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May 06, 2006

Jade Rice

I have had the hardest time learning any Mandarin. I think the problem is that I can't remember sounds very well. I remember being very frustrated in high school that my french reacher expected us to memorize new vocabulary without writing it down. I know, the idea is to reduce mispronounciation that could result from writing things down... However, the first thing I do when I hear a new word is try to write it down, mentally. That, of course, does *not* work with your average Chinese language.

On the other hand, I am fascinated by the written language, and try to recognize and make sense of anything I see written. I remembered form my Taiwan trip that the characters for "Small Heart" mean "Careful" -- makes a lot of sense!

A stop at McDonalds provided much more entertainment along those lines. (And *why* did I go to McDonalds -- well, I love chocolate, and that's very hard to get in China. Believe it or not, McDonalds chocolate sauce on ice cream is the closest I have found... Very very sad and alarming)

Anyway -- for some reason, boiled and undoubtedly canned corn a la airline food seems be the latest with Chinese kids at McDonalds. With some local help, I managed to decipher McDonald's description of this precious miracle of western cuisine. The red characters  above the cup in the pictures are made up of common components I had mostly seen before and mean:

 "(tung, sweet) (rice plant, sun) (jade) (rice grain) (tree, not) (small)"

Of course, I was repeatedly told that I am not supposed to think of them that way, but somehow this makes it easier to remember for me. So -- tung, sweet is obviously sweet flavor. Rice plant, sun, I am told, means something like "good smell". Ok, I can see that, sort of.  Jade rice grain means corn; a beautiful description, really, except that it makes me wonder what peas are called. The "tree not" =cup is proof that I am out of my mind trying to make these types of connections, and "small" of course refers to the serving size. It's nice to *not* be in supersize land.

Apologies to 1.3 billion people for butchering their beautiful language... but if nothing else, taking things apart like certainly helps explain the occasionally very entertaining translations to english that originate on this continent. ...

As tempting as the corn might have been, the oysters next door, barbecued and served right on the sidewalk in enormous quantities, were infinitely better, and went very well with the bean curd skin and cilantro salad.

I think I like it here..


Posted by rick at 06:06 AM | Comments (0)