1925: Marian Arnold’s husband worked for the China Navigation Company and the Insurance Department of Butterfield & Swire. Years later, she reminisced about their time in China.
She remembered in particular a lunch party at a friend’s house. The friend’s Chinese cook was a talented cake maker. The lunch guests were so impressed by his beautifully decorated gâteau that he was summoned from the kitchen and warmly praised. The cook was very flattered. The hostess was very pleased. She asked whether he had iced the cake with the fancy icing set she had bought at a Shanghai department store.
“Oh no missee,” the cook explained, “I not use that, I used one old tooth brush.”
The hostess was aghast.
“Oh missee, not master’s tooth brush,” the cook reassured her, “one old tooth brush of mine.”
Source: Christopher Cook, The Lion and the Dragon: British Voices from the China Coast (1985), p. 55