Uneaten Food goes on the Husband’s Face

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Chinese/Vietnamese
Age: 21
Occupation: Student
Residence: Diamond Bar, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/26/20
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Main Piece:

Informant: Maybe another one is that it’s like if I didn’t finish all the rice grains on my bowl then like everything I didn’t finish would end up on my husband’s face. So essentially I’d have, like, an uglier husband, if I didn’t finish all the rice off my bowl.

Interviewer: Wouldn’t a husband with rice on his face, be like a good thing because it’s food?

Informant: It’s not just rice. It’s like any leftover food so I think the idea would be, like that would be like acne. So it’s more to promote not wasting food.

Background:

My informant is a friend and fellow student at USC. She was raised in the LA area but her family is ethnically Chinese and immigrated from Vietnam so she has multiple East Asian influences in her life.

Context:

I had set up a Zoom call with my friend because she said she had some examples of folklore that she could share with me. This sample was shared during that call

Analysis:

This seems like a fairly straightforward superstition to me. Parents want children to finish their food so there’s the motivation. So if a child does not finish their food, it will be transferred to their husband’s face. Even though there is not a strong emphasis, to my knowledge, on the beauty of the groom in traditional Chinese marriages, everyone would prefer a more attractive partner. The idea that it is rice (standing in for acne) that would appear on the husband’s face makes sense as rice plays such a central role in the Chinese diet.