Me (making coffee): Would you like to try some?
Ayi: NO!
Me: C’mon, try it!
Ayi: No, no, no. We Chinese people don’t drink this stuff.
Me: Well, we Americans love it, especially in the morning. What do you drink in the morning? Green tea?
Ayi: In the morning, we eat rice porridge.
Me: No, but what about caffeine? Tea has caffeine, and so does coffee, so you could drink tea in the morning for some caffeine.
Ayi: We eat rice porridge in the morning.

Me (holding out an oatmeal-raisin cookie): Here, eat this.
Ayi: What is this?
Me: Um, I don’t know the word for it. It’s sweet.
Ayi (chewing): Hmm. Did you make this?
Me: Yeah. Is it okay?
Ayi: It’s okay. Did you make it with wheat flour?
Me: Uh, yeah.
Ayi: We Chinese people like to eat rice.

(while making Christmas dinner)
Me (proffering a can of cranberry sauce): Have you ever tried this?
Ayi: What is this? (reads the back of the can) No.
Me: I think it’s very American.
Ayi: We Chinese people just like to eat rice.
Me: Chinese food is way more than just rice! It’s got all kinds other of stuff.
Ayi: We Chinese people like to eat rice.



Filed under Life in the Bike Lane

3 responses to “Rice

  1. Kip

    Makes me wonder if your Ayi, as well as your neighbors have been told not to get to close with that American Military family. Or maybe It could just be her social status and insecurity. The wealthier Chinese consider rice a symbol of when China was poor and they could not get meat. I doubt they would ever say the Chinese eat rice. What do you think is the reason she acts intimidated of other food and says they just eat rice?

  2. Auntie Tina!

    Dad, from what I’ve gathered, people in northern China eat less rice (and more dumplings) in general than people in southern China. The people you have met have also probably been exposed to much more western culture and thinking. Everyone here in Nanyue eats rice, and they consider it to be super healthy. The other teachers get concerned that Jooik and I don’t eat enough of it. They honestly believe that it is a necessary part of the diet, regardless of social class. I think Ayi is genuinely concerned that Nick and Bayley do not eat rice.

  3. jess

    This might not be the case for Ayi or China, but in Indonesia and Malaysia, the phrase “eat rice” translates as “eat a proper meal”. People say they “eat rice”, meaning “rice with stuff: a balanced meal of rice/protein/vegetables/sauces”, also meaning they would hate to substitute a real meal for foods they see as snacks and side-dishes (western food), no matter how much of it they may eat. If they eat western food all day, they’ll say they haven’t eaten….

    I went to the Japanese tea garden in SF yesterday, they were selling “rice porridge” which was rice with seaweed, toasted rice, sesame seeds with green tea poured over it. Does Ayi make her porridge with tea?

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