What's Chinese for "Chocolate Milk?"

Life Lesson #325: Asians Don't Drink Much Chocolate Milk*

*Which brings us to Life Lesson #326: That's Probably Why We're Fatter Than They Are

We went to an Asian buffet for supper last night and ran into a bit of a ... communication glitch. I shouldn't have been surprised - I mean, the sign above the macaroni and cheese said "Cheese Plane" - but it caught me a little off guard.

I've lived in a country where English isn't the primary language (Germany, if you were wondering) - so I know, at least somewhat, what it's like to be confused by things not said/sung/written in my native tongue. One time - in response to a German bartender's question of, "How are you?" - I accidentally answered "I'm horny." (How was I supposed to know that "Ich bin heiß" doesn't actually mean "I'm hot" as in, "I'm sweaty 'cause it feels like a sauna in here?") So don't get me wrong ... I'm not hatin'.

When my kids asked if they could order chocolate milk, the waiter answered with a rather emphatic yes. Almost like in an, "Oh yes, chocolate milk is our specialty" way. So that's what they ordered. While we were waiting on the drinks, I went ahead to the buffet to load up a plate for my dudes - because the longer their mouths are full, the less time they have to say embarrassing stuff.

I came back with the plates to find Curtis and Colin both scowling into Colin's styrofoam cup. "Look at this," Curtis said.

"What's the problem?" I asked, leaning over. "It's just chocolate --" I peered into the cup.

" --water," I finished. Because sure enough, Colin's drink made skim milk look like heavy cream. A few melting ice cubes floated on the top, making the brown liquid look even more watery.

"I wonder if they water it down to save money, because most kids don't notice?" Curtis murmured. "I'm sending it back."

He took one of the cups to the server's station where several of the waitstaff were hanging out. I saw him talking, and then they all looked at the chocolate "milk." Pretty soon, he was back at the table, sans cup. "She's bringing us more," he told the boys.

Before long, here came a waitress with three new cups. "Here you go! Sorry 'bout that!" she apologized. "All okay now?"

Curtis looked in the cup.

More chocolate water.

"But - this is ..." he gestured to the cup. "This is still watery."

"Noooo!" the waitress chirped cheerfully. "Seeeeee? I no put ice in this time."

We must have looked very confused (we were) because she elaborated in broken English. "I take little bit hot water, little bit cold water, still warm, so add ice last time, make it cold ..."

And it was like, *insert cricket chirps here* while Curtis and I just looked at each other, unsure as to what we should say.

Finally she said, "Here, I show you!" and scuttled away from the table. When she came back, she was holding ..............

......... an economy-sized canister of Swiss Miss hot cocoa mix. The flavor? Milk Chocolate. Which, I'd be willing to bet, they were mistaking for "chocolate milk." And then it all made sense: the talk of adding hot water, adding cold water, the reason for the melting ice, the mysterious floating lumps.

"Ohhh, you're supposed to use chocolate syrup," Colin piped up knowingly.

Yes. Chocolate syrup. And maybe even some milk next time.

We just nodded our understanding ... what could we say? They weren't trying to stiff us, they were just confused. So we accepted the not-so-hot chocolate, even though there was no way the kids were going to drink it.

Well, except for Cameron. But he eats toilet paper, so ...


  1. OMG! At least you figured out what the heck they were serving you. This will be a "remember when" for the rest of your lives. :)

    My husband has one that comes up every time a 'miscommunication' at an asian type restaurant happens. They once asked for some appetizer plates as little dishes. The excited server (why do they get SO excited?) ran away and came back a while later with a plate with two little FISHES on it. Little dishes = little fishes. HA! So, whenever you have a weird situation arise, you will say, "Ah, chocolate milk" like we say, "Ah, little dishes". LOL

  2. Jessica Armstrong LasaAugust 4, 2011 at 11:11 AM

    that's cute! and hilarious that you told a German you were horny. I am wondering what his reaction was now....

  3. That's funny. Following you from http://twistedmummy.blogspot.com/ I was just in Germany and my boys ordered what they thought were "hot dogs". They were large weiners, with some sort of yellow (not mustard) stuff and some crispy bits on them. Didn't go down well.

  4. That's hilarious! I'm not sure what I would have done in that situation.

  5. ".......because the longer their mouths are full, the less time they have to say embarrassing stuff."

    Yes, keep their mouths full so they don't blurt out in Chinese that they're horny!


  6. I wonder why no one has explained this to them? And how many people have acted anygry instead of trying to figure out (as you guys did) what was actually going on? I kinda feel bad for them. But I agree, it will be a great family joke for years to come!

  7. Funniest post I've read in a long time. I found myself hysterical with tears running down my face!!!


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