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Eating Chinese style

Posted by Baceseras on May 06, 2009 at 15:15

In Reply to: Eating Chinese style posted by R. Berg on May 05, 2009 at 17:55:

: : Is anyone familiar with the phrase "eating Chinese style"? I learned it from my mother, who was born and raised in California. It was not meant to be derogatory. It simply meant eating dessert first, before the meal. Does anyone know the origin of this phrase? I'd appreciate knowing since all of my family is deceased.

: I was also born and raised in California, and I've never heard this expression. I've heard "an upside-down dinner," also from a native Californian, for the dessert-first sequence. Although derogation wasn't intended, I think it's there, in a subtle way, because "Chinese style" for doing something backward suggests the old American stereotype of the Chinese as inscrutable and having peculiar customs. ~rb

We may be too quick to find offense in such phrases - it's likelier the simple meaning is the old "antipodean" joke: the other side of the world, where everything's done the opposite way. We shouldn't be surprised to find that in China they make the same joke back at us (although, of course, they give the punchline first).