Imagine this in the average North American family restaurant

Imagine this, from the front counter of a neighbourhood restaurant, suddenly appearing one night in an average North American restaurant:
Chinese_health_drink
Perhaps, you can’t believe your eyes. But it’s exactly what it looks like: a full set of some male animal’s genitalia (seal, I’m guessing) soaking with gǒuqǐ berries and some other, unidentified ingredients in báijiǔ, China’s infamously impression-leaving hard liquor.

These health tonics in glass barrels on restaurant counters are pretty common in our area. For a fuller description, see:

Curiosity + China = way more than I bargained for

Drink this for your yang

Fish heads

I remember as a kid being told how there were people on other countries who were so poor they had to eat fish heads and rice. The general point about how good we have it in the West compared to most of the rest of the world is more or less legit, but it never occurred to me then that people in other countries might actually like fish heads.fishheaddish
(From one of our neighbourhood restaurants.)

Conversations I’m guessing my North American female friends never have

yourfaceisfatFrom my Wexin (WeChat) the other day:

Woman 1: [shares photo]

Woman 2: “Hey, your face is fatter than it used to be, you should pay attention to control how much you eat so you can lose weight.”

Woman 1: “Haha, that’s because I’m the farthest in front. I sacrificed myself! You’re both behind me.”

Chinese (and other cultures) can be incredibly blunt by North American standards. Particularly when it comes to bodies and physical appearance. Or: North Americans are hyper-sensitive about their bodies (probably because we’re raised in a photoshop-saturated media culture, we’re taught to have very thin skin and feel entitled to society’s affirmation, and neo-platonic dualism is a major formative element in our general worldview). While Chinese may ultimately rate somewhere on the “insensitive” side of a global scale, they’re closer to the majority-world norm than we are when it comes to talk about appearance.

Jessica has an endless supply of funny-but-painful anecdotes like this.