This is why your TikTok FYP is all people talking about British Chinese takeaway
"Did anyone order a Chinese?" Is it just us or has everyone's TikTok FYPs been take over by videos of people unboxing their Chinese takeaways? Chicken balls, egg fried rice, and curry sauce – it seems our TikTok feeds cannot escape the delights (or confusions, depending on what side of the pond you're on) of a classic British Chinese takeaway.
The Chinese takeaway unboxing has been growing in popularity on TikTok for the last few months, with UK-based creators such as @Corysworldd, @Charlyannec and @laurenkategriffiths gaining millions of views on their videos that run through their Chinese food orders. The associated hashtag "chinesetakeaway" is rising in numbers with 278.5 million views.
As well as making you very hungry, there's something extremely comforting in watching people unbox and plate up their takeaways. Waiting in anticipation to see if they have a similar order to you, filled with the tasty delights we British people have all grown up with, like salt and pepper chicken or crispy chilli beef. The TikTok algorithm is v precise.
Up until recently, it's simply been everyone's cravings for Chinese food that's made the TikToks so popular. However, an American TikToker has created a now-viral video, sparking debate after she expressed her confusion over the ingredients of a quintessential British Chinese takeaway.
In her video, creator Soogia questioned why her FYP was filled with British people referring to their food as "as a Chinese" as opposed to "Chinese food".
She said: "Is it just me or is your FYP also almost exclusively British people eating Chinese food too?
"This is no hate to them whatsoever. I know it’s not intended to be racist, but it feels like it is a little bit. It’s like that prompt that’s like ‘tell me something that isn’t racist but feels like it is’ it feels like that. It feels so strange that they all call it 'a Chinese'."
Soogia went onto explain in America they say: "‘Chinese food’ like we do all other foods like ‘I’m going to go for Greek food, or Mexican food or Italian food'."
She then went onto question the actual foods included in a British Chinese takeaway, saying she had never heard of chicken balls and didn't understand the obsession with curry sauce.
Soogia ended her video saying: "If they love it fine, I just know there’s such a beautiful world of Chinese food out there." She also added she would be down to try a British Chinese takeaway. It's been viewed over 2.6million times and been stitched countless times by other people for debate. Namely, to demystify the elements of British-Chinese cuisine, and whether saying "a Chinese" is racist.
Ordering "a Chinese" has become a staple part of British culture – hangover cures, CBA meals, Saturday night in front of the TV dinners.
Many TikTok creators took to their pages to explain that saying "I'm having a Chinese" is classic British slang, and is an abbreviation of "a Chinese takeaway", which is a count noun, as in it refers to one thing. This explains why the "a" is used. In the US, they refer to it as 'takeout' largely, which is a mass noun, as it references multiple things.
The original TikTok creator Soogia has since responded, following up in a new TikTok stitched to someone explaining the difference, saying she now understands why we refer to it as "a Chinese". However, she also added the reason she finds hearing "a Chinese" so difficult is because in America it is often used as a way to "strip someone of their humanity". She emphasised she wasn't calling the creators in her original video "racist" as the creators have now revealed they have been subject to abuse on their TikToks.
She explained: "When someone refers to a person as ‘a Chinese’ or ‘a Mexican’ it is almost always in an effort to strip that person of their humanity because they’re not saying ‘a Korean person’.
"I definitely do not think any of the three people that I showed in that video are racist."
Even if we may know how in the UK what we're referring to as "a Chinese", it's important to note the difference and how it may feel to others.
The actual food is also throwing Americans – including Soogia – into a loop, but let's explain, as people in the UK and lovers of chicken balls and dousing everything in four different sauces. Some U.S TikTokers expressed confusion at menu items like prawn crackers, salt and pepper chips, and once again, the curry sauce. Others are even perplexed by the plastic tupperware the takeaway arrives in, as they're used to the paper boxes.
British Chinese food is not authentically Chinese, per se. It's made to be sold to British customers, altered and influenced by the culture it's part of. Often, a Chinese takeaway will be the only food delivery or pickup option in a rural area town, so it'll often offer a variety of options to cater to mass tastes – enter salt and pepper chips and curry sauce in a vast array of shades poured over the entire plate. Chinese takeaways in the UK have been the grounds for serious innovation and adaptability in British food culture – calling it disgusting or inauthentic just isn't right, as noted by Takeaway: Stories from a childhood behind the counter author Angela Hui.
Since Soogia's video was released the comment section was flooded with people defending the British Chinese takeaway, and honestly we don't think we've seen the British people united on anything since, well, never.
We may not be good at a lot of things, but we know a good takeaway when we see it.
Now, anyone for a chicken ball?
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