perspectives from an ABC.

it’s funny to think how different i still am from the people who live in china even though i am 100% chinese. the relative that i’m living with says that ABCs (American Born Chinese) like me are pretty easy to spot. as an asian growing up in america, i think we do have a different outlook on a lot of things than chinese people who grow up in china. but is it really that obvious that we aren’t from china? i used to think it was the way i dressed but i feel like girls in beijing are slowly becoming more “westernized” and wearing shorter shorts and flip flops and tank tops. i asked my cousin and she said we stand out because we have “more meat on our bones.” haha-guess that should be taken as a compliment?

but i always wonder how obvious it is. yesterday, i sat in Tous Les Jours, this REALLY yummy bakery in Wu Dao Kou, i wondered if the people around me could tell that i was a wa di ren (foreigner). at first i just sat around and did some innocent people watching. but i got bored just sitting in the bakery eating my cranberry scone and drinking my banana orange juice so i pulled out my copy of A Thousand Splendid Suns and finished reading it. (sidenote: it’s an amazing book. totally would recommend reading it!). at that point, i guess it’s pretty obvious that i’m not actually FROM china.

and then today, i went with a friend of mine from harvard who is also in beijing to Xiu Shui Jie (Silk Street Market). this place is filled with foreigners buying things and most of the vendors there are fluent in like ten languages. my friend and i made a pledge to speak only chinese so we wouldn’t give away our american background in hopes of getting cheaper prices. for the most part, we got by with our mandarin but at most vendors we went to, they would ask where we were from. they thought we were singaporean or malaysian! but if we liked the vendors (aka they gave us good prices or were super nice) we would tell them we were students from america and they would be super impressed.

so usually when you past vendors, they say “yao bu yao mai bao?” (do you want to buy a bag?). but A LOT of the time when we walked past, they would straight up speak to us in english without bothering to say any chinese. are we really that foreign looking??

and for dinner, my cousin took me to eat at KFC. now KFC in china is VERY VERY different from KFC in the US. in china, it’s considered pretty “high class eating” and there are tons of asian-infused options. for dinner, i had their newest sandwich which they called the “new orleans chicken sandwich.” it was basically a piece of spicy chicken on bread with some lettuce, green peppers (random…) and mayonnaise. i also had a little bit of their “beijing style chicken wrap” which is like a peking duck wrap (tian mian jiang and cucumbers) but with a piece of fried chicken instead of duck meat.

one of my all-time favorite desserts are egg tarts and china KFC happens to offer them! (if only us KFCs offered cheap fast food egg tarts…) but the weird thing about the ones at KFC were that they had PEACHES in them! a random combination but surprisingly delicious. i also tried their signature juice called 9 lives. i’m pretty sure it was just some tang mixed with water. nothing special. and definitely not worth the 8 yuan.

it’s funny to think that in america, KFC is not a big deal at all but in china, it’s like the epitome of “good quality food.” did i mention it’s also super expensive in comparison to other food? as an ABC, i guess my perspective on a lot of what china has to offer is a bit different. i would MUCH rather spend 1 yuan on a baozi from a street vendor than 15 yuan on a chicken sandwich from KFC.


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