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dalizee

I don't like Chinese food, what should I do.

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dalizee

Hi!

I'm a Romanian girl in second year of college. I study Chinese. When i go out with my classmates, they all want to go to Chinese restaurants. I ate a few times Chinese food, but i didn't like it so much. All my classmates say that if you study this language, you have to eat their food and even to like it. But i can't. Romanian food is different. The only thing i like is called "Jiaozi".. I guess... Some pastas with meat. They are really good. But the other things.. not so much.

And i have some questions: why is such an important thing if you eat or not Chinese food? Will Chinese people be molested when i'll say i don't like their food? If i'll go in China and i won't be able to eat the traditional food, will i find something like McDonals or KFC there? I mean something european or american.

Thanks!

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gougou

One of the first questions any random acquaintance (for example a taxi driver) will ask you is whether you "can get used to the food", and of course they would be delighted to hear a positive answer. However, if you don't like it, I don't think there is anything wrong with it, and it sure should not discourage you in your quest to study Chinese!

And yes, there are plenty of McDonald's and KFC's all over China, so that would not be a problem. The big cities also have plenty of Western restaurants.

PS: Give Xinjiang food a try, it is also pasta with meat and sauce; I think you would like it!

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yonglin

If you were in China, I'd be seriously worried. However, since I get the impression that you are in Romania, I'm not worried at all. Idon't have a clue what Chinese food in Romania is like, but if it's anything like in the rest of Europe, then don't make a judgement on Chinese food from that. In most European countries, "Chinese" food is very sweet, sticky, tend to contain too much MSG, dark soy sauce, broccoli and canned bambo shoots. It's just natural not to like this kind of food, and I personally have a hard time understanding those who do.

In China, food is extremely diverse. There is in fact no such thing as "Chinese food", but just a great variety of different foods: Cantonese food, Sichuanese food, Hunanese food, etc. etc. Most restaurants specialize in the cuisine of a particular region (e.g., they might sell food from Shandong, Hunan, or Guangdong...), or in a particular type of food (e.g., Sichuanese hotpot or Shanghai buns, Shaanxi noodles...) You could have very spicy food, or very mild/bland (清淡) food, and virtually everything in between. Apart from rice and noodles, there are many kind of steamed/fried dumplings, steamed buns and baked breads. Some are filled with meat or honey or something else tasty, and some of them are really similar to Western food.

As gougou mentioned, Xinjiang food is very different from most Chinese food, but also very good. It's pretty similar to the cuisine of Central Asia, and also reminds a bit of Turkish food (Uyghur people is a Turkic people). Apart from noodles in tomato based sauce (usually with lamb meat), you usually find charcoal-grilled cumin-powdered skewers (kebabs) with very nice and juicy lamb meat, and a baked and crispy flat bread (nan). (In Xinjiang they even make more rounded, bagel-shaped breads but that's pretty rare in China proper...) Uyghur people also have very good and thick yoghurt as well as cold salads (made from cucumber, etc)... Guh... I'm getting so hungry now. :cry:

Of course you'll be able to find Western food and fast-food in any reasonably sized Chinese city, but always eating in such places will not only wear a whole in your wallet (a meal at McDonald's might be 20 RMB, whilst a Chinese meal in a non-fancy restaurant might be 3-5 RMB), but also mean that you miss out on a lot of stuff.

Overall... I hope you get the point: Chinese food in China is just very, very different from Chinese food abroad. There will always be things you try and realize you don't like, but that's just life (and means you can buy some street food instead!). However, I guarantee that you'll also find some things you'd never have imagined you'd find in China, and a few things that you just really, really like and will miss a lot on returning home. (I'm yet to find a single 煎饼 vendor in the west...)

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Luobot

Plan A:

To be in China and not partake of the banquet happening all around you is not so much to insult the Chinese as to deprive yourself of enjoying the greatest culinary richness to ever grace this planet. But I assure you that once in China, your taste buds will mature and open like the petals of a flower to the sunshine. No longer will you wallow in greasy KFC chicken wings or double-figure-busting-cheeseburgers from MacDonalds. A thousand new dishes from all the regions of China will tempt you and win you over. When you return to Rumania you’ll realize why it was that you didn’t like Chinese food there, it being a pale imitation of the real thing. Remember that for thousands of years, while the rest of the world was dining like peasants, the Emperors of China had dishes created that were intended only to be tasted by those who held the Heavenly Mandate. Today, you too have the opportunity to live like an Empress at the dinner table. Don’t make the supersized mistake of passing that opportunity by.

Plan B:

If all else fails, then China has some pretty good pasta. They should. They invented the stuff.

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A life of study

You don't "have to" like the food... Do you have to like burgers to study English? You can find lots of semi-Western food in the cities now!

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889

There are certain conventions in China, just as there no doubt are in Romania.

No matter how badly you mangle the language, for example, you'll always be complimented: "Why, you speak better than we do!"

Similarly, when asked how you like Chinese food -- and you will be asked -- convention demands a positive if not downright enthusiastic response. 真好吃! Zhen hao chi! should do the job.

Learning a language means learning a culture as well. And food -- not so much the food itself but the social interactions associated with eating -- is a big part of Chinese culture. Indeed, you can never overestimate the importance of eating in Chinese culture.

So my suggestion would be to hoist those chopsticks and dig in with your Chinese friends.

And be very grateful you're not studying Japanese.

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johnmck

I'm from the UK and I live in France. In France the Chinese restaurants are very good but is most places in the UK they are pretty bad. Last time I ate Chinese in the UK I didn't like it. There are a lot more Chinese people living in France and hence the restaurants are better.

Then again, the food you eat in China is different to that you find in Chinese restaurants in France. Visiting a Chinese restaurant in Europe is like visiting a "European restaurant" in China (if that exists). The selection of dishes would be so small in comparison to the huge variety of different European cuisines that it would be impossible to decide from visiting a "European restaurant" that you dislike "European" food.

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DrWatson

Don't feel bad at all. I can't count how many times I've heard Taiwanese and Japanese people complain about how they can't eat food in North America and how they like their food better. I never took offense as I wasn't the one cooking. Now if I had invited them to my house and prepared a meal for them...

However, cultures are different, so maybe you might just have to try and find some dishes that you like. Perhaps some vegetarian dishes or something from Northern China? A lot of the Chinese food in Europe and North America tends to be Canton-style or Shanghai-style.

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dalizee

Thanks a lot. Well, now i fell bad. Because i know how is to cook something that you think is very hao chi de and to give it to someone to eat it and he sais it's not good.

Yonglin, you are right! Here, the Chinese food is very very very sweet and sticky, with dark sauce. And that's something i really don't like. I'm used with spicy food. And i didn't find it it the Chinese restaurants.

Last time when i was in a Chinese restaurant (there was really full of Chinese people, so i thought food would be great) i ate chicken with peanuts and a souce like sweet ketchup. I adored how the chicken was cooked. I didn't really like the combination of peanuts with meat, but finally i ate it. About the sauce: at first i sad "ok... this is ketchup. It's sweet, but even at home i sometimes eat it, so why shouldn't i eat it now?" And i tried to eat it, but after a few minutes, i realized it was too sweet for me. Ok, it's ok when you taste it, but not when you really want to finish what you have in your plate. Too sweet. That's what i don't like: sweet food. Because i'm not used with meat being sweet.

On the Xin Nian day i was with my classmates to a Chinese firend's place. And he invited us to dinner. Wow! The whole table was full of food and it all looked great! But i only liked Jiaozi and some chicken wings. Yummy! I saw a good looking fish, but when i wanted to eat, i felt some honeybee. Honeybee with fish? That wasn't for me! Oh, something i liked: some cow meat with a great sauce and with some green peper. That was really great.

Oh, and another thing at that restaurant: it was really good. Here is called something like "chicken on hot kitchen range". And red meat (cow) on the same hot range. I also tried bamboo. It was ok, but only for just a bite. But i forgot his taste.

Again... what i didn't like: the soup. But that's because even at my place i never eat soups. I don't like them. Imagine... i don't like the soup that my parents cook, how would i love a soup cooked in a restaurant? It's just a problem of mine... That's all. Maybe it's good, but only the idea of "soup"... And another thing... Here is called something like "tree trunck". I heard they were mushrooms. Another thing that i don't like since i was a little child and i never taste them.

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JustinP
All my classmates say that if you study this language, you have to eat their food and even to like it.

I really don't feel you would have to (pretend to) like the food or to have to eat them. However, there are different flavor of Chinese foods and they can taste different, so don't jump into conclusion that you don't like "Chinese food."

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dalizee

Yeah, you're right! "I don't like Chinese food" includes everything. And i didn't taste everything yet. Maybe i'll find something good, like i've already did with some of them.

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dpotter

Just a point about English...I think 'molested' is probably the wrong word to use because it has strange sexual overtones. :evil: Try substituting 'offended' instead. :lol:

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wschao
I'm from the UK and I live in France. In France the Chinese restaurants are very good but is most places in the UK they are pretty bad. Last time I ate Chinese in the UK I didn't like it. There are a lot more Chinese people living in France and hence the restaurants are better.

Chinese food in UK is just insulting:tong

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accountant

After browsing the forums, I realise some learn Chinese with a fastidious disdain of Chinese people and culture. Accordingly, you don’t have to like Chinese food for learning the language. Chinese food overseas actually receives mixed views from Chinese, critical and admiring. Say a Hongkong girl told me she found the food to be heavenly delicious in London’s Chinatown. Which is contrary to the opinions above. I read an article written by a food critic who expressed his disappointment with France’s Chinese food. Worth of notice, he pointed out those running the Chinese restaurants in France were of Wenzhou origin, and weren’t professionally trained cooks, e.g. peasant-turned-cook. However there is a possibility of him not having tried the Teochew cuisine in Paris’s 13th district.

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renzhe

My girlfriend spent a few days in London and always ate in London's Chinatown and was talking for months about how good the food there was.

Personally, I think that it really depends on whether the restaurant is a little family-run place or if they have a trained cook, get the proper ingredients, follow the traditional recipes, etc. With little family-run places, it's usually a gamble, and most of them produce something for mass consumption by the local population. With fancier restaurants, you'll often get more typical food.

Here in Germany, restaurants that do proper Chinese food are few and far inbetween, and you need to have a Chinese person recommend it. So I also recommend trying different restaurants with different cuisine and maybe you'll find something you like. The food from the south is generally sweet, the food from the north is more often salty. In the north they will also eat potatoes, Sichuan food is spicy, etc. Lots of stuff to try.

Personally, I like virtually all of it :mrgreen:

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A life of study

I find Chinese food very unvaried. There are many dishes, many of which taste the same. It is all on the same theme. The best of the lot: baozi if you can get nice ones.

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skylee
I find Chinese food very unvaried. There are many dishes, many of which taste the same. It is all on the same theme. The best of the lot: baozi if you can get nice ones.

Interesting view.

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imron
I find Chinese food very unvaried.
Perhaps you need to learn the Chinese for a few more dish names. :wink: either that, or start going to more than just the same restaurant each time.

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adrianlondon

Depends where one lives. In London I'm lucky in that there are some great (albeit mainly Cantonese) restaurants/cafes in Chinatown. It's also possible to have really great yumcha/dimsum.

As an aside, the new hotpot place on Shaftsbury Avenue does a fantastic hotpot, complete with Sichuan pepper (花椒). I love it, although it's obviously nowhere near as cheap as Beijing. If I factor in the cost of the flight, though, it's a bargain ;)

In other towns in the UK, the food can be totally rubbish, with every dish on the menu tasting the same. Not because it is the same, but because they can't cook. Crappy Indian restaurants have the same issue.

Paris' 13th Arr. has some great restaurants but they focus on Vietnamese/Laotion food (due to France's colonian influence).

Germany ... I've actually found a great place in Stuttgart. I've also found a place with great waitresses happy to let me practice my (fading rapidly ...) Mandarin, but the whole family came over from Southern China and can't cook for squat ;)

Edit : Did I mention that some places were great? Never post tipsy at 2:30am if you want a decent amount of adjectives.

Edited by adrianlondon
Great Post

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johnmck
My girlfriend spent a few days in London and always ate in London's Chinatown and was talking for months about how good the food there was.

About 10 years ago I lived in London for two years. London's Chinatown (for those who have never been it is in reality only a very short street) is the exception, the food really is excellent. While I suspect that one can find good Chinese restaurants elsewhere in the UK, I never have.

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