She’s craving a giant bowl of sliced eel floating in boiling oil with vegetables and garlic. He’s dying for pasta with no-nonsense tomato ragu. Who will win the dinner debate?
In mixed marriages, many of Chinese and Western pairings, this question can really stir the pot … and it sometimes spoils the broth.
Just ask Wang Yangding. This Chinese, UK-based writer has a highly thought-provoking essay on Caixin titled, “How Food Helps Calm Culture Clashes in Mixed Marriages.”
Reading it could save your marriage or the marriage of someone you love. It feeds the brain too.
Comments Wang, “All marriages have their ups and downs, and mixed marriages are often doubly difficult due to cultural clashes. After any argument there will be the usual apologies, but my British husband often goes a step further when I’m upset and cooks the most amazing Chinese food.”
For those foreigners who are not natural Dashan’s (http://dashan.com/) in the Chinese kitchen, this bar might be hard to beat. Especially since Wang’s husband is a master of even regional dishes.
She continues, “While I am originally from Yunnan Province in southwest China, I love the spicy flavors of Sichuan cuisine. And in little under a decade my husband has learned to cook such dishes as spicy tofu, ‘ants climbing trees,’ and hot and spicy chicken. What’s more they taste just as authentic as when I’m back in China. I am often overwhelmed by his fastidiousness in the kitchen, as he quickly but carefully prepares ingredients and sauces.”
She further notes, “For example, he may simply thinly slice a spring onion, or cut it diagonally to create ‘horse ears.’ Or for garnishes he’ll cut thin threads and steep them in cold water to make them curl. The results are truly amazing, and even my friends and family in China are impressed by his cooking skills. Indeed, some are quite astounded that a foreigner can cook such good Chinese food. Sitting at the table in my parents’ house, my father commented that my husband’s Sichuan-style sweet and sour fish was just like eating restaurant food.”
Of course, that does not mean he wants to eat Chinese food nightly. Explains Wang, “The truth is that however delicious Chinese dishes are, most Westerners do not enjoy eating Chinese food every day. And even in mixed marriages they might miss even just simple things like bread, cheese and butter. In fact, while my husband loves to pamper me with the delicious tastes of Yunnan, Sichuan and Cantonese cuisine, he himself gets a little fed up with Chinese every day. But just as he desires a good curry, so too do I, though perhaps not quite as much.”
Wang adds, “So, striking a balance is important to a happy family. Sometimes, failing to deal with this delicate issue could lead to arguments, hurting of feelings and even a broken marriage!”
Now that’s keeping a mixed marriage evenly spiced.