My crazy Chinese inlaws

My inlaws have been staying with us for quite a long time now, helping us while we take care of our new baby. They’re really great, and I’m glad to have them here. But sometimes they do things that are just so bizarre to me.

They’re old, and they lived through some hard times in China, as did everyone that wasn’t a high-ranking Party member. Very lean times. I guess that explains it. But their thriftiness is just so excessive, I have to laugh at them sometimes. Some of the crazy things they’ve done:

  • They won’t let you throw out a teabag after you use it. She’ll intercept it on the way to the garbage, and try to make another cup of tea with it. Guaranteed to be some really piss-poor tea.
  • When I shut down my charcoal BBQ, she’ll rush out and throw a couple potatoes in there to bake them with the left-over heat. No sense wasting it. Though I suspect the half-baked potatoes would probably be awful.
  • After they boil some noodles, they save the pot of noodle water. Apparently it’s good for cleaning other pots.
  • This morning I caught her washing the string from one of those banana-leaf-wrapped sticky-rice cakes. Presumably she intends to save and reuse the 2ft piece of string.

There are probably more that I’m just not remembering right now.

Update, Oct. 4, 2008

Ok, I owe Mom-in-law an apology. Yesterday we tried her idea of throwing a sweet potato into the Egg after I shut it down. Left it in there while the Egg was cooling overnight. In the morning, we found a pretty nicely baked sweet potato. Ok, so that idea actually works.

4 Responses to “My crazy Chinese inlaws”


  • Just a thought on the re-using teabags. They’re used to Chinese teas… which are (in this regard) a whole different animal from a store-bought teabag. One of my favorite memories from my trip to San Francisco was sitting in a tea shop where they brewed us tea after tea… both to show us the difference between different teas, but also to show us differences between different brew-ings of the same tealeaves. (Some of them peak, for example, after three brew-ings.) We bought some Milk Oolong which Distinctly Tea now carries semi-directly ’cause of us. Anyway, I can tell you first hand from the Milk Oolong that it survives multiple brew-ings – perhaps even spread throughout a long day – just fine. Which, as you’ve noted, is more than you can say for your average store-bought teabag.

  • lol

    I had a good laugh reading this. I’m not sure about all the other stuff but I have to agree with that other commenter about the tea.

    Chinese tea is the whole leaf and it’s actually traditional to make a pot and keep adding hot water as it gets low.
    They have all kinds of different tea but it’s all whole leaf so there really is lots of flavor left after just one brewing.

  • At least they know about you. My sweethearts family would disown him if they knew about me. I have to say though, he also saves everything…I mean everything! Plastic bags, take out containers, 2 liter soda bottles…the list goes on and on…he also keeps the plastic on the remotes and the film on his phone screen.

  • My boyfriends mom is Chinese (grew up in the same type situation where they had to scavenge). She would keep egg shells and make a MASSIVE pile of them in the kitchen…I don’t remember what she used them for, but kinda gross if you ask me.

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