Ear­li­er this week, Michael Levy wrote about Jews and Chi­nese food and what Chi­nese peo­ple think about Jews. He has been blog­ging all week for the Jew­ish Book Coun­cil and MyJew­ish­Learn­ing.

Cen­tral Chi­na is a strange place. Unlike the glob­al­ized, west­ern­ized cities on the coast, the land-locked, impov­er­ished provinces of the inte­ri­or rarely get for­eign vis­i­tors. These provinces are home to the laobaix­ing, or old hun­dred names,” a euphemism for the bil­lion-or-so Zhou Six Packs I got to know while serv­ing as a Peace Corps volunteer.

Among the laobaix­ing, for­eign­ers are assumed to be mis­sion­ar­ies. This is because most of them aremis­sion­ar­ies: Mor­mon, Catholic, Sev­enth Day Adven­tist, you name it. There’s not much rea­son to vis­it places like Guizhou, so most peo­ple go only if God tells them to.

The result is a blan­ket assump­tion among the locals that white folks are all Chris­t­ian. Do you love Jesus?” was often the first thing a new friend would ask me. This would be fol­lowed by can you use chopsticks?”

I can use chop­sticks. But I do not love Jesus. Nope,” I would always reply when asked if I was Chris­t­ian. I’m Jewish.”

This would always result in stunned silence. The leg­end of the Jews has pen­e­trat­ed all parts of Chi­na. Ah!” I would hear. A Jew! Just like Com­rade Karl Marx!” I would nod, and wait for the line that would always fol­low. And Einstein.”

So it was that I was imbued with a pati­na of Com­mu­nist puri­ty and math­e­mat­i­cal genius.

These stereo­types earned me a lot of respect in Chi­na. They earned noth­ing but a look of dis­gust when I men­tioned them to my wait­er in Bud­dha Bodai on Mott Street in the Man­hat­tan Chi­na­town. Marx was as bad as Hitler,” he told me before head­ing off to place my order. Bud­dha Bod­dai has a Kosher cer­ti­fi­ca­tion hung proud­ly in their win­dow, and they do a sur­pris­ing­ly good job com­bin­ing Jew­ish and Chi­nese tra­di­tions. My Marx-hat­ing wait­ed brought me a deli­cious Gen­er­al Tsao’s chick­en,” a pass­able shrimp” dumpling, and a won­der­ful­ly spicy veg steak with Chi­nese broccoli.”

When I fin­ished eat­ing, my wait­er offered some part­ing words: Marx real­ly hurt Chi­na, but I don’t blame Jews. Actu­al­ly, you guys are my biggest tip­pers.” He smiled and head­ed back towards the kitchen.

So keep tip­ping well, my Jew­ish broth­ers and sis­ters. It will save us all a lot oftsuris.

Michael Levy’s Kosher Chi­nese: Liv­ing, Teach­ing, and Eat­ing with China’s Oth­er Bil­lion is now available.

Michael Levy is an edu­ca­tor, writer, and trav­el­er, who cur­rent­ly teach­es in Brook­lyn, New York, at Saint Ann’s School. Levy returns fre­quent­ly to Guiyang to check in on his stu­dents and vis­it the bas­ket­ball courts where he momen­tar­i­ly attained star­dom. While in the Unit­ed States, he keeps strict­ly kosher. While in Chi­na, he eats any­thing with four legs except the table.