"Eating Chinese Food Naked" Essay

1095 words - 4 pages

From French crullers to soup and ribs food is a key ingredient to the relationships in Mei Ng's novel, "Eating Chinese Food Naked." Stuck in a family with lack of affection, Ruby, a Chinese American college graduate struggles to finding who she is. Her problems with her family, boyfriend, job, and sexuality escalate to this books theme with food. As a way to escape from difficulties each character uses food as a distracting device from daily life. From the beginning of the story problems are relevant in Rudy's parents, Bell and Franklin marriage. Being forced into an arranged marriage, Bell feels out of place and Franklin feels obligated to teach her the "American way." When Bell asks Franklin if America has rice, Franklin says " I bet you never ate this before. This is cheese and it's the best food in America. Everyone loves cheese there. They got it from the Italians. Wait till you try pizza," (NG 30). Franklin than takes a bite of his sandwich, but Bell refused and looked away. This shows a lot of resentment towards being forced to change her ways of life to fit his. She is sadden at the fact that she knows things will never be the same like how it was in China. Another example of why she felt resentment against Franklin is when she went to the store to buy cookies he made fun of her for ordering "Two quarter pound cookie," (NG 33). When she thought about going to English school at night he thought selfishly, " At school, there were plenty of men who thought nothing of seducing young wives away form their husbands," (NG 33). There is no trust or sympathy in this relationship. Its like he is trying to isolate her from the world outside for the fear of losing her. Franklin and Bell are not the only two who's relationship is focused around food. Ruby and her boyfriend, Nick, use food as a defining element in their relationship. Ruby gets upset when they order food from Hunan Delight. "He was eating all the good meaty bits and leaving the bony parts for her. This made her quiet, and felt sad suddenly that she loved a man who took the good bits for himself," ( NG 234). The succeeding sentences described how Ruby and her mother would share the good bits. Ruby feels it is important in any relationship to share and provide for each other. Not only does food define Rudy and Nick's relationship, it is also was used as a lure. Just like putting a worm on a hook to catch a fish, Nick uses food as bait for Ruby. "Frozen drinks, want a Margarita? I'll make you one. You want cookies? I got cookies, chocolate chip Macadamia nut," (NG 89). Nick is trying to persuade Ruby to come over by using food. This shows his insecurities about their relationship because there must be lacking something if the only way she'll want to come over is by tempting her with food. ...

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