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I am reading a book "Wild Ride" by Adam Lashinsky about Uber and came across the following sentence: "Kalanick appeared on WEF panels moderated by Western and Chinese broadcasters, gamely attempted to flip a traditional pancake over an intimate dinner with the managers responsible for Uber’s local operations in Tianjin, and huddled with his entrepreneurial peers."

And I can't understand the meaning of the phrase in bold. Would highly appreciate it if someone could help me to figure it out.

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    Well, of course, I did some research in online dictionaries and Google in general. I know that "to flip" means "to move into a different position", to flip one's pancake = "to delight", "to inspire", but I cannot figure out a meaning in this particular context, otherwise, I wouldn't ask. Does that mean that he tried to inspire his local managers? Why then "traditional pancake"? Because he usually tries to inspire people? I am not a native speaker and sometimes cannot grasp all the shades of meaning, that's why asking for help.. – hope_clearwater Jun 5 '17 at 9:48
  • It stumped me. But maybe it helps to note that the phrase is likely, "over dinner," rather than, "flip . . . pancake over." Did the context of the dinner discussion involve some sort of table-turning? When a situation reverses itself, and someone with an upper hand ends up below, it might be so called. – H. David Jun 5 '17 at 10:20
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To flip a pancake has no special figurative meaning that I am aware of. I would assume that at the dinner that he attended with the managers, pancakes were being cooked, and he literally tried to flip one of them. That is, while holding a pan, he made a motion with his wrist causing the pancake to fly in the air and land on its other side. Or at least he "attempted to", as the text says.

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    Hm, I'm somehow not sure that was the case, as the whole event was held at the hotel during a conference, and it's difficult to imagine that there was a cooker and a pan, and the businessmen did really flip the pancakes..I don't know.. I found this link dictionary.com/browse/flip-one-s-pancake where it says that it means "to inspire", but then - why "traditional pancake"? Did he try to inspire his local managers, as he usually does? Or were they really flipping pancakes, as you suggest? – hope_clearwater Jun 5 '17 at 9:53
  • I think @dangph is correct. When you look at the wider context books.google.co.uk/… the section is about 'image enhancing' moments and , and this was a dinner with Uber local managers so not necessarily a very formal event. A 'street-food' theme with jianbing is perfectly likely. – Spagirl Jun 5 '17 at 11:18
  • @hope_clearwater, it was "traditional pancakes", I would guess, so that the reader wouldn't picture western pancakes in their mind. They were not far from Beijing, so who knows, maybe it was even Peking Duck with pancakes. That is delicious. – dangph Jun 5 '17 at 12:44
  • @dangph, interesting, thank you very much for your input. For some reason, literal pancake flipping was the last thing on my mind when I read that passage, but it must have been just that. Thanks again! – hope_clearwater Jun 5 '17 at 13:24

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