Understanding China, One Blog at a Time

An American in China

Posts Tagged ‘Chinese food’

Funny Translations for Food in China

Posted by w_thames_the_d on March 28, 2010

Found these on the history forum. They are chinglish, or poorly translated names for Chinese food, can you figure them out?

“”Chicken without sexual life”

“Red burned lion head”

“Husband and wife’s lung slice”

“Government abuse chicken”

“Twice cooked pork”

“Bean curd made by a pock-marked woman”

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Big Restaurants Accused of using Toxic “Swill Oil”

Posted by w_thames_the_d on March 22, 2010

Remember the toxic oil used in China, well now , just as with the toxic milk, the story just grows and grows. From the below we see that some “high dollar” Chinese restaurants are involved.  Actually I would be more surprised if they hadnt been involved.


SOME big hotels and restaurants are accused of being involved – perhaps inadvertently – in a China-wide scandal involving the recycling of filthy kitchen waste to produce so-called swill oil for human consumption.

The story first came to light late last week when it was revealed that the use of swill oil was rampant at roadside restaurants and that 2 to 3 million tons of drain and gutter grease may be recycled annually to produce the illegal substance.

Now the head of a biodiesel fuel processer in Wuhan, capital of central China’s Hubei Province, is saying that well-known hotels and restaurants are exacerbating the problem by supplying recyclers with questionable qualifications. Zeng Wei, the Wuhan executive, said some big hotels and restaurants had deals with waste-oil recyclers who paid about

50,000 yuan (US$7,324) each per year for their kitchen gunk.

These hotels and restaurants sold the food waste to regular buyers, Zeng told Xinhua news agency yesterday. According to Zeng, oil recyclers usually hire migrant workers to pick up grease from kitchen drains and collect food waste from connected restaurants every day.

Zeng said part of this waste became pig food, also an illegal practice.
The rest of the gunk was used to extract swill oil for resale to unscrupulous restaurants and food markets, Zeng said.

Posted in China Fact, Cultural oddities, Food, Let me educate you..., News From China- Whats hot | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Old Oil Used- 1 in Every 10 Meals; Cancerous Meals in China

Posted by w_thames_the_d on March 18, 2010

Chinese will do anything to save a buck, Here is another example, the government has inspected Chinese restaurants and found that 1 in 10 restaurants uses dirty cooking oil. I have often heard that if you step into the kitchen of a Chinese restaurant, you will never return. The most dangerous thing, however is that the re-processed oil has a cancer causing toxin aflatoxin.


WUHAN: Immediately after a leading food expert revealed that one in every 10 meals in the country may be cooked with dirty oil, the State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) on Thursday issued an emergency notice to restaurants nationwide warning them against recycling oil.

Food service providers will be punished if they use illegal cooking oil or oil of an unknown origin. In severe cases, their licenses could be revoked, the notice said.

He Dongping, a food science professor at the Wuhan Polytechnic University (WHPU), told the China Youth Daily on Thursday that people in China consume “about 2 to 3 million tons” of illegal cooking oil every year.

“And the Chinese people’s annual oil consumption is about 22.5 million tons, which means a ratio of 1:10,” he told the newspaper.

The “illegal cooking oil” is usually made from discarded kitchen waste that has been refined, the report said, adding that the oil, which contains a highly toxic and carcinogenic substance called “aflatoxin”, can cause cancer.

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Chinese Food

Posted by w_thames_the_d on January 6, 2010

Doen’t look that good actually. But in general, Chinese food, along with Mexican have to be the best food in the world!!

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Bu hao Bullshit- Eating in a Mexican Restaurant in China

Posted by w_thames_the_d on January 3, 2010

New Years night we went to a Mexican joint, after all we are in China so why not enjoy the best it has to offer-by going Mexican.Actually we were going to do hot pot, my favorite, but I insisted on some spice from the west so it was off to, actually I forget the name of the joint, but it is across from the silk market and has the word Mexican in the name (oops) (see photos above).
It was our second foray to this place, our first ended in disappointment, when frustrated by horrible service, we walked out (spoiler alert). This time we gutted it out however and were exposed to some pre new years fireworks.
We sat and waited-and waited-and waited, had arrived at about 940 pm. The atmosphere of the joint was ok, and the pictured (Chinese) actually had a beautiful voice and sang the oldies with passion and style, made the waiting much more pleasant. Also, where else but China can you go to a Mexican restaurant, have a Chinese guy sing American songs and be surrounded by Russians, Slavs, Poles, all enjoying the same moment.
So we waited and enjoyed the show. In the rear of the building was a group of maybe 12 Americans waiting to be served, and a European or American lady come in little later after we did. When the show stopped around 1030pm, the waiting became more unbearable, and being a type A  personality, i decided to rectify this mistake in Chinese etiquette and push them for our meals. i had not noticed, but the large group of americans and the woman had not received their orders although the group came before us. In china, the squeaky wheel gets the greasin’, so I pushed  the guy about our order. Now, a little on ordering in china, they will say whatever to appease you, and actually do nothing, so I marshalled my emotional forces and asked each waiter as to the whereabouts of our food. Adequately annoyed and frustrated, the waiters then ignored our table for the better part of ten minutes. We pondered leaving the joint, it was around 1040 pm and the bewitching hour was fast approaching.
Suddenly the waiter rushed to our table, looking around nervously, he set down a huge chiminchanga and rushed off. unconcerned with his behavior, i plunged my fork into the delicacy and began to feast like a cannibal. The food was actually deliciious, but the chiminchanga was cold in the middle, I guess they had hurried it for us.
just as suddenly the lone woman (woman dining alone) got up and rushed off, had eaten nothing. it was hard for me to concentrate what with my fork stuffed into my face, so i gave it no thought. (she had left, pissed with the service). Funny thing is that in China there is a law that if you wait for 30 minutes you can leave without paying, (wtf??), I mean you cant eat, you can leave however. Yeah, so in China, you are so shut in that you cannot leave without paying without cause apparently ( another wtf).
So we were enjoying the rest of the meal when a large robust man (one of the 12 Americans) bound through the door way in the back to the wait table.
“Bu hao. Bu hao- Bu hao Bullshit!” he exclaimed loudly but was not that impolite. The large many waddled and looked at all the patrons making this proclamation of ‘bu hao’- not good, etc. we all merely watched, what else could i do with fork filled with chimichanga and fajita, my cheeks worked in and out like the pumps at a viaduct and I grinned at him. He wasnt making a scene per se, but was drawing a considerable amount of attention to himself.
“Very bu hao, very bullshit” he looked at the wait staff, who lowered their heads in collective shame. The man began to waggle a finger like parent to child, it had its intended effect as the Chinese skin town looked like that of our native American brethren. “Two hours we wait and no food!” he thundered.
Then a squeaky annoying voice of some older lady in the crew broke out, “Just how damn long does it take to make fajitas and chimichangas…”
My exhortations to the wait staff had not been expunged, even by all the calories I had consumed, i wrenched the fork from my face, looked down at the meal, now almost gone. I panicked, wondered if the old shrew and jolly rotund man had seen our stash, the delicacies that sat in front of us. Apparently they hadn’t, had just been some revelers out looking for a good meal and then off to a bar to ring in the new year.
The group collectively pissed and moaned and waddled out presumably to greet the New Year in a more favorable atmosphere. I looked down at my plate then at my friend, she continued to eat. Usually when I see foreigners acting like this- raising their voices, I feel a little shame- when a chinese does it i just write it off to them being an ass, but it pains me to see us act in this manner. But in all honesty, the man waited for over 2 hours, had taken some visitors to eat some great Mexican food in exotic Beijing and look what he gets, an empty plate and a griping , nagging wife. I would just like to reiterate that at moments like that I would have to say…
Bu hao bullshit!!

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Coke in China

Posted by w_thames_the_d on December 31, 2009

Well at least I think it is a Coke, could be a knock off for all I know…

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No Sense of Accomplishment- Eating in China

Posted by w_thames_the_d on December 23, 2009

China has some delicious food, but why then do I not feel a sense of accomplishment when I have eaten?

The ey is that here they are ultra collectivistic (good explanation here), and the impact is that you feel like you are such a part of the whole that you lose yourself, that you have no ownership nor self-determination.

The scenario, which is a microcosm of living here is that we eat at round tables, share the food. Consider this action, no head of the table, all are equals. Then, we each have matching dishes cups etc. The questions become, what is my food, how much can I eat, and when do I stop.

In the west it has been proven that the size of the portion dictates how much we ea (here).  Thus, we sit down, get ready to consume and are basically guided by the portions in front of us, their size will dictate how much we eat. In essence it is our guide. In addition, my plate is mine, my utensils mine, it occupies a space that I temporarily own. But here, in a round table, there is no sense of ownership. How does one appropriate the correct amount of food, after all what is mine, how much am I entitled to, do I eat till the others stop?

So basically it becomes a confusing state of sit, watch, peck at food then get up and leave with the rest of them, an odd feeling.

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American Breakfast

Posted by w_thames_the_d on December 19, 2009

Blogging from Steak and Eggs, a kick ass American style restaurant that has the exact taste as we have back home.  The owner’s name is Paul- good guy and the food taste likes any little eatery back home. Actually the experience is just like back home, except for the Chinese family looking to practice their English, more on this below.

But first I say it is like back home as I have my coffee, coke, eggs ham and bacon- coupled with my vile morning mood. Listening to two old guys, or one of them. Always like that, one goes on and on, opines about everything and nothing, and the other takes it all in ( I just blog). Anyway, I am using him as a surrogate news agency to wit just learned:

-S. Africa has one of the highest murder rates in the world-world cup will be there next year,- yeah couple murder rate with AIDS and sounds like a grand place for international event

-many companies didn’t survive the recession in same state, Pontiac, Saturn, Circuit City(if it is bad info blame the old pedophile looking dude, it came from him)

-Learned that he doesn’t care much for the current administration- he was guarded in this

-Learned that I miss America, the freedom of expression, the passion.

Now re- the Chinese couple. Yeah, the Chinese have this odd social security system,it is called children. No shit, the kids ALL OF THEM- are expected/required to give their parents around 20% of their salaries! See, this rising dragon has no social security per se and thus the responsibility falls on the kids. The folks prepare them and then send them off, tell them that the kids owe their folks, after all, they brought them into the world.

Parents without kids are screwed, after 60 they retire, get no cash from the government- it is sad. But maybe more sad is to watch the kids or listen to them. I teach at the uni here and the kids seem resentful, they say they are basically forced to give their folks cash and feel they have lost freedom.

I get the sense that they feel a lack of love, as if they were born with ulterior motives in mind. This could be due to the generation their parents were born had little money, thus having a child ensured that their golden years wouldn’t turn into ‘Kibbles and Bits and Meow Mix” futures.

I really feel for a society that treats kids like this. Go to anywhere in Latin America were kids are cherished, look at their happiness, then look at the kids around me.

they just back, have 2 kids,, looking to make fiend, not out of fun or love but with a goal, get kids good job so they can send money back, they all do it, really gives different perspective of kids and parenting. But I digressed, so back to the couple. The couple is speaking pigeon English/Chinglish and doing so in a loud manner. After you have been here a while you will understand. What they are looking for are ‘friends’, better said  foreigner friends. See, they speak some English and want the same for their kids-sounds reasonable right? But it is really polluted in light of the above. In the west, it seems that we do things for the love of it, maybe I am naive, but I think most people do not have ulterior motives (other than pleasure etc) when we do things. But here, they don’t make a move (obviously not all of them but I am talking 68% here), if they will not gain something.  It is like life to them is a big Go/Weiqi board. Nothing is free, not even freedom, every move calculated to get some result. Thus, these people wish to make friends, maybe we can all have tea, not really care about us/me, just want an English-speaking environment…. I feel so violated…….

So I guess I will just blog and observe…

Beijing taxis are the best…

ps. score, a large American family just arrived, so this Chinese family may have just avoided the cost of English lessons, now if they can only get close to the Americans and ‘be friends’.

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Hot Pot!!

Posted by w_thames_the_d on December 4, 2009

Ok, we have all heard how good Chinese food is and trust me, you cannot begin to understand this until you have come. Today I will introduce you to quite possibly the finest food in all of China… the venerable hot pot.

As with all things China, it has a long history, but quite possibly no one is sure of its true roots. Legend has it that it came from Genghis Khan, but here most seem to think it is a Chongqing dish. (check out the Chongqing hot pot here).

First off I must say that I have been around China and in mho I found Chongqing to have the best, Beijing, however is no slouch.  So, you may ask , just wtf is hot pot…. Well it is simply the best most satisfying dish on the planet. Dont get me wrong, I have lived in Mexico and they are master chefs ( I have never been to Italy, so my apologies), but in my travels, Chinese hot pot is without a doubt the best food I have ever tasted.

Ok check it…

take the best soup you ever tasted, but dont drink it, just wait

add some secret ingredients that make your tummy go yippeee

add some more stuff


put some meat, seafood, garnishes, plants, veggies, all that you can imagine, onto the table


add it like a fondue…

sounds simple but it rocks

basically it is a big pot on the table, like a bubbling cauldron of tasty yum yum, and that is just the soup. To this you add whatever meat and veggies you want. Then you sit and watch and salivate like Pavlov’s dogs, until you want to  die. All of the Chinese around will be remarkably controlled, but you will straight-arm a cop to get at its goodness. So you chuck in the meat and whatnot, then you wait some more, try to act polite and converse with your friends but dont give a shit, just want that damn meat. Then, its done so you act like “oh, is it ready” then like Queequeg from Moby Dick, you harpoon it with the savagery of a tribe of Watusis.  All the while smiling at your Chinese friends.

Then just when you think the feast is over, they pour all that delectable soup from the pot into your bowl and you drink it. Yeah, all that delicious stuff, grease meat fat etc, that has been collecting in the bowl, teaming up to attack your taste buds and it is set free for you to feast upon… omg I need a break

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Oh I am so tired…

Posted by w_thames_the_d on December 2, 2009

Upon entering Beijing, Shanghai, wherever, you are inundated by people uttering these words. In China, much like Japan, one shows loyalty by staying late at work, irrespective of work being done, and by complaining or whining.

The point of the whining, I suppose, is to let the emperor-like figure-head know that you have done your duty, that you hold his interests at heart. In my old company in China, I saw people literally sleeping at work and blaming their constant state of exhaustion on their work environment. Funny thing is that they are not working that hard! Yes they work, and my current company is like most you would find in the USA, but in general, they use the ruse of being so inundated with work to offset their net surfing, msn’ing etc.

It’s not really an old trick, in the states we use it as well. Be the first to arrive the last to leave and all, but here it takes on an added dimension, people sleeping standing up on the subway and the like. I have now started to emulate them, figure if I dont I will be seen as a slacker, I have to end this blog now, I am sooooo tired.

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