- Jul 3, 2011
So basically, if I ever find myself in China for some reason, just don't eat anything. Got it.Yan007 said:I'm sure Chinese readers will be able to tell everyone more about this, especially if they are honest, but here are a few things you should be aware of before coming to China for vacation or work. This will sound racist, I know, but it is how life is here. It is getting better, but we're not there yet.:
1- Sanitary: Chinese people are generally not clean. Or rather, not clean in the sense most other cultures would agree with. In China, if your hands are not visibly soiled, then they are clean. You go to the bathroom, wipe your ass: hands still white? Clean! The person cooking your food may wash his hands only once a day, after work. This is normal everywhere, including in hospitals regardless of who you are (patient, doctor and so on). They say you are what you eat, but here you are also what is on your chef's hands (and bottom). Also, there is no shame in defecating in public, even between rows of fresh food at a supermarket. Keep this in mind. It is very common for restaurants and even hospitals to NOT have any soap. This also explains why you will see people defecate in public or with the bathroom door open: They think that if they don't touch the door or don't go to the bathroom then it is cleaner for them and therefore they won't get sick or need to wash their hands. Yes.
2- Fake food: You may think some food may be "fake" in the West. I agree. I love real food. Especially now. Imagine going into a supermarket and NEVER knowing if what you buy is real. The ingredients list may be fake, the ingredients themselves may be hazardous to your health, the food may be spoiled and you can forget about nutritional information: If it is present on the package at all, then it is most probably fake too.
I even had "fake" oranges once. The oranges themselves were real. The problem was as follows: The oranges had been painted and coated with some kind of wax to look fresh and colorful. Inside, they were old and rotting. Sometimes you'll buy walnut only to realize later that the seller already took the meat inside and replaced it with stones and glued the nut back together to make more money.
3- My stomach is upset: Almost everyone who comes here will experience a phase after a couple months during which you feel like you are dying. It's like having the worst case of diarrhea mixed with a complete loss of energy and will to live. You realize that the food you eat is poisonous and you will have to adapt, leave or die. Most of my coworkers (Chinese people) will have upset stomachs at least once every 2 months and get real bad food poisoning at least twice a year. The same happens to me. Here, it is normal and people don't think an upset stomach or food poisoning is serious: it just happens. They will often just shrug it off and say "today's food was bad, maybe tomorrow's will be better." They are often in awe when I tell them I suffered from food poisoning only once in my life before coming to China and having an upset stomach is not that common too.
4- Water: When travelling, it is said you shouldn't drink the local water. In China, nobody drinks the local water - not even the locals. Our water often has "particles" so you have to boil it for 15 minutes or use a water fountain.
5- Cold kills EVERYTHING: Remember what I said about the water? Here, ice cream is pretty popular and here is how it's made: powdered milk, another powder and TAP WATER because: the machine will make the ice cream cold and cold kills bacteria! (It does not). Eating ice cream from street vendors and restaurants will give you a very bad case of diarrhea for this very reason. Also, this is why you will see Chinese people only use cold water to wash their hands: you think they are lazy - they seriously believe the cold water killed the germs and bacteria.
6- Quality control: Forget what you know about quality control and government regulations. Any rule can be broken and any regulator can be bought. My friend who owns his restaurant has a "perfect" score for his restaurant - he just paid for it.
If you got any question about food here or otherwise, reply here or send me a pm. I'll be glad to tell more.
Here in Canada I think out food regulations are pretty good for the most part. We do get some fake stuff but it's actually labelled as fake (imitation, artificial, etc) and it still has to go by the CFA.
Much as I love maple syrup, it costs an arm and a leg. Sometimes I'd rather just get a similar taste without getting a second mortgage.