Friday, 12 June 2009


This post is in reply to an email I received this morning. ‘Am I Oriental or Asian?’

Well I’m totally au fait with both, as well as being red, amber, green and smurfy blue. But I’m first and foremost a Londoner.

On a more foodie issue, I had this for dinner this evening. Vermicelli stir-fried with chicken, vegetables, shrimps, egg and fish-cake. It was free and with thanks to Bali Bali restaurant.
I don't on principle review restaurants or cafes that provide yours truly with freebies. There was however one place I did write about that was precisely the case, but it has since been removed from the blog.


kerstin said...

Remember we had that discussion. I was calling 'oriental' people Asian. You said I should use the term 'oriental'.
On Twitter I see that some don't like that term...foodieguide for instance.
I suppose Asian in Britain often means Indian sub-continent.
I used the term Asian because I learnt that in the States where they used to have less people from the Indian sub-continent.
All I know is that they like their food!

Anyway...who sent you the email?

bellaphon said...

MML- Asians in the UK stipulate and has been accepted as describing the good folks from or of (origin) the "Indian Subcontinent". Both Andy Pipkin and Vicky Pollard couldn’t tell any differences between a Chinese, Japanese, Korean or perhaps even a Kazakh person; so as far as this group is concerned, the term Oriental is appropriate. And yes there are more ‘Asians’ than ‘Orientals’ residing here in the UK, obviously someone in the Home Office or the press decided it was a good idea (years ago) to rewrite the word Asian. However outside Blighty, all Orientals are Asians and the people of the Indian Subcontinent are somewhat more clearly defined as either Indian, Paskistani, Bangladeshi, etc. The person who sent me the mail wished to remain anonymous and alerted me to Twitter.

This is a food blog, Dehesa?

tehbus said...

Im not proud but I think I kicked this off through an inadvertent mention on Twitter. I think the term Oriental is considered derogatory in the US but I personally dont find it insulting in any way. To me, it specifies a region within a very large continent, very much like "Scandinavia" specifies a region in Europe. Good to hear your thoughts on this. Hope I didn'y annoy too many people!

bellaphon said...

Tehbus- Hey, thanks for stopping by. It takes an awful lot to offend me, just don't nag on me with my return to the indurate habit of smoking!

This is a food blog, Dehesa?

Helen said...

Yeah I was in the conversation on Twitter yesterday. I have used the term 'Oriental' in a blog post. I'd heard the term was widely used in the UK when I studied such things as part of my masters and also I'd seen other bloggers using it so I felt bad yesterday when foodieguide and supercharz said they found it offensive. I had absolutely no idea and I'll use the term 'Asian' from now on. From a fellow Londoner :)

meemalee said...

Helen, I think it's more complicated than that - it's historical - to do with migration.

In the US, Asian means Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese people etc, because those are the dominant Asian peoples over there.

And in the UK, Asian means Indian, Bengali, Pakistani people etc, because those are the dominant Asian peoples over here.

So if you described a stranger as Asian in the UK, 99% of listeners would assume you meant someone from Indian, Bengali, Pakistani people.

So as a Brit, I identify myself as Oriental - personally I think the word is beautiful.

And if you called me Asian, I would think you were mad or from abroad.

Weirdly though, Asian as applied to food in either the US or the UK means Japanese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese.

bellaphon said...

Helen- please feel free to use the word Oriental as far I'm concerned. You see if you said bellaphon was Asian, which I am and I'm not. As for the latter, most members of the British public would then expect my surname to revolve around the likes of either a Ghosh or Ali; well it isn't. I'm very Oriental as well as a happy and shiny Londoner. Thanks.

meemalee- that makes two us. Beautifully clarified, thank you. Are you a lawyer?

This is a food blog, I'm off to Dehesa for lunch tomorrow. If you wish to see my mug face then I might grant you an audience.

meemalee said...

Please can we see your mug face?

As for whether I'm a lawyer or not - no comment ...

By the way, I think your Word Verification Bot hates me.

The past three times I've tried to comment it gave the words "scrote", "phlegm" and "whines".

bellaphon said...

meemalee- No probs, bring thirty quid with you as Dehesa is not exactly cheap. I agree with you on the verification procedure, bloody annoying!

meemalee said...

You meant actual live audience in person?

I'd love to, but I'll have to take a rain-check - I'm spending the day with my parents tomorrow and taking them to see the new Terminator - no lie :)

Enjoy Dehesa and eat loads on my behalf ...

bellaphon said...

Meemalee- Blowout lunch with MsMarmite at Dehesa today. Uploading pics later. No fans turned up ;(

kerstin said...

Oh I missed this debate. I guess I was cooking. Lunch at Dehesa was divine.
I think the word Oriental is gorgeous and we are Occidental. If I'm in Asia, I refer to myself as Western.
I think using the word Asian probably is a bit confusing in Britain.
Have we come up with an acceptable word?
Er..Southeast Asian? It's a bit complicated.

Anonymous said...

LoL! I like to refer to myself as yellow - according to one of my workmates, it's not very politically correct...

...I say it's fine! :D

bellaphon said...

MML- You're Occidental and I'm accidental. And please no South East Asian; peeps will start quizzing me with questions like are you from Manila or does it snow where you come from?

CB- I hate PC, it only breeds more contempt or hatred in this country! If you're what you described yourself as, then hey sis!