Ask McFartnuggets: "Do Chinese People Call it Chinese Food or Just Food?"

No one says "I'm gonna get
some fried wontons."
Dear McFartnuggets: 
Do Chinese people call Chinese food “Chinese food” or do they just call it “Food”? Because Italian people don't say “Italian food” they always say things like “I’m gonna go get some chicken parmesan and gabagoool!” -- Illiana from Boston, Massachusetts

Dear Illiana:
Actually I have heard Chinese people call Chinese food “Chinese food.” I think it’s just something weird about Chinese food. You’re right, normally ethnic people refer to their own cuisine by specific items. You never hear Indian people say “Let’s go get Indian food” they usually will announce specific items like “Paneer” and “Naan.” For some reason whenever I hear Chinese people talking about Chinese food they always say “I’m getting Chinese” they never get into the specifics of like “General Tso’s Chicken” or “Chow Mein.” If I have to guess it’s because Chinese food is not really known for specific items that have their own unique identity. When you eat Chinese food it’s a general experience that involves a lot of different items like a Pupu platter. It’s not like pizza where it would be weird to call pizza “Italian food” even though that’s what it is. People need to form stronger bonds with specific Chinese entrees and until then they will always refer to it in general as “Chinese food.”

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