Cartoon Traffic

30 Jan 2005

Bruno Bozzetto has managed to create several highly amusing Flash cartoons with only the simplest of drawings. Watching his “Yes and No” (traffic do’s and don’ts) and “Europe and Italy” (general observations of society), I couldn’t help but make a connection to China. Those two are both worth a look.

Via Screenhead.

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John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.

Comments

  1. Neat work! I watched ’em all.

  2. Da Xiangchang Says: January 30, 2005 at 7:55 am

    Excellent stuff, esp. the EU vs. Italy toon. Highly creative. John, maybe you can make one for US vs. China. That would totally rock!!!

  3. I think that a Japan vs. China one would be even better. =O

  4. China and Italy seem to have some eerie similarities! Food wise, noodles. Culture wise, I’ve also heard that family is very important in Italy (and I’m not talking about the Mafia).

  5. Mafia, too. And dark hair.

  6. Da Xiangchang Says: February 1, 2005 at 9:28 am

    Yeah, they share noodles, but let’s face it, food-wise, Italian food is FAR INFERIOR to Chinese food. I mean, Italian food is pretty famous, but it seriously lags behind the sophistication, breadth, and variety of Chinese cuisine.

    However, I think culture-wise, Italians probably have the Chinese beat. I mean, what country can beat Italy in terms of culture? Unlike most other countries, Italy was both great in antiquity (Rome) and the modern era (the Renaissance). By great, I mean, among the best of its era. Some countries were ONLY great during the ancient times (Greece, China, Egypt), and some only in the modern era (France, Britain, America), but only Italy was BOTH. (Of course, the modern MODERN era hasn’t been too great for Italy. It’s been ruled by a succession of bald, thuggish-looking leaders, from Mussolini to Berlusconi!) Eventually, however, I think China will eclipse Italy in terms of culture once China becomes developed and dazzles the world with its own cultural renaissance. But that’ll probably be in 50 years or so. I’ll still be alive then, and I can’t wait till I see that!

  7. Indeed there are some similarities between Italian and Chinese: their love for foods, close bond among family and also the bad public manners.

    But one thing the Italian stand out above Chinese, they have a great sense in what is beautiful. They are among those best and most creative designers in the world.

  8. that depends on what looks beautiful to a designer.can’t offer my agreement on the “sense of beauty” issue.

  9. Da Xiangchang Says: February 3, 2005 at 5:34 am

    My sense of beauty:

    Italy: Monica Bellucci when she was young.

    China: Kelly Hu. Okay, okay, she’s not exactly Chinese CHINESE, but she’s hot and gets my vote!

  10. Apparently noodles and pasta were imported into Italy from China … before then they just ate boiled cabbage and pork like the rest of fifteenth century Europe. Tomatoes were imported from South America. IN rural Shaanxi I’ve tasted an awesome spaghetti bolognaise, that’s been their food for longer than the Italians!

  11. Da Xiangchang Says: February 5, 2005 at 7:23 am

    Yeah, Italian food’s pretty good–though I seriously doubt the Italians got the idea of noodles from the Chinese. 😉

    In the ranking of best cuisines:
    1) Chinese
    2) Japanese
    3) Italian

    Worst cuisine:
    1) Italian food in China (esp. the cat vomit they serve at Gino’s Cafe!)

  12. Loved them all and wish I had the computer skills to try make my own,


  13. Anna Grace Says: March 2, 2006 at 2:00 pm

    I agree that there are some similarities between Italy and China, but on the whole they are very different when it comes to personality and culture.
    I totally disagree that Italy has more culture than China. As far as history goes China has Italy beat hands down and, in spite of the extensive culture in Italy, individual Italians today totally lack any sense of culture while the Chinese are very much still connected to their history and culture.
    Nowadays, Italians are very self-centered and unsophisticated while the Chinese are generally very friendly, charming, and well-educated about their country, history, culture, and so on.
    Don’t get me wrong. I like Italy, but China is much more welcoming and interesting.

  14. I have lived in Italy (Milano, Napoli, Sicily) and China (Chengdu, Sichuan). I am a cook, and think I know my job well. Food is a sensitive issue, but I can say that I have eaten well in both countries. It is always a source of pride. I have eaten in many cultures and countries, and EVERY country has at least one dish I think is unique and valid. In my opinion, Italian food is richer in influences and creativity. Chinese food is equally creative, but it lacks the cultural mix so typical and unique to the Mediterranean. ‘Italian food’ (the least homogeneous food in Europe and the Mediterranean) has traces and influences from Asia, Africa, and Europe, making it so unique and flavorful. Chinese food, is well, very…Chinese, although it has big regional differences. It has very few outer influences, making it a more ‘national’ cuisine. While from the outside Italian food is recognizable as ‘Italian’, it is a misnomer–something waiguoren lump together. ‘Italian’ food is so extremely regional, that it is really inaccurate to say ‘Italian’ food. Each region, almost every town has variations and completely different dishes. It would be better to say, generally “Northern Italian” Southern Italian” Sicilian, Sardinian, Romagnola, Neapolitan, Roman, Abbruzzese….the list goes on. Such a small territory and so much variety!!! Incredible, especially considering size. Italy has its own version of cuscus in Sicily, while pasta has been made and eaten since Graeco-Roman times. Rice is eaten in the North, brought over more recently from Asia by the Arabs. What a wonderful palette of colors, influences, and cultures! Italy is a mix, it is many countries in one! Noodles were slowly assimilated in Sicily during the Arab times, when they brought more refined techniques from Asia over to Sicily and helped create modern day pasta–in all its multiple shapes and forms!! It’s not that some guy went over to China one day (Marco Polo!), decided that noodles were tasty, came back to Italy and changed the cuisine of a whole country! This myth is absolutely ridiculous–just think about it. Pasta has been documented in two fases–one in Graeco-Roman Southern Italy, and the other in Arab-Norman Sicily. Italy had various cultures with ancient agricultural techniques, hence their development of pasta and bread, and pizza (the same word as PITA, mind you). All you have to do is read some classical sources ( written LONG before Marco Polo). Suddenly incorporating one specific food (pasta)into a whole peninsula from another continent (Asia) is not likely, without invasions, contacts, etc…it has never happened with food in history. As far as I know, China never invaded Italy, nor had contact, except for ONE man only, Marco Polo, who went there recently (1300s). Pasta has been in the Italian Peninsula and the islands of Sicily and Sardinia for thousands of years. Don’t forget: the ALPHABET I am using (and the Chinese are using for their pinyin and for this blog) also comes from Italy, that is why we call it the ROMAN alphabet. Just a thought on antiquity and simplicity–only 20 something letters are much more practical than thousands of complex (though extremely beautiful : )) characters. In terms of preparation and quality, both cuisines have good stuff to offer. I think that Chinese food, however, tends to mask and kill the natural flavor of products, with sauces, frying techniques, and unnecessary fats, while Italian food tends to leave the product as fresh as possible, not frying as much, but bringing out the natural flavor, 100% Mediterranean philosophy. We might look at comparative architecture as an analogy: what is more beautiful, the Graeco-Roman classical building, such as the Pantheon, the Temples as Paestum (near Naples), or Temples in Agrigento (Sicily), linear, clean, marble, geometrical, essential, no frills, gawdy colors, etc. OR an impressive building like the Summer Palace in Beijin, or the Temple of Heaven, full of colors, dragons, flowers, clouds….? I think with the two countries’ food it is the same thing. When I eat Italian food (NOT Italian-American, mind you!) I KNOW what I am eating. The products of the earth, be it vegetable or animal, already have their own flavor, simple and fresh, like a Graeco-Roman temple. This is Italian food. A Chinese can never appreciate fragrant hot bread with olive oil on top of it. This is the richness of simplicity. What you see is what you’ve got. Chinese food is not always this way. Sometimes I doubt the quality, hygene, and real identity of Chinese food. It tastes like fried pork fat and unrecognizable stuff. Also Chinese food lacks many essential techniques–winemaking (a pan Mediterranean sign of culture, identity, going back to our Western roots in Greece) –red wine and alcohol in general are undrinkable in China, baking (bread, desserts, pizza, focaccia, etc…), culture of coffee (annother eastern influence in Italian food). I think the Chinese are sometimes too arrogant of their culture (and history). From the outside, we think the Chinese tend to appreciate gawdy, loud, crass, color, and quantity OVER quality. Italians, on the other hand. value quality, hygene, eating slowly (the Chinese eat quickly, slurp everything up, and run off–unless of course it is a big meal when everyone drinks, till they are all wasted and passed out, completely lacking decorum, spitting all over the place). Refinement does not mean complexity of sauces, frying, mixing, etc (the French are also fans, like the Chinese, of masking things, hiding the REAL identity of products), it means simplicity and sincerity. Now, having said all of this, I think that Italians and Chinese people love to eat and be with their family. That is the most important observation!!! Refinement lies within, not in the complexity of a dish. Less is more. Viva la pasta! Viva il pane! (Long live pasta, long-live bread!) And viva la-mian! Viva jiao-zi! (Chinese noodles and dumplings)

    PS: I totally disagree with Ann Grace: how can you say that the Italians lack culture!! Even nowadays, their society is so complex, so rich, in such a small area!! Just look at the amount of art, intellect, and how EXPRESSIVE Italians are!!! The Chinese do not know how to express their feelings, they are closed up. Look at how Italians treat their guests, with simplicity, respect, not showing off lavish meals where half the food is swimming in oil plates and is wasted to show off how rich the host is!! Come on! Less is more….

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