Another bit of shorthand was “the half-eaten peach”:
[One] day Mizi Xia was strolling with the ruler in an orchard and, biting into a peach and finding it sweet, he stopped eating and gave the remaining half to the ruler to enjoy. ‘How sincere is your love for me!’ exclaimed the ruler. ‘You forgot your own appetite and think only of giving me good things to eat!’
I like this one. Back in those days I imagine the product of the peach tree was less uniform. Pick two peaches and the chances of them both being delicious is not great. If you luck out and get a yummy one there’s that much more incentive for polishing it off. And you are that much more generous for sharing the treat.
I don’t like the “half-eaten” part of the phrase, though. “The saved peach”? Maybe … “The selfless peach”? … Neh … I’ll have to think on it.
source: Passions of the Cut Sleeve: the male homosexual tradition in China by Bret Hinsch