One day last week I decided to eat lunch at my desk in the office. Restaurants in the shopping mall nearby are so crowded and noisy at lunchtime, and I just wanted to eat something quick and keep working. I popped down to the mall basement to get a "take-away" bowl of mixian (rice noodles with beef in a spicy soup). It's the ultimate cold weather lunch. The restaurant put it in a nice plastic bowl with a lid and off I went.
I sat back down at my desk and dove in. A few minutes later a Chinese colleague who sits at a nearby desk came over and asked me if I wasn't enjoying the noodles. The conversation went something like this:
Her: Don't you like those noodles?
Me: I love them. They're my absolute favorite. Why do you ask?
Her: Well, you're not making any noise. You're not slurping, so I thought maybe you didn't like them. You know we're taught that it's good to make noise while eating noodles. It's a sign that you are enjoying them."
Me: And we're taught that slurping and making noise while eating them is not polite.
It was those pesky ancestors again. She has several thousand years of ancestors whispering in her ear "slurp the noodles, slurp the noodles." I have several hundred years of ancestors whispering in my ear "don't slurp the noodles, don't slurp the noodles."
Next time I'm having a bowl of noodles I will make sure everyone in the room can hear me!