Learn to eat your rice…

Background on informant: Informant is a senior at USC studying computer science. She comes from a Chinese family and speaks Chinese.

Informant: My mother would regularly tell me to not leave any rice left in my bowl. I would ask, well why it’s just another little pellet in my bowl. For every rice pellet that you leave in your bowl, that’s another scar on your future husband’s face. So I made sure to keep my bowl clean. Now it’s just as a matter of habit. I guess. You just want to have a clean bowl. I don’t know where she picked it up specifically but it’s a general thing. I’ve heard friends say it too. Nobody wants pockmarks on their husband’s face.

Analysis: I found this to be a very interesting piece of folklore, a belief that I legitimately had never heard of. It definitely highlights some interesting aspects of society, such as a predetermined bond between husband and wife before they have even met. It teaches that the actions have one can have an effect on the actions of another. In a sense, the belief is extremely communal. You must eat your food so the other person is saved from getting scars on his face, which you also have a vested interest in not seeing have happen, as the informant says: “nobody wants pockmarks on their husband’s face.” Moreover, the belief inculcated a good habit, to eat all of your food, which for the informant is something she still does to this day. “You just want to have a clean bowl,” she said.