Humorist David Sedaris has been lauded near and far for his “droll assessment of the mundane” — a topic that, in his hands, can include everything from Macy’s elves to nudist colonies to turds left orphaned in the toilet bowl. It doesn’t usually include food, but Sedaris has neatly rectified that omission by writing, at considerable length and with stunning political incorrectness, of his hatred of Chinese food.
Writing in The Guardian last Friday, Sedaris recounted a recent trip to China, an experience he viewed as tantamount to a chore. “What initially put me off was the food,” he writes. “I’ll eat it if the alternative means starving, but I’ve never looked forward to it, not even when it seemed exotic to me.”
Sedaris goes on to portray the Chinese more or less as phlegm and snot factories, and the streets of their country as practically flooded with the mucoid and fecal harvests of their various bodily orifices. All of which brings him to the reason he hates the food: He just can’t stop thinking about the people making it. “It was while eating my second duck tongue that the man at the next table hacked up a loud wad of phlegm and spat it on to the floor,” he writes. “‘I think I’m done,’ I said.” He recounts a second meal at an establishment with a C rating where he’s served various parts of a rooster:
“Here, though, I thought of the sanitation grade, and of the rooster, pecking maggots out of human faeces before being killed. Most of the restaurants in China to me smelled dirty, though what I was smelling was likely some unfamiliar ingredient, and I was allowing the things I’d seen earlier in the day — the spitting and snot blowing, etc. — to fill in the blanks.”
Obviously, the man is entitled to his opinion, but, wow, did he go there. Repeatedly. Whether or not one chooses to go with him is a matter of one’s tastes and prejudices, and personal experience of China, but suffice to say we can’t think of anyone who we’d less like to take on our next trip to Flushing.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 18, 2011