Have you eaten today?

Lately I painted quite a lot of animals and plants, and before each painting I usually spend a decent amount of time studying this particular animal or plant, so that its three-dimensional image is imprinted in my head before I lift the brush to paint. In each research however, if this plant or animal has been seen in the ancient Chinese times, there normally will be records about it, detailing its name, color, size, and other properties, especially how this plant or animal is beneficial to us humans – it may increase our blood flow, clear our lungs, strengthen our hearts, etc. I often say that the Chinese people prefer multi-functional things, so if something is pretty, it better also be useful too, or at least be tasty. The more I think about it, the more I realize this “trying to taste everything” tendency is something that I wanted to share with you.

vegetable salad

“The only thing I like better than talking about food is eating.”

– John Walters

Someone once said that there can not have been mermaids in the world, because the ancient Chinese books never wrote about them, not their looks nor how they taste like! “Chi” means “to eat” in Chinese, and no wonder China is spelled this way, eating is a deeply rooted personality trait in the Chinese blood. In my hometown there is a saying that if you have encountered something so upsetting that one BBQ session cannot even fix, then have a second one.

We love food, and we love eating. There are many slangs and expressions about eating in Chinese that explain almost everything we do in life! We call our jobs, “bowl” – a job with great security is called an “iron bowl”; a glamorous job is called a “gold bowl”; to get fired can be referred to as “lost the bowl”. In fact, to get fired can also be called “to stir-fry somebody’s squid”.

food healthy wood agriculture
Ma La Tang (麻辣烫)
  • When you are jealous, others would say that you are “eating vinegar”;
  • When you want to get back together with an ex, you can be called “turning around to eat grass”;
  • To be in a relationship with someone close to you, you will be called “eating the grass near your nest”;
  • When you do well in a company, your boss loves you, then you are “eating fragrance”;
  • If unfortunately you are not popular in your company, then you are “not eating well”;
  • To get sued, there is the expression to “eat affaire”‘
  • When making a loss, having to suffer from an unfairness, you have experienced “eating deficit”;
  • Harassments are referred to as to be “eaten Toufu”;
  • To receive kickbacks, you have “eaten” the kickback;
  • Suffering from poverty at the end of the month, you are “eating dirt”
  • … …

Ask a Chinese person to read this word “奶酪陷阱” (Cheese trap), I believe many would see it as “cheese tart” (奶酪馅饼) – we are always alert and receptive for any food related stimulus! Even the main theme of the Monkey King story (Journey to the West) is all about a whole bunch of monsters trying their best to eat the monk…

bowl of dimsum

So, if you are at all similar to a Chinese person after checking with the previous parts, then when you have a hard time falling asleep, perhaps think twice about counting sheep, because this may be how it goes:

One sheep, two sheep, three sheep, lamb, roll of lamb, sesame sauce, lettuce, mushroom, shrimp, rice noodle, spicy soup, mushroom soup, tomato soup… …

You may have to get up and and find out where to get some hotpot…

Ok ok, I admit, we are big foodies. I think as long as we still enjoy eating, then the world is going to continue getting better! You know many happy and productive Chinese people? Now you know why!

Enjoy such cultural discussions? Have comments? I look forward to hearing from you!

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