Archive for Language and food

Sauerkraut fish

All right, I know it sounds funny, but it's a thing in Taiwan, as at this Taichung restaurant:

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Confusing coffee and tea: blowing hot and cold

Klaus Nuber, who four years ago sent us this amusing post, "Restaurant logo with a dingus" (5/29/19), has contributed another droll Anekdote.

The following article is in today's Süddeutsche Zeitung, "Kannste knicken?"* (11/23/23) — herewith the second anecdote of three from all over the world:

*VHM:  The meaning of the article title escapes me — can you fold / bend [it]?

Mitten in … Zhejiang

Weiter weg geht es kaum von der Großstadt Peking: Neun Stunden mit dem Zug, dann eine lange Autofahrt die Täler entlang, jetzt ist der Hunger groß. Im Restaurant? Keine Karte, bestellt werden kann, was im Kühlschrank liegt. Ein paar Karotten, zwei Kartoffeln, ein platt gedrückter Tintenfisch. Kommt sofort! Dafür um die Ecke, kaum zu glauben, ein Café! Draußen das ländliche China mit seinen Reisfeldern und Kohlelastern, drinnen brummt die Espresso-Maschine. Der lang ersehnte Schluck, aber was ist das? Der Kaffee – eiskalt! Vorsichtige Frage an den Barista, ob es den auch in heiß gäbe? Sein Blick zunächst: totale Entgeisterung, dann folgt schallendes Gelächter. "Diese Ausländer!", ruft er und alle gucken. "Hört mal her. Jetzt trinken die ihren Kaffee auch noch wie Tee!" So was Amüsantes haben die Menschen hier schon lange nicht mehr gehört. Lea Sahay

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Frog or chicken

From Charles Belov:

While scouting out restaurants on Yelp, I noticed that Harborview Restaurant Yelp page had an item on the menu listed in English as Congee with Bone-in Chicken. However, the menu image, taken in 2022, reads "Congree with stir-fried frog" in Chinese.

This appears to have been corrected on the Harborview Restaurant website. The Dim Sum menu reads Congee with Bone-in Chicken in English and 黃毛鷄粥 (jook with the Chinese version of free-range chicken) in Chinese.

I wonder how the frog got in there. Of course, I've eaten frog at Cantonese restaurants but it doesn't seem to be on Harborview's menu.

Screen print from Yelp:

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Beer Battle Bowls

Mark Metcalf had lunch with his in-laws at a great Cantonese restaurant in Taichung, Taiwan.  They shared a bottle of Táiwān píjiǔ 台灣啤酒 ("Taiwan beer") and were given chilled “Hong Kong style” battle bowls – emblazoned with zhàndòu wǎn 戰鬥碗 ("battle bowl") on the side and with shēng 勝 ("victory") on the inside bottom –  to drink it. Neither Mark nor his son had seen such a bowl before, but according to the owner it’s a Hong Kong thing.

Apparently you can buy them for \$NT6 each online or \$US70 (including postage) for a set of four from Amazon.

Here’s what they look like:

Chinese Traditional Way of Drinking Beer – From the Bowl

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"Tomato sauce" in Cantonese, with a trigger warning

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Wok talk: enlarging the scope

Following up on "Wok talk: a real-life retronym!" (10/16/23), Jim Millward remarks:

My wife (Punjabi background) and her family call the "wok-shaped pan" they use for cooking vegetable or meat dishes "kurai" (that's my phoneticization–it could be aspirated or unaspirated k / g, I'm not good at hearing the difference).  I've seen these and we've got a couple–they are indeed parabolic curved-sided heavier metal pans, though some have small diameter flat bottoms for convenience.   Other pots and pans are called patila.   The dishes, generally, are bartan.  The kurai, she just told me, is specifically the "wok-shaped pan." 

I don't have the tools to look into this, but kurai may be Hindi with Sanskrit origins, possibly related to 锅?

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Wok talk: a real-life retronym!

From François Lang:

Since you're a Sinologist, I thought you might be amused by a retronym that I had to coin.
My wife (59 YO) was born and grew up in Beijing, and came to the US in the 80s to do her PhD at Cornell. Since she's Chinese, the only stovetop cooking vessel she'd ever known was a wok, so she calls any such vessel a wok — whether it's a sauté pan, sauce pan, dutch oven, or stockpot. They're all woks to her.
So…when she uses what we Westerners call a wok, she calls it a "Chinese wok", as opposed to a Western wok!

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Occitan and Oenology

[This is a guest post by François Lang]

Picpoul (AKA Piquepoul, or Picapoll) is a white wine grape best known in the south of France.  The grape is known for its intense acidity, and many wine references claim that its name derives from the Occitan for "lip stinger". But I can't find any justification for this derivation, at least not in online Occitan dictionaries that I've consulted.
Occitan picapol is indeed the name of the grape in question
Pique clearly means "sting", as in modern French piquer and piqûre, but I don't see any link between poul and lip.
"Lip" in Occitan is labia, lavia.
Occitan pọl == Fr poule (hen, chicken)
No entry in the dictionary for poul

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Kimchee is Korean

Not Chinese.  Do you understand?

This has long been a cabbage of contention, but make no mistake about it:  fermented kimchee / kimchi  (gimchi 김치 (IPA [kim.tɕʰi]) (lit., "soaked [in their own juices of fermentation] vegetables") is not the same thing as pickled paocai / pao tsai 泡菜 (lit., "soaked [in brine] vegetables").

Kimchee and paocai are made differently, have different ingredients and spices, and taste different.  To call "kimchee" "paocai" would be like calling "wine" (pútáojiǔ 葡萄酒) "beer" (píjiǔ 啤酒).

Linguistically, kimchee has its own pedigree, of which I will here give an extended account.

Borrowed from Korean 김치 (gimchi), ultimately composed within Korea of Chinese-derived morphemes (chén, submerged, soaked) and (cài, vegetable), i.e. "fermented vegetable". Doublet of kimuchi.


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"Don't speak Japanese loudly outside!"

Advisory to staff of the embassy of Japan in Beijing:

ALPS shori mizu no kaiyō hōshutsu kaishi ni tomonau chūi kanki (2023-nen 8 tsuki 25-nichi)


Warning regarding the start of ocean discharge of ALPS-treated water (August 25, 2023)

Kinō (24-nichi), fusoku no jitai ga hassei suru kanōsei wa haijo dekinai tame chūi shite itadaku yō onegai shimashitaga, ika no ten ni tsuite ryūi shite itadakimasu yō aratamete onegai itashimasu.

(1 ) Gaishutsu suru sai ni wa, fuhitsuyō ni nihongo o ōkina koe de hanasanai nado, shinchōna gendō o kokorogakeru.
(2 ) Taishikan o hōmon suru hitsuyō ga aru baai wa, taishikan shūi no yōsu ni saishin no chūiwoharau.



"Yesterday (24th), we asked you to be careful because the possibility of unforeseen circumstances cannot be ruled out.

 (1) When going out, try to be cautious in your behavior, such as not speaking Japanese in a loud voice unnecessarily.
(2) If it is necessary to visit the embassy, pay close attention to the surroundings of the embassy."

(source) (GT romanization and translation)

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The car hit cheese bacon mushroom face, part 2

Todd Wilbur shared this menu item on Facebook:

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Pork Lion Bone

Seen by François Lang at the meat counter at The Great Wall in Rockville, MD:

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Ta Mother Noodle

Sign on a noodle shop in Xindan, Taiwan:

(Via Google Street View)

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