Another day, another argument between the loudest Anglophone countries on the internet. The UK and the USA have such a huge gulf of cultural differences, it’s almost like we speak a different language.
This is obvious even in what we choose to eat. Many Americans can’t make sense of the fact that baked beans exist, and the British are snobby about things like processed cheese. In all honesty, there are national delicacies on both sides of the pond that are an affront to our tastebuds.
However, that doesn’t stop us from finding new ways to insult each other’s cuisine. The US/UK food debate has raged long and hard over the years, right down to how each country tips in restaurants. This week, a new round of discourse has exploded on social media. Americans have discovered what stereotypical British Chinese takeout looks like, and they’re not happy.
The whole ordeal started on TikTok, as all the stupidest debates do. American TikTokers started to get videos about British Chinese takeout orders on their For You pages, and they had questions. Why were there fries? Why was it so brown? And why the heck were they calling it ‘a Chinese’?
Inevitably, this confusion spiraled into some harsh words from both sides. Americans gagged at the sight of these loaded plates, and speculated on racist undertones; British people insisted that American Chinese food was more gross, and that they didn’t understand the cultural significance of it in the UK. Once the argument migrated to Twitter, it only became more heated.
The reality is, each country often experiences food from other cultures with some unique (and maybe not so nice) twists designed to make it more appealing to a mainstream clientele. Something like the humble crab rangoon is neither authentically Chinese, nor something that many British people would understand. Also, calling it ‘Chinese’ instead of Chinese takeout or Chinese food is nothing more than a simple linguistic difference between British and American English.
It’s times like this that both sides would benefit from showing a touch of humility. British people insist on putting potatoes where a potato would never naturally be, and Americans chow down on an encyclopedia of additives that are banned in many other places. Ultimately, Panda Express and a Chinese chippy are two sides of the same pandering-to-a-western palate coin — and both can be pretty tasty, if you’re into that.