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suMMit

What's with the 'spicy' question?

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suMMit

It seems like every person you meet, every teacher, everybody has to ask you the question of whether or not you eat spicy food. I asked a friend of mine why he stopped learning chinese and he replied "to have conversations other than whether or not i can chi la cai ". Maybe the food topic is like the way many westerners make "weather" small talk?

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889

You know, how when people in China ask 你吃了饭没有 they're hinting they're about to suggest having dinner together.

 

So when the question is 你能不能吃辣 they're hinting they're about to invite you to a Sichuan hotpot feast.

 

Not.

 

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abcdefg
1 hour ago, suMMit said:

It seems like every person you meet, every teacher, everybody has to ask you the question of whether or not you eat spicy food. 

 

I think they see it as a measure of your acculturation, as a measure of having adapted to local ways. Of course, as you suggest, it's also a way to "break the ice" and encourage some easy, casual chat, similar talking about the weather or the traffic (the latter with taxi drivers.) 

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mackie1402

I remember when I first came to China the conversations went like this:

"How long have you been in China?"
"Two months."
"Are you used to the food here?"
"Yeah."
"Can you use chop sticks?"
"Yeah...I can."

 

I never expected I'd have the exact same conversation after 6 years...You'd think they'd assume I'm used to it all after that many years...

 

I feel like it's just an automatic response when they're talking to a foreigner, much like 'talking about the weather' in the UK. Funnily enough, I never really understood that stereotype of talking about the weather until I lived in China. If I search my WeChat conversations with my family, the weather is a daily topic. 

 

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ChTTay
6 minutes ago, mackie1402 said:

much like 'talking about the weather' in the UK. 

It is that classic gap fill conversation but, then again, in the U.K. the weather can literally change 3-4 times in a day, let alone be completely different day to day. When I was back last we had days that started cloudy, turned sunny, afternoon rain then strong winds. You really need to watch the weather. 

 

I feel like the spicy food and chopstick thing mostly comes from people who have little exposure or knowledge of foreigners. I admit it’s also ridiculous when they’ve already established you’ve lived in China for years yet still are amazed by chopstick use. If a Chinese 5 year old can do it ... then of course adults from other countries can learn how to. Equally, people don’t realise so much that western countries often have all kinds of cuisines and produce available.  There’s that stereotype that “foreigners” eat burgers and pizzas everyday. I didn’t think anyone actually believed that until I worked with some people brand new to Beijing. 

 

Actually, I hear Chinese people talk about their ability to eat spicy food as well. It usually comes up fairly naturally though. 

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道艺黄帝

Sometimes, though, I find these kinds of conversations can act as a filter for who has experience with making foreign friends, speaking to foreigners in Chinese, etc. 

 

Some of my closest Chinese friends here didn't even ask me where I was from until I brought it up later in the conversation. 

 

I remember when I used to live in the Dominican Republic, everyone would always ask me if I was from 'Nueva Yolk' because that was the only part of the US they were really familiar with. 

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ChTTay
1 hour ago, 道艺黄帝 said:

Some of my closest Chinese friends here didn't even ask me where I was from

You’re a foreigner right? From “foreign” 😉😂

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道艺黄帝

Lately I've been going with 我不是外国的,而是少数民族

Sometimes if my speaking is on point, I can actually keep it going for a few back and forths

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DavyJonesLocker

Standard questions I get an regularly (apart from the two above) are

1. Isn't western food just hamburgers and fries.

2. Are you American ("western" seems to equal America)

3. Are you an English teacher?

4. Is your wife Chinese? (They assume I must be married because of my age)

5 . Why did you come to China? (with a tone  of what's wrong with you)

6. Do you play basketball? (because I'm tall)

7. Why is you Chinese so good? (I only  said 你好)

 

Many are phrased as statements rather than questions. 

However it doesnt bother me now. People are just being friendly and their lack of knowledge and stereotyping is understandable.

 

 

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somethingfunny

Seems a fairly legitimate question to me.  Yeah, there is an undercurrent of "western food is all 面包 and 土豆 so you'll probably have difficulty with the strong flavours of Chinese cooking" but there are also a lot of Chinese people who don't eat spicy food.  When selecting where or what to eat, it's a reasonable question to ask: If yes, then hotpot; If no, then hotpot but with a 鸳鸯锅.

 

To be honest, I think I'd probably feel the same if I met a Chinese person who insisted we go to a real ale pub - in China they only drink 雪花, so how could he possibly have developed a taste for bitter?

 

There's a place near where I live which does really good spicy duck wings and every time I buy them they will, without fail, ask me if I am sure, if I have eaten them before, or if I am aware how spicy they are.

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DavyJonesLocker

Many Chinese aren't aware that other countries like India, Tunisia, Jamaica, Mexico etc all do spice dishes too.

Also many European Americans have easy access to Korean, Malaysia, Thai  food etc although a lot seems toned down for local tolerances . 

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陳德聰

Lots of Chinese people don’t like to eat spicy food. It’s just like “are you a cat person or a dog person,” except that there’s also a stereotype that “foreigners” can’t eat spicy food, so sometimes it’s because they are curious whether the stereotype is true or not.

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889

A good reminder that any film starring 葛优 is worth watching for his accent alone. 窦文涛 of 锵锵三人行 is easier to understand and serves as a better speech model certainly. But 葛优's voice has such character.

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imron

This film is worth watching because it's a great film!

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