Chao Fan ‘n Chinglish

IMG_0953I’m afraid to say that Mexican food has gone down a notch on my totem pole of favorites. Many times a week, and sometimes every day I think about all of the good food I’m not going to be able to eat once I’m back Sate-side (such as lotus, hot pot, seasoned & barbecued eggplant, REAL gong pao chicken, spicy Sichuan pork, dragon fish, and the list goes on). Also, due to the efforts of these ladies, who have no idea how much they have inspired me, I am now the Fried Rice Queen!! 🙂

At least that’s what I call myself when I’m cooking it! haha

Since I discovered fried rice in our cafeteria, I have been watching them to learn how to make it (further evidence of mental gymnastics, for those that read my previous post). In the beginning I was using a different sauce, but I felt I had the technique down. However, after buying proper soy sauce I don’t think I can ever go back. The result of 2 weeks of practice is this:

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The reality is that it isn’t that hard to make, but I think it’s appropriate that China is the place I have learned how to make fried rice. If only I could learn the language as fast…

Pu tong hua, also known as Mandarin Chinese, is incredibly different from anything else I have learned. Oftentimes there aren’t even related concepts in either English or Spanish that I can use to ground the words, sounds, and structure. In some situations I have discovered mnemonic devices that help me, only to baffle my Chinese tutors with such methods. In other words, it is not only the language itself that is different, but also the way of learning it. Most Chinese schools teach solely by rote memory, or rather repetition. Furthermore, some Chinese translators amount to little more than useless. For example, when I communicate with my students there is an automatic translator built into the system. Despite this I often encourage them to try using English when they message me. I was reminded this last week why….

After translating one of their conversations it went as follows:

A: Yellow Chicken

A: Are you going?

B: The czar not to

A: I..

A: My name is _________.

If nothing else I suppose I get a laugh out of it, but it is also why I encourage them to use English. I have a higher chance of understanding bad English grammar than crudely translated Chinese conversations.

Until next time!

~A

P.S. I indulged in a Western comfort last week…can you spot it in the photos?

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STARBUCKS! I thought I would be able to get some work done there…but I most definitely thought wrong. It was packed with people. Everything from monks sipping lattes to mothers breast-feeding in the corner. However, I was successfully able to use my very limited Chinese to order my old-time favorite: a hazelnut latte.

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