Not just greetings: “Have you eaten yet?”

masterQChinese culture is also eating culture. You might already know that Chinese greet each other by asking: “Have you eaten yet?” “What have you had?” But you probably don’t know that these are potentially larger questions – depends on how you answer them:

I’ve been eating too much.” means you’ve been minding other people’s business;

I’m just muddling rice.” means you’re not caring about you job;

I’m well fed.” means you’re doing well;

I’m having vinegar.” means you’re jealous of something.

Similarly, these are the common meanings related to Chinese colloquial food culture:

A job is an “rice bowl“;

To live on savings is to “chew the old root“;

Being selfish is to “eat alone“;

Unable to speak up is to “eat one’s tongue“;

Not keeping your word is to “eat your word“;

Not understanding something thoroughly is to “bolt down dates“;

To be widely circulated is to be “hot in everyone’s mouth“;

Being a bully is “eating people“;

To be prosecuted is to “eat lawsuit“;

Taking advantage of women is “eating tofu“;

Being rejected is “eating turtle“.

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