竹升 – becoming a weird banana

Of course not a real banana,  it’s related to 竹升 – a Cantonese term for Chinese people who has grown up in Western society, cannot speak, read or write Chinese. It refers to ‘yellow’ skin outside and ‘white’ filling inside. Personally I think it might be a little offensive towards Western Born Chinese/Asians in general, but it’s not what I want to write about today.

Recently I’ve noticed that I’m slowly losing my origins. Being European girls, in relationship with Asian living in Northern America is little bit like being a third culture child. For sure I’m white, I was rised in white society, most of my life I spent speaking my language, eating my food, watching my TV. Last few years it all started to change – our TV is set to have Asian channels, if I’m lucky enough it has English subtitles. We meet up only with Asian people, we eat mostly Asian food. We rent our place from Chinese landlord, we go shopping to Chinese or Korean malls. In my kitchen you can find 7kg of rice, 3 types of noodles but you cannot find a bread or cheese. And even there’s a huge Polish community in Chicago, in the place we live the most Polish thing I saw was ‘Polish sausage’ in the mall.


All of those small things made me little bit scare of turning into some kind of ‘reversed banana’ – white outside, yellow inside. Traditions slowly vanishing, I start to make mistakes in my own language because I use Chinese or English grammar and it doesn’t make sense. Honestly I was terrified – I’ve always wanted to be the best Western-Asian wife for my husband, but I never wanted it to overcome me.

To make me more upset my friend show me page with ’84 Ways To Know If You’re Chinese’ – according to it “If you check off 100%, you should not be living in Canada/USA because you are too Chinese. However, if you check off less than 42 items (50%), you are a fruit (banana: yellow on the outside but white inside). If you only say yes to 20 items, Canada owes you a medal …. so proud to be a Canadian/American” and to cheer myself up I actually done that:

1. You unwrap Christmas gifts very carefully, so you can save and reuse the wrapping and next year – checked, since I was a child my mom told me to be careful, later she started to buy those bags, so we exchanged every year.
2. You only buy Christmas cards after Christmas, when they are 50% off.
3. When there is a sale on toilet paper, you buy 100 rolls – checked, since we went to Costco I can actually make a second bed from all the rolls.
4. You have a vinyl table cloth on your kitchen table – it’s cute, it’s pink, I move it after the meal… but still, guilty.
5. Your stove is covered with aluminum foil.
6. Your kitchen has a sticky film of grease over it – try to fry or cook Chinese food without fat and oil all around you, you can clean it but every meal it comes back. Checked by Sisyphus-Lina a.k.a. 薛西弗斯
7. You have stuff in the freezer since the beginning of time – it’s hard to eat 200 dumplings at once.
8. You use the dishwasher as a dish rack.
9. You have never used your dishwasher – I currently don’t even have one.
10. You keep a Thermos of hot water available at all times.
11. You boil water and put it in the refrigerator.
12. You eat all meals in the kitchen – no choice, our kitchen is connected with the room
13. You save grocery bags, tin foil, and tin containers
14. You use grocery bags to hold garbage – about those two points, it’s something my husband’s old Landlord taught me and I want to share with all housewive. You know how bad old bones or leftover food can smell – when you have a bag of wet napkins, just reuse it, put some small grocery bag inside and throw things that can smell there, that will stop throwing garbage every single day because it smells. I also clean it before put new bag and add a bit of air freshner.

15. You always leave your shoes at the door – even my husband doesn’t do that, but I just like my house to be clean.
16. You have a piano in your living room.
17. Your parents know how to launch nasal projectiles.
18. You iron your own shirts. 
19. You play a musical instrument.
20. You pick your teeth at the dinner table (but you cover your mouth). 
21. You twirl your pen around your fingers.
22. You hate to waste food… 
a. Even if you’re totally full, if someone says they’re going to throw away the leftovers on the table, you’ll finish them.
b. You have Tupperware in your fridge with three bites of rice or one leftover chicken wing. – there’s just one phrase Polish mothers tell their children ‘You don’t need to finish the potatoes, but at least finish meat’
23. You don’t own any real Tupperware–only a cupboard full of used but
carefully rinsed margarine tubs, takeout containers, and jam jars.
24. You also use the jam jars as drinking glasses.
25. You’ve eaten a red bean popsicle. – Not exactly, I tried salty icecream in Shanghai and I got Japanese salty candies… I hate them. And I hate ginger candies. And all veggie-weird ‘sweets’.
26. You bring oranges (or other produce) with you as a gift when you visit people’s homes.
27. You have a collection of miniature shampoo bottles that you take every time you stay in a hotel. – it’s useful for future traveling, if you take an airplane with only handcarry you should have small shampoo etc.
28. The condiments in your fridge are either Price Club sized or come in plastic packets, which you save/steal every time you get take out or go to McDonald’s.
29. Ditto paper napkins.
30. You never order room service.
31. You carry a stash of your own food whenever you travel (and travel means any car ride longer than 15 minutes)…..These travel snacks are always dried. As in not just dried plums, dried ginger, and beef/pork jerky, but dried cuttlefish (SQUID). – It’s just delicious.
32. You own a rice cooker. – honestly, most shameful thing I’ve ever got. I mean if you’re Asian people look at you with ‘You’re Asian, you eat rice, it’s OK’, but when you’re white female and you’re buying a rice cooker they give you that ‘You cannot make a proper rice without a cooker’ look.
33. You wash your rice at least 2-3 times before cooking it.
34. You spit bones and other food scraps on the table. (That’s why you need the vinyl tablecloth).
35. Your parents vehemently refuse the sack of gold coin oranges that their guests just brought just to be courteous.
36. You fight over who pays the dinner bill
37. Your dad thinks he can fix everything himself. – actually he can, even my husband.
38. You majored in something practical like engineering, medicine or law.
39. When you go to a dance party, there are a wall of guys surrounding the dance floor trying to look cool
40. You live with your parents and you are 30 years old (and they prefer it that way). Or if you’re married and 30 years old, you live in the apartment next door to your parents, or at least in the same neighborhood – ha, not even close!
41. You don’t use measuring cups.
42. You feel like you’ve gotten a good deal if you didn’t pay tax.
43. You beat eggs with chopsticks.
44. Your parents’ house is always cold.
45. You have a teacup with a cover on it – before I moved out of Europe I had whole collection
46. You reuse teabags.
47. You have a drawer full of old pens, most of which don’t write anymore.
48. If you’re under age 20, you own a really expensive walkman. If you’re over 20, you own a really expensive camera and/or stereo system.
49. Your mom drives her Mercedes to the Price Club.
50. You always look phone numbers up in the phone book, since calling Information costs 50 cents
51. You tip Chinese delivery guys/waiters more.
52. You’re a wok user.
53. You only make long distance calls after 11pm.
54. You know all the waiters at your favourite Chinese restaurants.
55. You like Chinese films in their original undubbed versions… – because white people’s dubbed movies suck.
a. You love Chinese Martial Arts films.
b. Shao Lin and Wu Tang actually mean something to you.
56. You have acquired a taste for bittermelon.
57. You like congee with thousand year old eggs.
58. You prefer your shrimp with the heads and legs still attached–it means they’re fresh.
59. You never call your parents just to say hi.
60. You always cook too much.
61. If you don’t live at home, when your parents call, they ask if you’ve eaten, even if it’s midnight.
62. Also, if you don’t live at home, your parents always want you to come home.
63. Your parents tell you to boil herbs and stay inside when you get sick.
64. When you’re sick, they also tell you not to eat fried foods or baked goods because they produce hot air (yeet hay in Cantonese).
65. You e-mail your Chinese friends at work, even though you only sit 10 feet apart.
66. Your parents never go to the movies.
67. Your parents send money to their relatives in China.
68. You use a face cloth.
69. Your parents use a clothes line.
70. You’re always late.
71. You eat every last grain of rice in your bowl, but don’t eat the last piece of food on the table.
72. You starve yourself before going to all you can eat sushi.
73. You’ve joined a CD club at least once.
74. You know someone who can get you a good deal on jewelry or electronics.
75. You never discuss your love life with your parents.
76. Your parents are never happy with your grades.
77. You save your old Coke bottle glasses even though you’re never going to use them again.
78. You keep used batteries.
79. You own your own meat cleaver and sharpen it.
80. You keep most of your money in a savings account.
81. You know what MJ means.with me
82. You’ve been on the Love Boat or know someone who has.
83. Your toothpaste tubes are all squeezed paper-thin.
84. You take this message and forward it to all your Chinese friends

So according to that I’m a twisted, crazy fruity girl. And then I suddenly realized it’s not what I’ve become, but who I’ve always been. Before meeting my husband, before getting into Asian culture, before everything. That also means the culture, backgroud and rising are NOT that different. It’s not being around Chinese people that made me this way, it has always been me. A fruity girl, western-eastern wife.

I’m curious about your results, how Chinese YOU are? I would be happy if you share your answers 🙂


32 thoughts on “竹升 – becoming a weird banana

  1. Number 14 is also something I had never thought about doing until my Asian fiancee brought it up! Now we re-use those grocery bags for any “spoil-able” garbage. Nice post!


  2. You will be called ‘custard bun’ by ABCs (Australian Born Chinese) – white outside with yellow filling 🙂 I think Polish, Hungarians and other Eastern Europeans carry similar traits to Asians, that of being frugal, which is good. 😉


      1. Heh, I see. I can tolerate it, but I don’t really like it.

        Tea eggs, on the other hand, are pure awesomeness!


  3. I checked off just as many as you! Not the same ones, but some were. I’m very frugal, so that came into play in a lot of these questions.

    I always feel sad when I read about someone who feels like they’re losing some of their cultural identity. I hope not. But if you’re aware of it, then maybe you’ll make sure it doesn’t happen. You’ll remember your roots.


  4. I haven’t gone through the entire list, but I SO understand what you describe about the fact to live with an Asian partner! I think the key thing not to have your own cultural identity “vanished” is to do things on your own…good luck, keep on blogging!!


  5. Yes, I was about to say that your culture is closer to Chinese than you initially think! Especially the part about Parents just show you have always been like this. Congratulations, you are a reversed banana (and I meant that as a compliment). 😉


  6. Dear god, there’s so much coming back to me now … by the way, I prefer the custard analogy to the banana version. But now, what does it mean when I’ve had people tell me I’m more European than Chinese? Given my familiarity of the list in your post, isn’t what I just wrote a little messed up? 😀


  7. This list is so true!

    36. You fight over who pays the dinner bill
    The Hong Kong people are really drama mama on this! Its kinda like a obligatory procedure.


  8. Thanks for following my blog! Reading your posts has made me chuckle quite a bit; it’s always interesting to see things from the other perspective. 🙂

    I gotta say, you’re way more Chinese than my boyfriend is…even though he’s ethnically Chinese 😛


  9. I call my husband a coconut….brown on the outside and white on the inside (married to an American born Indian) –love the blog. It is amazing how much your life really changes when you marry cross-culture


  10. I’m just a Banana Bender from way back…You see I live in Queensland, Australia and the other states of Australia all call Queenslanders Banana Benders. I’m actually not sure why. I just know it is something to do with our supposed colloquialism and our perceived lack of sophistication. I think it’s just jealousy myself. You see we beat all the other states of Australia hands down when it comes to natural geographical beauty. You just can’t beat Queensland’s beaches like we have here on the Gold Coast. We also have the best foot bal players! So banana bender I’ll be proud to be until the day I die!


  11. I got “only” 25 😀 But some of the points mentioned there remembered me of the behaviour of turkish people 😀 For example, they also use packages or jars as Tupperware alternative 😀


  12. It’s funny the names we call ourselves. I was born below the Mason-Dixon Line in the hills so I was a Hillbilly and a southerner by birth. I was raised in the north which somehow made me a Yankee. When I moved south I was still considered a Yankee, and a d–n Yankee because I stayed.
    I’d like to visit Australia one of these days.


  13. Re no 3. I panic when I am down to my last 10 rolls of toilet paper and then I remember I have another 72 in the garage storage. As for 14, I thought this was just plain common sense – my undersink cabinet is so full of shopping bags, I can’t find the detergent anymore.


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