Showing posts with label Mandarin Mondays. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mandarin Mondays. Show all posts

Monday, March 4, 2013

Mandarin Mondays: Crnand Open (The Chinglish Files)

Monday, February 4, 2013

Mandarin Mondays: Country Sids of the Sea (The Chinglish Files)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Mandarin Mondays: Silly Stamping Set Instructions (The Chinglish Files)

Click to enlarge photo.
Aaron was quite confused about what we should use to wash the stamps
if we couldn't wash them in water.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Mandarin Mondays: 6 Lethal Points of Safety Checking (The Chinglish Files)

Some of the "Chinglish" mistranslations on signs and other things around here are quite funny. I thought I'd share some of them from time to time here in "The Chinglish Files." Here are the 6 Lethal Points of Safety Checking presented for you amusement only.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Mandarin Mondays;端午節 (Duanwu or Dragon Boat Festival)

This weekend was the traditional Dragon Boat Festival (Duānwǔ Jié, 端午節) here in China. This festival varies year to year according to the traditional Chinese Lunisolar calander, but takes place around the summer solstice when the sun is at its strongest. During this festival people might watch dragon boat races, drink wine, and eat zòng zi (粽子).

This year I was invited to learn how to make zòng zi (粽子), the traditional food of this festival, with some friends. Zòng zi are a packet of extremely sticky rice wrapped in leaves. There are both sweet and savory varieties. We made a savory variety that is popular here in the south, that has meat and salty duck egg yolk inside it.

To make zòng zi (粽子) first you take some leaves (apparently many types of leaves are used) and lay them out, add seasoned rice and any fillings, and then fold and tie the leaves. These packets are then boiled for several hours and the rice becomes one solid glutinous mass. There are many stories about the origin of this festival and zòng zi (粽子). The most popular being that a famous Chinese poet drowned himself when enemies invaded and people threw zòng zi (粽子) into the river to keep the fish from eating his body.

Zòng zi (粽子) can be eaten hot or cold. Andrew is the most fond of this delicacy in our family. He kept asking for more.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Mandarin Mondays: 哥哥 (Older Brother)

Andrew hugging a little brother as they look at the fish
Andrew is growing so fast and seems a lot older lately now that he is speaking in sentences and using the potty quite well most of the time. We've already announced that he has a younger sibling due to arrive on the outside in the fall. But Andrew is already getting called older or big brother (gēge, 哥哥) on the playground.

I've mentioned before that in Mandarin people traditionally use family terms to relate to people even outside their family. This is especially true among children. When we first arrived Andrew was almost always the little brother (dìdi, 弟弟), when we would be out and about. This is in part because they usually don't put kids down to play outside until they can walk well, because well the ground can be dirty from kids playing in split pants. So most of the kids around were his age or older, or they were being carried around constantly and not really interacting.

Now there are different one-year-olds running around, but Andrew is older and much bigger. So now he gets to be the older brother (gēge, 哥哥) to Chinese babies even before he meets his new sibling in the fall and finds out if it is a younger brother (dìdi, 弟弟) or a younger sister (mèimei, 妹妹).

Monday, June 11, 2012

Mandarin Mondays:等一等 (Wait a Little)

One of the things I was told repeatedly on Friday during my visit to the Chinese hospital, for my prenatal visit and some extra tests, was to wait. I was told this in a few different ways, but perhaps most commonly was 等一等(děng yī děng).

This made me think of how this reduplication of words is extremely common in Chinese. They often use the same word twice to add emphasis or feeling to a statement.

In the case of a verb like wait, reduplication usually means that it is something done for a short time or that is or should be easy to do. Adjectives are commonly reduplicated to emphasize this certain quality like good (hǎo hǎo, 好好) or small (xiǎo xiǎo, 小小). There are many other uses as well.

At first reduplication can sound funny to English speakers, because we don't commonly do this. It can sound almost like baby talk. But it is used so ubiquitously in Mandarin that you soon become quite comfortable throwing in reduplicated words into everyday phrases.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Mandarin Mondays: 感冒 (Common Cold)

I mentioned recently that our whole family caught a cold over the weekend. It really isn't anything serious, and our boys already got over it in one day. My husband and I still have the sniffles, but it isn't anything terrible. We're taking extra vitamin C, eating well, and drinking lots of fluids, and we will probably be over this bug shortly.

To the Chinese people though, catching a cold (gǎn mào, 感冒) is a very serious matter. If fact people often go to the hospital here when they catch a common cold. Usually, they are simply given an IV and sent home, possibly with some pear medicine for a sore throat or some other kind of medicine.

Most people also still really seem to believe that having a cold (gǎn mào, 感冒) is related to being cold (lěng,). That is, your internal temperature is too cold (lěng,) and thus you are sick with a cold (gǎn mào, 感冒). There are other diseases that they believe are caused by too much internal heat. One person I know says this includes pink eye. Even people we know who are pretty aware of germs, wash their hands frequently, and take extra precautions when preparing food, will still pile on the sweaters and blankets when they have a cold. It is just the way it works here. And you definitely shouldn't tell any Chinese people that you have a cold if you are wearing anything less than 3 sweaters and a parka, even in the middle of summer, because you will get harshly scolded and tell you to go home and put more clothes on.

I actually find it kind of ironic that the words cold (gǎn mào, 感冒) and cold (lěng,) in English are the same, but different in Mandarin. I would definitely expect it to be the other way around because this belief is so ingrained into their culture.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Mandarin Mondays: 杨梅 (Chinese Waxberry)

While fish heads, chicken feet, and some other delicacies here, may not particularly be our favorites, one thing we do love about the food here is all the different fruit we get to try. This region, because of it's mild climate and long growing seasons, has a exceptional amount of fruit and vegetables all year long. Like most of the world, the people here mostly eat seasonally and locally grown produce, with very little imported. But because of the abundance and variety available in this area, this is very easy to do here and get a well rounded diet and not get bored. We definitely appreciate this about this area because as Americans we are particularly spoiled by the notion that we should be able to have virtually any type of produce at any time of the year. This just isn't the case for most of the world, and many areas of China have vastly different climates and much less variety of produce.

One of our favorite seasonal fruits this time of year is the Chinese Waxberry or Chinese Bayberry. Although since we have only known these in China, we never call them that and only use the Mandarin name yángméi (杨梅). These taste like a cross between a raspberry and a cranberry to us. Our boys absolutely love them, which sometimes surprises the Chinese people, because they can be quite tart.

Recently, Nate took the boys to pick some growing in our apartment complex. This batch wasn't all the way ripe so they were more sour than usual. I ended up boiling, mashing, straining out the pits, and then adding sugar to make yángméi pancake syrup. It turned out great and the boys were super excited with their special pancake sauce.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Mandarin Mondays: 鱼 (Fish)

Last week, a friend of mine taught me how to make steamed fish (yú, 鱼) in a traditional Chinese way. I am not a huge fan of fish, but this was quite good and Andrew (our two year old) couldn't get enough.

First we went to the market so my friend could pick out a fish. After she bought the fish they gutted and scaled it for her.

We took it back to her apartment where she put it on a plate with fresh herbs. She also place a dish with soy sauce and oil on the side. Then this whole plate goes into a wok on a wire rack to keep in elevated out of the water in the bottom of the wok. The wok should already be steaming hot when you put the plate in, and then you simply cover and steam the fish for 9 minutes. It has to be 9 minutes exactly, per instructions. Then you pour the sauce over the fish and eat!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Mandarin Mondays: 下雨 (Rain)

May is usually when the rainy season begins. Right now, many people are hoping that it will begin in earnest soon because we have had a very dry winter (dōng tiān, 冬天) and spring (chūn tiān, 春天). While this made for a very nice mild temperature and climate, the city could use the water. Today was the first rain (xiàyǔ, 下) this May (wǔ yuè, 五月). We'll see if this starts a trend.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Mandarin Mondays: 市场 (Street Market)

In honor of International Labor Day (wǔ yī láodòng jié, 五一劳动节) messing up everyone's normal weekend plans again, I didn't have to tutor on Sunday afternoon. So we went to a nearby street market (shì chǎng, 市场) that is huge, but only there on Sundays. We got some things for our new apartment that are like early birthday presents for me.

You never know quite what you are going to find at these markets. In the past, we've seen cow's heads but passed on purchasing any. You can also find all kind of health cures there, and maybe even get your teeth fixed? Uh, we passed on that too.

Anyway, what we love about this market are the handcrafted items, that are much higher quality than stuff at our Walmart and are difficult to find anywhere else. This time, we got some more blue pots and bamboo baskets. We're using them to hold our fruits and veggies, kitchen towels, and some school and art supplies for the boys. Our dining room looks a lot more organized and happier now.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Mandarin Mondays: 包饺子 (Make Dumplings)

A little while ago, a friend of mine taught me how to make (or "pack") Chinese dumplings (bāo jiǎo zi, 包饺子). I've mentioned before that  jiǎo zi are one of our favorite Chinese foods, so it was neat to learn how to make them.

We bought the wrappers from the market, which was really inexpensive here. I am told the process for making the dough goes something like this: take flour, add water and mix until it feels right, roll it out really thin, and cut into circles. Someday maybe I'll learn more about making the dough but for now here is the recipe for filling and boiling jiǎo zi.

Homemade Jiǎo Zi Recipe

  • Jiǎo zi wrappers
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • several cups chopped green onions
  • several chopped cloves of garlic
  • salt
  1. Mix pork, onions, garlic, and a liberal amount of salt together well in a mixing bowl.
  2. Place a small amount of filling in a wrapper. Wet the edge of the wrapper with a small amount of water. Pinch the edges closed. Technically the jiǎo zi are supposed to have the back side be able to lay flat, the front side pleated, and be able to stand up on their own. However, I couldn't quite get the hang of folding the edges just so, and my less beautiful jiǎo zi still tasted just as good.
  3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, place jiǎo zi in boiling water, and return to a boil. Then you add one bowl of cold water to the pot, and return to a boil again. Repeat adding a bowl of water two more times (for a total of three times), and the jiǎo zi are supposed to be done to perfection. 
  4. Remove, and serve immediately with soy sauce, brown vinegar, and/or hot pepper sauce for dipping.

Jiǎo zi can also be frozen uncooked in a single layer on a cookie sheet and then transferred to a plastic bag for longer storage. They can then be boiled at a later date using the same method above; it just takes a few minutes longer to come to a boil the first time.

    Monday, April 16, 2012

    Mandarin Mondays: 面条 (Noodles)

    A Chinese friend of mine came over last week and showed me how to make some Hainan (Hǎinán, 海南) style noodles (miàn tiáo, 面条). I'll share the basic recipe and method with you, but all amounts are very approximate.

    Hainan style food uses a lot of garlic and green onion, but not a lot of other seasoning or sauces. Traditionally they cook with lard to bring in more meat flavor, without having to use a lot of expensive meat. However, most people now use oil. This dish would traditionally be eaten for breakfast (or maybe lunch). But we like it for dinner as well.

    This dish is very simply, and we liked it a lot. The boys especially ate huge helpings and were thrilled that there were leftovers for the next meal.

    Hainan Style Noodle Soup

    • ¼ cup or more oil or lard
    • 3 cloves garlic chopped
    • 1 cup green onion chopped
    • ½ pound lean pork chopped
    • 1 pound fresh or dried wide rice noodles
    • salt to taste (lots if your trying to get authentic flavor)
    • water
    1. In a large pot (guō, 锅) heat 1–2 quarts of water. Cook noodles if dried or simply wash the noodles if you bought them fresh from the market.
    2. Meanwhile in a wok, known as a "fry pot" (chǎo guō, 炒锅), heat oil or lard. Add garlic, onion, and pork, and fry until brown.
    3. Add noodles and a good amount of water to the wok. Bring to a boil.
    4. Salt to taste, and serve.

    Tuesday, April 3, 2012

    Mandarin Mondays: 清明节 (Tomb Sweeping Day)

    I'm a little late posting a Mandarin Mondays post again, but this week all days are a little off here. And this time it is not just due to our latest blessing, but everyone's schedule in this city is changed. This is because this week is Clear Bright Festival or more commonly known as Tomb Sweeping Day (Qīngmíng Jié, 清明节). In the city, they are only officially supposed to get one day off, but many people work through the previous weekend so they have three "days off" for the holiday this week. This does make sense for those who feel the need to travel a long way for this holiday but can disrupt a lot of schedules too.

    For this traditional festival Chinese, people travel (sometimes a long distance) to return to visit their ancestors' tombs. When they are there, they quickly "sweep" or clear away leaves and overgrowth off of their relatives graves. Then they may offer food and burn "pop-up" houses or other objects to their relatives to sustain them in the next life. This is done by decorating their grave with these items. They may then say a prayer to their ancestors before lighting off fireworks (which they don't clean up) and leaving to repeat the process at their next relative's tomb. How much of these practices is done varies widely by the individual, usually related to their closeness to their ancestors and their ancestors' level of affluence. The more respected and affluent a person, the more ornate their tomb, and generally the more ornately decorated each year as well.

    I must admit that this is one holiday I am quite grateful I don't have to participate in, because my Greatest Ancestor's Tomb is empty.

    Monday, March 12, 2012

    Mandarin Mondays: 冷水 (Cold Water)

    We recently had lunch with Chinese friends at a hot pot restaurant and had hot peanut milk. This made me remember just how rare it is to get cold water (lěng shuǐ, 冷水) or other cold drinks when you you eat out at restaurants.

    This is because Chinese people believe that cold drinks are bad for your health. Specifically, drinking cold drinks is bad for your stomach. However, not drinking cold water in China is actually a good thing because you are much less likely to get sick from drinking hot tea than you are from drinking the tap water (which no one drinks unless its boiled). But it can also make you want to bring your own ice water in the summer.

    Ironically, eating ice cream is considered very healthy in the summer though, so I am not sure why ice water is still unhealthy. Ice cream and anything else cold is of course considered practically lethal in the winter, and almost disappears from some local stores here during colder months.


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