Monday, September 19, 2022

THE RED STUFF

A little after tea time I hung around outside the Chungking (重慶) restaurant listening to the two Mandarin-speaking staff members chatting. Not actually paying attention, mind you, but occasionally I caught a phrase or two. Ta shuo-le... mei ru na... ta de fuqin...
Deliberately, I stood far enough away that a reasonably diplomatic pretence of privacy was assured. Besides, the conversation of Mandarin speakers is not something I find very interesting beyond pronunciation and cadence.
Seeing as my comprehension is not advanced enough.
It would be pointless to react.

Whenever I'm at a restaurant that serves Shanghainese, Hunan, or Sichuan and Shantung cuisine -- dumplings, for instance, I love dumplings -- at an opportune moment I will ask if they speak Cantonese. There's almost always a member of the waitstaff who does.
Food is best discussed in a language that both speakers comprehend.
And English is not perfect for that in any case.
Shantung cuisine: 魯菜 ('lou choi'). Sichuan cuisine (川菜 'chuen choi'). Hunan cuisine (湘菜 'seung choi'). Shanghai cuisine (滬菜 'wu choi'). Su Tsai (蘇菜 'sou choi') is close to Shanghainese cooking, FYI. Fujianese cuisine (閩菜 'man choi').

Rarely do I eat at Chinese restaurants where Cantonese is not the language. But remarkably I do like those other styles. A Hokkien oyster omelette (蚵仔煎), or kwee tiau noodles fried with egg (鴨蛋炒粿條), is not to be passed up. And sealed meat (封肉) is delicious!

Plus, given that Hokkien restaurants often have a South East Asian connection, the presence of sambal can be taken for granted.



One of the Mandarin speaking fellows outside is from Yunnan, I remember. Yunnan cuisine (滇菜 'din choi') is spicy and filled with fungus. It's famous for bridge crossing noodles (過橋米線 'kwo kiu mai sin'), a chicken soup with fresh veggies. They also use chili peppers.




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