It surprises me that there exists so many misconceptions about China, my homeland. Some of them are really hilarious, while others are both funny and annoying.
Let’s begin with some famous American Chinese food. Only after I found myself chewing a piece of paper did I realize what the fortune cookie really was. ‘’Am I supposed to swallow the blessing and digest it?’’ That was the idea crossing my mind as I stared at another crispy eggroll in my hand with some Chinese characters on its pack. The fortune cookies, which are served as a desert in Chinese restaurants everywhere in the USA, are not found anywhere in China. Actually, this food was invented by the Japanese and is still sold in some regions of Japan, especially in Kanazawa and Ishikawa. During World War II, Japan was locked by the USA and that was the time when some smart Chinese merchants moved in and popularized this cookie. What a lesson about free market!
General Tso’s chicken is another perplexing dish, especially for newcomers because we can’t connect the spelling ‘Tso’ to any meaningful Chinese character. Thanks to the omniscient search engine I finally got an explanation, directing the sweet and sour food to a famous Chinese military expert and hero in the Qing dynasty whose name is Zongtang Zuo. I’m not sure how the character ‘Tang’ evolved to ‘Tso’, but as you can see ‘Tso’ is not even his full first name. It’s like calling George Washington ‘General orge’, which is kind of funny. Imaging the scene that the general commands his army while cooking chicken is also hilarious. One thing to clarify is that the general Zongtang Zuo, of course, has nothing to do with the chicken.
There are also some contradictory impressions about China. As more Chinese travel abroad, rumors about Chinese increase like the snowball growing when rolling down the hill. One of my favorite talks about how Chinese grasp everything available like the tornado and leave nothing in the shop after leaving. Interestingly, some others view China as a ‘big North Korea’ (though that may also indicate a biased view about North Korea) where everyone rides a bike on the road in similar green or blue uniforms. It’s not clear which type of rumors dominates, but apparently a country with 1.3 billion citizens should be allowed to have its diversity and there is no wonder people see different types of Chinese. Just don’t make the one you meet or watch on TV to represent the whole population, as you may not want others to think that every American is a copy of Mr. Drumpf.
OK, here comes the ads of my hometown, Sichuan province of China, the home of pandas (not the python package!). It’s the only habitat where pandas live. Despite of this, we don’t own pandas as pets (why would people have such ideas?!) and walk them everyday.
Any further discussion about this topic is welcomed, but don’t ask me to teach you kung fu!