular basis, either. I've seen enough people who eat the exact same thing each and every day. What I take exception to in the article is the constant mention of "unclean." What not use the correct term for unused chicken feet, innards, entrails, etc.? We feed those parts to pigs or make dog food out of them. My wife hates paying for beef bones now to make soup after I told her that I could get all I wanted for free from a butcher back home. Each to his/her own taste.

Oct 10, 2013 14:57 Report Abuse

18

Sinobear
comment|40651|57378

It's not like these "delicacies" are eaten by Chinese on a regular basis, either. I've seen enough people who eat the exact same thing each and every day. What I take exception to in the article is the constant mention of "unclean." What not use the correct term for unused chicken feet, innards, entrails, etc.? We feed those parts to pigs or make dog food out of them. My wife hates paying for beef bones now to make soup after I told her that I could get all I wanted for free from a butcher back home. Each to his/her own taste.

Oct 10, 2013 14:57 Report Abuse

19

MSI
comment|40491|94343

I was invited to a dinner at a 'supposedly very good restaurant' and had one of the worst nightmares. Somebody ordered the whole ROAST PIGLET - it came complete with the head and eyes (sickly substituted with cherries) and feet. The other dish was a whole steamed fish with its mouth opened and exposed teeth.

Oct 10, 2013 12:45 Report Abuse

20

Guest569724
comment|40502|63302

If you ever go to a "classy" Hotpot place with Chinese people, tell them in advance that animal brains are a huge no-no for you. I've had that little surprise twice.

Oct 10, 2013 19:21 Report Abuse

21

MSI
comment|40650|94343

I was invited to a dinner at a 'supposedly very good restaurant' and had one of the worst nightmares. Somebody ordered the whole ROAST PIGLET - it came complete with the head and eyes (sickly substituted with cherries) and feet. The other dish was a whole steamed fish with its mouth opened and exposed teeth.

Oct 10, 2013 12:45 Report Abuse

22

Guest569724
comment|40655|63302

If you ever go to a "classy" Hotpot place with Chinese people, tell them in advance that animal brains are a huge no-no for you. I've had that little surprise twice.

Oct 10, 2013 19:21 Report Abuse

23

MSI
comment|40490|94343

Chinese food? The ones in UK are really good but the ones in Beijing are blegghhhh. They all taste similar I think all the cooks graduated from the same cookery class.I am also quite sure they use the same 'flavouring chemicals'. Apart from the nasty taste, they are all so(to the power of infinity) effing oily. Don't even get me started on the food safety and hygiene. Seeing those food stalls along the streets made me want to puke-and I hate the smell too!!

Oct 10, 2013 12:38 Report Abuse

24

MSI
comment|40649|94343

Chinese food? The ones in UK are really good but the ones in Beijing are blegghhhh. They all taste similar I think all the cooks graduated from the same cookery class.I am also quite sure they use the same 'flavouring chemicals'. Apart from the nasty taste, they are all so(to the power of infinity) effing oily. Don't even get me started on the food safety and hygiene. Seeing those food stalls along the streets made me want to puke-and I hate the smell too!!

Oct 10, 2013 12:38 Report Abuse

25

pepo36
comment|40477|228251

i would say i adjusted and adapted to some chinese food and just like JayKnox said i have now my safe list of food i can eat and definitely prefer them to Mcdonald's or KFC if i'm eating out examples of my safe food list are malatang or chaomian however if i eat at home i'm sticking with the western cuisine at some point i was eating BBQ with my chinese friend and he ordered the silkworm cocoons without me noticing....i stopped eating and i almost threw up so yeah it's really tough to for us to eat the same like a chinese person

Oct 10, 2013 09:24 Report Abuse