This language is bleatable

Arriving in China for the first time without having ever studied the language is a bit like being shot out of the womb. You can’t speak or read signs, so you’re forced to point and use body language to interact with this strange, new world.

The first time I hailed a taxi in Beijing, I must have reeked of that fresh off the boat smell because the driver immediately began peppering me with questions. He didn’t speak English, and I only understood three Chinese expressions, ni hao (你好, hello) xie xie (谢谢, thank you) and dui (对, correct).

When we came to a red light, he drew the letters U-S-A on the steering wheel and raised his hand, extending his fingers horizontally so his palm was flat like a duck bill. He moved his hand toward me, making a “whiiissshhh” sound as it cut through the air. Continue reading

Land of the free and home of the buffet

I was watching an episode of The Office on Hulu recently when in between segments of the show a commercial for Kentucky Fried Chicken came on.

It was an ad for KFC’s new Cheesy Bacon Bowl. “There’s a reason our KFC famous bowl is famous,” it began. A man leaned into the camera, as if to share a secret. “We put bacon on it.”

Bacon bits rained down into a bowl of fried chicken, cheese, potatoes and gravy. “Everything is better with bacon.”

Anyone who really believes that everything is better with bacon has an eating problem. And America, you most certainly do. Lady Liberty can no longer see her feet, and it isn’t because she’s expecting a little statue in four months.

Feed me Seymour!

Let me give you some perspective. I live in the world’s most populous country, a nation of 1.3 billion where the obesity rate is around 5 percent. You have a population of 311 million people with an obesity rate of greater than 20 percent. You haven’t always been this fat. To get an idea of how quickly you’ve let yourself go, check out an animated map on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website that shows how the obesity rate has exploded from 1985 to 2010. It’s disturbing and will make you pause the next time you think about supersizing your fries. Continue reading