From Eccentric Flower
This is a story about learning to be an aware eater.
Like Calvin Trillin (most famously) and many others, I have never quite been able to sit down to a meal in a Chinese restaurant without wondering. Wondering if the Chinese characters on the menu said the same thing as the alleged English translations. Wondering what goodies I was missing from the Chinese-only specials board on the wall.
Wondering if there could be a more efficient way to make sure I got exactly what I thought I was getting, to know a little more about what I was ordering, to enable myself to make better food decisions.
So I started to learn some Chinese. I never did learn much. I still can't read a newspaper in Chinese, nor a non-food-related sign, nor hold a conversation in it. But I can read a menu in Chinese. And here I'm going to attempt to show you how to do it too.
This offer comes with some strict limitations.
I'm not going to teach you how to speak any Chinese, not even a little. These pages will be very little concerned with the sounds of Chinese or even with writing Chinese in Western letters. Mostly this is about Chinese characters. (This is exactly the opposite of the approach most Chinese textbooks take. But this is not a textbook.)
I'm also not going to show you any Chinese outside of a very limited environment: Restaurant signs and restaurant menus. The goal is to enable you to look at a restaurant sign and say, "oh, this place specializes in seafood," or to look at a mystery-meat dish on a menu and see the Chinese and say, "ah, it's a lamb dish."
These are relatively simple goals, and it's not hard, but if you do actually want the information, then play by the rules: Read the pages in order, no looking ahead or skipping. And take some time on the pages where I stop to show you what we've seen so far.
Or, conversely, you could just read it for entertainment. I've tried to keep it relatively light and fluffy. But you should still read it in strict order, or later pages won't make any sense.
See the full contents (if you want to pick up where you left off)
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