This introduction has zero bearing on our actual lesson, but considering the gravity of the subject matter, if you live in Shanghai please throw us a bone and tell us where on earth people go for late-night dining. The "Eat Drink Man Woman" diner on Tongren Lu used to be a great place with serviceable coffee and 24-hours of nutritious WIFI. But with that shut down it seems the entire city's late-night dining options are restricted to McDonalds, 永和大王 and 避风塘. Say it ain't so.
 said on
August 20, 2012
I have a recipe for 鱼香肉丝 in one of my cookbooks and there it is said that in former times this dish had been made with fish. So it describes more the style how it was prepared with what kind of additional ingredients, less the taste or smell.
 said on
August 21, 2012
@sabine.doppelfeld,

Interesting! You are right. I just checked online: this dish was used to cook fish. 学习了,谢谢!

--Echo

echo@popupchinese.com
 said on
August 21, 2012
hahahah there are vast areas of china that aren't exposed to the sea...... hahaha I love it. I don't ask questions with things that taste that good, I just assume there is a reason. Maybe in China assuming there is a reason is the biggest mistake you can make.

Been here 4 months after visiting twice but have been able to avoid culture shock this time somehow and I am around mostly non-English speaking Chinese. Xiamen seems to be a magnet for young 义工 drifters from Guangdong and Sichaun which balances everything out. Sure there are tiny things but everything feels a lot better when a local who doesnt speak English is with you shaking their head with you. Face has yet to become an issue, just small instances of it which were avoided thanks to all my conflict-avoidence training in Japan. Have you guys been here? Is it just me or is it suspiciously not China.

Echo has accomplished a lot for a 10 year old.
 said on
August 21, 2012
Funny lesson, guys! A couple sentences I was unsure of...

9'32"  好sun3

14'06"  不要以貌取人

Also -- Thanks for mentioning a pet peeve of mine: Chinese people speaking about you, in front of you, as though you can't understand or speak for yourself.

Here's one I've seen a few dozen times. I'm at a big dinner with my in-laws. I introduce myself to someone at table and start talking with them. A few seconds later they turn to my mother-in-law and say 洋女婿说中文说得好! At this point, I'm effectively out of the conversation. If I say nothing, they will speak about me for minutes as though I wasn't there. They will talk about my life (growing up in Canada, studying in New York, pursuing a career in music) without once asking for my input. I am a 30-year-old man, and I'm sitting right in front of them while they do this.

Last week my wife and I met some folks at a musical event. Before they left, a man asked my wife for my phone number. I was standing directly in front of him, and had been speaking Chinese the whole time.

This is frustrating, but I've learned to live with it. Sometimes I laugh; sometimes I insist on speaking for myself. Like so many other things in China, it's not worth getting mad about :-)
 said on
August 21, 2012
Funny lesson, cheered up my afternoon! This was exactly my everyday life for several years... until I moved out of China. Listening this lesson all those past restaurant experiences just popped into my mind and I can remember few more funny patterns in addition to those you mentioned:

- me talking to waitress in Chinese and her clearly understanding everything, but then replying to my Chinese-looking wife sitting next to me, because she somehow things that I'm only able to speak Chinese but not listen and comprehend. Even when I had just commented on something she had said. This never failed to piss off my wife who would rather not have any communication with the restaurant staff. 你跟他说吧,不要跟我说!And then she would whisper 不好意思,我不会说外语!It all sounds funny now, but back then it was sometimes getting on our nerves big time.

- me speaking to bunch of Chinese people in Chinese. Everybody else understands perfectly what I'm saying, except this one poor soul whom I'm talking to, just doesn't get any of it... and she then says to her friends 我不懂英语 and only after her friends have repeatedly told her that I'm actually speaking Chinese she finally might start to understand something (but is usually by then too frozen to function anymore and there's no chance to get the business done right). I've also met many waitresses who would just shy out and literally escape before I even get to open my mouth.

I've had several happy moments of observing the confusion that I've just caused when some random Chinese dude comes to talk to my Chinese friend (whom I was just having discussion with in Chinese) and asks him, right in front of me, 他会讲国语吗?and before my friend says anything, I bluntly reply on his behalf 不会,但是英语没问题。 And countless Chinese have asked me 你是外国人吗?Like what the heck is that supposed to mean? One has to be seriously pissed drunk to mix my scandinavian looks with 新疆人, not to mention other Chinese races. The obvious answer to this brilliant question is of course 不不不,我不是外国人,我是芬兰人

murrayjames, I've had so many experiences similar to yours and it's always quite upsetting, no matter who is doing it. On normal day I could just Zen it out, but if this happens on bad china day I would definitely get mad about it.
 said on
August 22, 2012
@lazer85,

Hahaha, thanks! I believe I must have very mature voice being a 10 year old too :D

I have never been to Xiamen, but I have heard that more and more 文艺 young people going there. I assume that definitely helps.

@murrayjames,

9'32" 还有笋 (also has bamboo shoot)

14'06" 不要以貌取人 (don't judge people solely by their appearance)

@maminglei,

哈哈哈哈哈,你的故事笑死我了,我最喜欢”我不是外国人,我是芬兰人“那个部分 :D I guess the reason he asked if you are a foreigner was because he assumed you are and then he heard you speaking Chinese. He believed this could never happen "a foreigner speaks Chinese", so his brain was fighting with himself.

--Echo

echo@popupchinese.com

 said on
August 23, 2012
That was the most enjoyable lesson I have listened to in a long time!

Greetings from Texas, where we have a similar issue to "yu xiang". I hope it's not more than you want to hear, but, here in Texas we often talk about "chicken fajitas". This is because nowadays the word "fajita" refers to the way a meat is marinated. However, the word "fajita" originally referred to a specific cut of beef, "skirt steak" I believe. So, technically there is no such thing as a chicken fajita, but everyone says it. My guess is that "yu xiang" has the same history. It was probably a sauce or style of cooking that was originally used for fish and since the sauce tastes so good, it was then used for red meats too, not to mention eggplant, I really like yu xiang qiezi.

BTW, I really liked the "bu qing chu" at the end too.
 said on
August 31, 2012
Hey I have a simple question, it's kind of unrelated to this lesson, but I wasn't sure where to ask it. I noticed when I'm talking to Chinese people they'll sometimes end a question in “没有?" instead of "吗?" and I was wondering in what situations can you use "没有" instead of ”吗" and if it changes the tone of the question.
 said on
September 1, 2012
@minghan,

The meanings are the same. Using "吗" sounds more colloquial. I think people in the South use "没有" more.

--Echo

echo@popupchinese.com
 said on
September 10, 2012
I just have to tell you all how much I enjoyed the back and forth on "fish" "no fish". You guys sure seem to have a lot of fun. Thanks for the laughs! I was on the bus ride back home from Chicago and found myself laughing out loud during this podcast.
 said on
September 10, 2012
@joemillerzh,

You are welcome! Glad to hear you like this lesson :)

--Echo

echo@popupchinese.com
 said on
January 10, 2013
Excellent lesson.

But the waiter is wonderfully clueless... the customer was just trying to explain what he wanted. Not really over-specifying, is it?

Still in the "we are with you" category... Are there any lessons dealing with how to ask a fellow visitor to the men's room not to pee on the floor? Tactfully, without sounding xenophobic and getting into a fist fight.
 said on
January 11, 2013
@mike_underhill,

Hahaha, sounds like an idea. We'll see if we can make a dialogue with it.

--Echo

echo@popupchinese.com

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