Over 290 million people have watched videos tagged #chinesetakeaway on TikTok's For You page for users in both countries. American indignation over the "dry" and "beige" food dominates these films.
British Chinese food's name is also confusing foreigners. Brits call "takeout" "a Chinese." This wording has outraged and bewildered Americans, prompting Brits to clarify the slang's origins.
Chinese takeaway hauls have been popular on U.K. TikTok for a while, but they appear to be new to the U.S. The debate escalated when American TikTokers @dandydemon and @soogia.1 challenged the use of "a Chinese" in this genre.
"I know it's not meant to be racist, but it just seems like it is a little," Soogia says in a viral video. "Here in the US we call it 'Chinese food' like we do all other foods," she says, asking if Brits call other cuisines "a Greek" or "a Mexican."
Yes, usually. "A Chinese" is used due to grammar variances between the two countries. British English treats "a Chinese takeaway" like a dinner. In the U.S., takeout is a mass noun like food, so this seems odd.
British abbreviate everything, so this becomes "a Chinese," "an Indian" for an Indian takeaway, and "a Full English" for a cooked meal with bacon, eggs, etc.
In a follow-up video, Soogia explained why Americans find the word offensive. "Here, when somebody describes a person as 'A Chinese,' 'A Mexican,' it is almost always in an effort to deprive that person of their humanity," she explains.
British and American Chinese food are so diverse because of the wider population, including other immigrant cultures. In the 18th century, British India brought curry sauce to Chinese takeaways in the UK.
Immigrants, notably in New York, shaped American Chinese food. Because it doesn't mix dairy and meat, it's popular with Jewish communities, and pastrami and corned beef and black truffle egg rolls are Jewish influenced.
That's why American Jewish families still eat Chinese food at Christmas. Despite fries and chicken balls, U.S. and U.K. Chinese dishes share many similarities and differences. Both have thick noodles, fried meats, and sweet, sour, and spicy sauces. Both taste good.