May. 2nd, 2011

kake: The word "菜單" (Chinese for "menu") in various shades of purple. (菜單)

Just a quick post today, following up on last week's concept post in which I mentioned a few reasons why knowing some Chinese menu vocabulary is worthwhile, despite the very welcome trend in restaurants towards providing English translations. Here are some more!

Cookery programmes.
I am a huge fan of 天天飲食, a daily 10-minute cookery programme shown on China Central Television (and uploaded by other fans to YouTube, where I watch it). It's subtitled in simplified Chinese. I can't understand most of the dialogue, but I can understand the names of ingredients, which often helps when I'm trying to figure out exactly what they're doing.
Recipes not in English.
Sometimes, the only recipes I can find for a given dish are in Chinese. Happily, my Chinese vocabulary is generally sufficient to fill in the gaps left by Google Translate. Not to mention that my knowledge of Chinese dish names is the only way I managed to find these recipes in the first place.
Chinese menus in non-Anglophone countries.
[personal profile] marshtide recently posted about a vegan Chinese restaurant in Stockholm. To my surprise, even though I don't speak Swedish, clicking through to the restaurant's website, I could understand the menu because it was in pinyin as well as Swedish.
Finding ingredients in Chinese supermarkets.
Being able to read the labels is always handy. Also, last week, I was shopping in Loon Fung and couldn't find the fermented black beans. I asked an employee, who couldn't work out what I wanted; he asked a colleague, who was similarly baffled. I decided to be brave, and said "豆豉" — they understood me immediately! And led me directly to the product I wanted!

Finally, although I wouldn't exactly say this is necessarily useful, I have found that I've acquired an unexpected fluency in Chinglish.

If you have any questions or corrections, please leave a comment (here's how) and let me know (or email me at See my introductory post to the Chinese menu project for what these posts are all about.


December 2012


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