China Blog Post #1

During our third weekend in Beijing, we had a “ND Alumni” lunch celebration at a restaurant near the new Notre Dame Beijing Global Gateways office (which we toured afterwards). At the restaurant were previous/current ND students who were also in China, as well as Chinese international students who were about to start their first year at Notre Dame. I sat with some of these students, their parents, as well as a couple Chinese teachers. During the lunch, waiters and waitresses brought out one dish at a time, each dish unique to the Hunan province that the restaurant specialized in. When they brought out the first tofu dish (which was incredible), my one of my Chinese teachers mischievously asked me, “Eric, do you like to eat tofu?” in Chinese. I, naive to Chinese slang, responded enthusiastically, “I absolutely like to eat tofu!” This prompted giggles from the other Chinese students and snorts from the Chinese teachers. Turns out, someone who “likes to eat tofu” is slang for someone who has…”promiscuous” tendencies. When I replied how much I liked to eat tofu, I was basically saying that I liked to flirt with lots of women and pursue multiple relationships. It seemed like this particular slang was known to both young adults and older generations, and was used to poke fun at friends. If you actually want to express your honest and innocent appreciation for tofu, you have to say so in a slightly roundabout way: “Tofu is a dish I love eating,” or “Eating tofu is something I like.”