A: I ate too much. B: No, you ate very little. You don't like my cooking.
I've have a weird experience. It certainly relates to the difference i cultures.
This weekend I was invited too my friends to have 火锅 huo3guo1 hotpot. Is was soo good and I ate very much. I was even a bit ashamed of eating that much, hehe.. However, when we had finished eating, this happened:
A. Whaa, that was soo delicious! I had too much too eat..
B. Today we ate very little.
A. What? We've been eating double as much as I usually eat.
B. I ate much. I eat very quickly. You didn't eat much.
B. Today we only had... say, one kilo of meat.
A. That's much.
B. It's very little.
I had a similar experience once before. At that time I aslo had an awful lot of food in my belly and the host said -Why do you eat so little. You don't like it!
I had already told her it was delicious. She persisted. -You ate very little.
What is the point of that sort of talk?
I guess it is some sort of polite ceremony because they are so nice all the time, but I actually find it disturbing, in fact rude.
changyeNovember 02, 2009, 11:17 AM
I heard before that you're not supposed to eat up all the foods served when you're treated/invited in China. Empty dishes automatically means (in China) that the amount of food was not enough, which means guests are still not full, and this just makes a host lose face. I don't know if this is really the case all over China.
dunderklumpenNovember 02, 2009, 11:38 AM
Thanks for the input :)
There were just three of us (me + them two) and we had the dinner at their place.
You know, I was raised in a family where speaking truth was seen as most important. So, when I say I like the food, I mean it. Being called a liar would be very condescending. So, if anybody says "No, you don't like it", that equals saying "No, you are lying, you don't like it". That's rude. From my point of view.
So, you are saying that lying is not a big deal in China? At least not when it come to the face-thing and food.
dunderklumpenNovember 02, 2009, 12:37 PM
There was still plenty left when we had finished. I guess they had prepared well over two kilos.
When I think about it the same thing happened when I visited China. When I had food in a restaurant the host would order twice as much food as we could possibly eat. Then there was this endlessly uttering of 多吃一点 until I (my belly) was just about to explode and I couldn't eat anymore. There sure are big differences in cultures! When me and my Swedish friends go to a restaurant in Sweden we order just as much as we are going to eat. If we leave some food, it means that we don't like it or think it is badly made. Thus, I try to finish the food that comes to the table when I eat with my Chinese friends. The problem is that they seem to prepare/order food for twice as many people than we actually are.
So, how should I do next time we eat; should I eat just as much to feel pleased myself, or should I eat more or less? Is it important to eat a certain amount (much or little) to be polite to the host?
miantiaoNovember 02, 2009, 10:44 AM
i'm not sure, but i'm guessing that she was trying to give you face, and attempting to be modest herself.
you ate a lot, everybody there would realise this. so she says you ate little giving you room to move.
she paid for the lot, i'm guessing here, and therefore forked out for the amount of food you ate. this gives her face in front of the other chinese guests, maybe, whilst being modest about it by saying you didn't eat much, and that they usually much more-gives face to herself and her chinese guests.
yes, the face etiquette map and subtleties in speech are difficult to negotiate. said meaning and intended meaning are often far removed.
in many ways almost like an ultra-polite form of sarcasm.
dunderklumpenNovember 02, 2009, 11:36 PM
I too hope I haven't caused you to misconstrue my meaning. Communicating is a tricky thing. Sometimes people misconstrue though I speak my native tounge. It is most likely even worse when I speak english. Not to mention when I speak chinese, 哈哈！
I appreciate your input :)
I think it will take a long time until I understand even the basic rules of chinese, er..., social interplay (?) (rules for interaction between people). But I'm enjoying the journey so far :) It's very different from what I'm used to.
I see. What if I finish a dish; is that a bad thing? Will I be considered greedy and gluttonous?
changyeNovember 02, 2009, 12:55 PM
You need to be a good "perfomer" (= a cheerful voracious eater) when you are invited to dinner/lunch here in China. However, contradictory enough, you must not eat up all the food, at the same time, you must not leave much on dishes. It's very Chinese.