You go drinking with your Asian homies, and there always seems to be one or two guys who start looking like they were out in the sun too long, or just angry as hell! I read this article on the ‘Asian Flush’ and its connection with cancer here. It reminded me that ‘Asian Flush’ is a very common thing amongst East Asian SAMs. Do you get this? Is it just East Asians? No Southeast Asians get Asian Flush? In Japan, they call it sake-yake which translates to alcohol burn or alcohol sunburn.
It’s a weird phenomenon because it has no correlation with how much alcohol you can handle. I’ve met people who drink like fishes while they are flushed, and then there’s guys like me who don’t get flushed but get drunk after two or three beers. I have a friend who gets red with headaches after drinking 1/4 of a beer. Apart from the people who get sick when they have alcohol, it seems that the Asian Flush doesn’t stop people from drinking. I know lots of people feel self-conscious when they turn red, especially women. And, according to the article link, it means that your body lacks an enzyme so a certain chemical in the body accumulates and this is linked with certain cancers. You also can have a racing heart. It’s obvious that it’s not a good sign, but I know lots of Asians who drink anyway. Asians LOVE drinking for the social aspect. It’s part of their culture to pour drinks for each other and let loose after long days of working. When I first went to Japan, my coworkers took me drinking to 4 consecutive bars, and we were up till I think 3am. It was insane for a teetotaler as myself. I threw up in the parking lot afterwards. People in Japan who can’t drink alcohol because it makes them sick often express regret and they feel ‘left out’ .
Not to mention, their food that accompanies alcohol is great! Japanese and Koreans have awesome little dishes at bars like yakitori(skewers), kimchees, topoki, etc. American bars have crappy greasy food that doesn’t enhance the drinking experience one bit. Most bars don’t even serve food, and just have nuts and chips! Lame and unacceptable IMO.
But, I have to say that I’m not a big drinker, and I’m pretty health conscious so I seem to drink less and less every year. Alcohol fucks with your brain, makes you fat, it’s expensive, and it’s also linked to cancer, high blood pressure, and other illnesses. When you get that Asian Flush, your body is basically telling you it can’t handle the booze. So, despite the awesome drinking culture in Asia, I don’t drink if I can help it.