Yesterday I went on a high-speed boat trip ruining my hair, but it was worth it. As soon as we got off the open boat, it started raining like – well, normal Hong Kong style. Nothing special. But going home I felt it safest to put my watch in my bag
If you’re learning Cantonese, 落雨 (Lok Yu, ‘Falling Rain’)is one of the best ways to strike up a conversation. Every time I go out in a downpour carrying a rather large umbrella, several locals helpfully tell me that it’s raining. 早晨！落雨吖！Jo San! Lok Yu Ah! (Morning! Falling Rain!) can often be the beginning of a deep and meaningful conversation about water.
When I first heard or saw 落雨 I looked up the word 落 in the dictionary and saw it meant fall. So imagine my mirth when I spotted the word on the front of a tram! 落車， (lok che) Fall Out of the Car, ha ha, excellent! Then I realised it means ‘descend, come down, get out of’ too. Oh well.
But when it rains various animals like cats, dogs and zebras, (or 落狗屎, lok gau si, Falling Dog Shit as it’s called in Cantonese) there’s only one thing to do! Play cards!
If you want to know more about Hong Kong weather and other things, take a Cantonese course this summer! Now you can take lessons from all over the world, through the excellent medium of Skype
I’m cooking for eight people tonight and I’m really looking forward to it. I will make Beer O’Clock Dumplings,
and Kung Fu Cucumbers,
– among other things. Five other things, in fact.
Now my Sichuan cookbook CHILLies! Sichuan Food Made Easy
八個人 (baat goh yan – eight pieces people)
川菜 (chyun choi – Sichuan food)
功夫 (gong fu – kung fu)
辣椒 (lat chiu – chilli)
It’s Sunday morning and I just finished doing the dishes from yesterday’s Sichuan food blowout extravaganza wonder party. Chilli oil tastes wonderful but is a bugger to get off plates and worktops. But it’s worth the pain – it’s Sichuan food! (川菜，chuen choi, River Vegetable.) River? Yes 川, Chuen, is shorthand for 四川, (Sei Chuen, four rivers).
All the cuisines of China are called Something Choi, the choi 菜, vegetable, also meaning dish or course. Normally the cuisine is named after one of the words in the name of the province, like Fai (徽） for On Fai (安徽 Anhui) and Sou （蘇） for Gong Sou （江蘇 Jiangsu）But for some cuisines they use the ancient, one syllable name of the province, from when it wasn’t a province but a kingdom like 湘 (Seung) and 粵 (Yuet) for Wu Lam (湖南 Hunan) and Gong Dong （廣東 Guangdong) respectively.
So yes, even I have to admit there are some intricacies about the Cantonese language and not all ‘learn it in five minutes without really trying’. But as soon as you know two to three hundred characters everything will reveal itself.
And talking about food and Chinese characters, this is what happens when you translate Chinese transliterations word by word:
Can you guess it? Answers to this website.
And: Take a crash course in ordering from the Chinese menu this week! You’ll thank me for it later. Around 2023.
Hoi hoi, it’s that time of year again when I look in my diary/calendar and re-remember what Good Friday is in Chinese: 耶穌受難節： Jesus experiences difficulties-festival. (Yeso sau laan jit.) Oh what joy. And really – ‘good’ Friday? From a, Easter-y point of view, that of Jesus in particular, can’t see what’s so good about it?
Easter itself is of course called 復活節 Return to Life Festival (Fuk Wut Jit), also very apt. ‘Easter’ – from ‘east’? Wind direction perhaps? As usual, the Chinese have nailed this very western ‘festival’ linguistically. And they do right to concentrate on eating bunny rabbits rather than harping on about Jesus in my opinion.
Because: If Jesus was born on the same day every year, why did he die on a completely different day every year, eh?
Always look on the bright side of life.
Yammmmm! Yam me doooown! That’s right, I don’t spell the word you say when something tastes good, with a U. I prefer the letter A. Take a word like 蚊， (man, meaning mosquito but also dollar). Most of my native English students would spell that ‘mun’. But the next time they read that word, they invariably pronounce it like ‘moon’, presumably because it sounds more Chinese, and also because of the spelling of stuff like Tuen Mun. So I would always spell the ‘AAH’ sound with an A.
So anyway – yesterday. Four guests, four dishes. It was the hottest day of the year so naturally I cooked heavy, starchy and oily food. And after ten years, I think I may have cracked the secret to cooking good Four Seasons Beans （四季豆 sei gwai dau). But I’m not going to share it here. You can read all about it in my next book, Cook It, Sichuan Food Made Easy.
川菜，(chuen choy, Sichuan food), truly is the best in the world, 世界第一 (saigai dai yat, World Number One). I love having guests, it’s the only way I get to taste a lot of dishes.
The kitchen is running all summer, but why not take a crash course in Chinese menu reading first?