Chinese beer: getting the name right matters

Today I ate at J.W. Chen’s in South Bend, Indiana.  After being seated, the waitress asked if she could bring me something to drink.  I ordered the standard Chinese beer imported to the US, “Tsingtao” but used the standard Mandarin pronunciation for 青岛 which is Qīngdǎo.  A little later, the owner/chef came out of the kitchen, sat down at my table, asked me what kinds of Chinese food I liked, and suggested a couple of dishes not on the menu.  Something similar happened to me a while back at an Asian restaurant in Richmond, where I was eating lunch with my then boss.  I again ordered Qīngdǎo.  Shortly thereafter, the waiter broght out eating utensils for us, a fork for my boss, and chopsticks for me.  Chinese people are so surprised (and delighted) when Westerners try to speak their language and even occassionally get the tones right (a rare occurrence for me), that their perception of you and attitude may change significantly.

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