Monday, November 02, 2009

唐人要面子丶講排場, 是浪費的惡習嗎? / Saving Face, a wasteful Chinese tradition?


Recently, someone who had quite often attended meetings in China told me the following story:

Apparently, some restaurants have their meal-rates linked in direct proportion to the rental cost of the meeting/banquet rooms. So, when there are lots of guests, the room has to be big, and the cost of meal is inflated, regardless of whether the host wants that much food to eat or not (and never mind abt the quality). At the end of the event, it is most likely the host and foreign visitors will not ask for doggy-bags. The left-over food then becomes another "side-benefit" 下欄 for those working in the restaurant.

I told my friend: Well, at least the food is not wasted, even though the practice of charging the food-bill based on room-size sounds like a rip-off to me.

However, I can also see that the restaurants might be taking advantage of the Chinese tradition of "saving face". Let's face it (excuse my pun): Not an insignificant number of Tang people would go to great length and spend tonnes of money to show that they are "rich" and can "afford" to be wasteful. By having more food than anyone possibly can eat, they send the message of 有餘 and 家庭/國家富有 to their guests. But, as I mentioned in my comments to Fresh Designer: 如果上至官僚下至平民,個個要面子,樣樣講排場,咁就真係浪費金錢!!

It's abt time to ask: Isn't this so-called "face saving" practice a wasteful Chinese tradition?

Link: Fresh Designer Oct 11 2009: http://freshdesigner.blogspot.com/2009/10/blog-post_11.html (note: my article is not to pass judgment against his friend)

Photo Credit: China Daily News 2007

20 comments:

新鮮人 said...

中國人很愛面子,
古人說讀書為求"揚光聲,顯父母",
從前也有"先敬羅衣後敬人",
講的就是"名"和"面!

exile said...

Not to change topic but
have you seen "Saving Face"? A movie by Chinese Americans. I really enjoyed it.

Anonymous said...

好一句:衣錦不還鄉如錦衣夜行!

華工就算在金山的血汗工廠打工回到唐山鄉下就要大宴親朋戚友鄉紳父老。留學生若是讀書有成專業人士更不得了另加回鄉祭祖。

在外國發了達成為富翁就更大更巨大不得了一路上連隔離村條河對面都夾道歡迎成個鄉縣市省級領導都出來後。。。。。。。。。!


Space

Anonymous said...

衣錦還鄉...I hate this "Gold Mountain" thing. Last time I check, there is no freaking gold, just a bunch of problems like every where else, sigh...

There must be Chinese overseas who are still keeping this crap
alive . After all these years, can't we just be who we are.

Anonymous said...

oops.

exile

微豆 Haricot said...

新鮮人:

如果我返香港,又唔同人講"名"和"面",咁咪死哽??!!

微豆 Haricot said...

Exile: I remember reading abt "Saving Face" the movie. It's abt a daughter, her girl friend/lover, and her pregnant mother who wanted to marry to a guy she did not love.

微豆 Haricot said...

Space:

>> ... 衣錦不還鄉如錦衣夜行!

我還香也只会是「微」服出巡, 啊啊!!

微豆上

微豆 Haricot said...

Exile:

Heart Of Gold lyrics (Neil Young)

I want to live,
I want to give
I've been a miner for a heart of gold.
It's these expressions I never give
That keep me searching for a heart of gold
And I'm getting old.
Keeps me searching for a heart of gold
And I'm getting old.

I've been to Hollywood
I've been to Redwood
I crossed the ocean for a heart of gold
I've been in my mind, it's such a fine line
That keeps me searching for a heart of gold
And I'm getting old.
Keeps me searching for a heart of gold
And I'm getting old.

Keep me searching for a heart of gold
You keep me searching for a heart of gold
And I'm getting old.
I've been a miner for a heart of gold.

微豆 Haricot said...

Here is the YouTube video clip of a youthful Neil Young, singing "Heart of Gold" live:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eh44QPT1mPE

新鮮人 said...

微豆,
不用自己開口,
人家自會品評,
只是品評方式有點功利而已!

Anonymous said...

"I crossed the ocean for a heart of gold"

I love this line! No one sings like Neil Young.


exile

微豆 Haricot said...

新鮮人: 功利 ... sigh :(

微豆 Haricot said...

Exile: Yes, he is quite a singer and song writer. I saw him at the New Orleans International Jazz Fest earlier this year. Same long hair, just older. And the crowd cheered.

hevangel said...

I don't quite understand why people want to show off how rich they are by wasting food. In the past, you can't carry all your wealth with you, wasting food is a way to approximate how rich you are. Nowadays, you can just simply show other how many zeros in your bank statement if you want tell others you are rich.

微豆 Haricot said...

Hevangel: Perhaps I do understand, but still I do not agree with the whole idea of showing off to start with, no matter how they do it.

Ruth Tam said...

Food is Shanghai is always floating in oil. Once a Shanghanese colleague told me that it's because in the past, oil was a luxurious good and people couldn't have much. So, to show they are now rich, they put in a lot in food. In restaurant, they want to show the food is worth your money, they put in a lot of oil.

Very strange culture. When I go to Shanghai, I never have Shanghanese food. I always go to western restaurants just to avoid the oil.

微豆 Haricot said...

Ruth:

I can almost hear the same Shanghai people croak in their death beds:

"Oh, I am dying of a heart attack, but I am rich!!"

Badin said...

我想這不是只有唐人,這是飯店訂的規矩,或者是西方文化演變出來的。我先生過去在飯店工作,如Hilton or Hyatt 等,不管是商業會議還是私人婚禮,往往都會留下很多點心、廚餘,即使是整盤沒有人碰過的--通通都要丟棄。如果員工把食物帶回家被抓到,是會被開除的。就好像麥當勞、KFC每晚關店,總有很多薯條都要被丟棄。

很心疼對吧? 如果身為消費者的我們不要追求精緻的服務就不會造成不必要的浪費。可以想像我們穿西裝著晚禮服,然後高雅的提著便當袋? 就算你跟我都做的到,不見得所有人都跟我們一樣。

Haricot 微豆 said...

Badin:

>. .... 即使是整盤沒有人碰過的--通通都要丟棄
I thinks it must have something to do with the local restaurant regulations dealing with food and health issues .

>> .... 可以想像我們穿西裝著晚禮服,然後高雅的提著便當袋? 就算你跟我都做的到,不見得所有人都跟我們一樣。
True, I have never seen it happening in any formal business meetings !!!

Thanks for your input, much appreciated !!

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