Inside a Chinese Food Market Posted by sasha on Apr 21, 2014 in Culture, Vocabulary
In the past few months, we’ve talked a lot about shopping in China. After all, going to local markets is a great way to practice your language skills. Plus, they are far cheaper than the stores with mostly imported goods. We’ve gone over a lot of useful vocabulary for doing your grocery shopping in China, but what does a Chinese food market really look like? Here’s a short description for you, full of plenty of photos:
Here we have some of the staples of a Chinese supermarket. From left to right, we have: giant jugs of cooking oil (烹调油 – pēng tiáo yóu), huge bags of rice (米饭 – mǐ fàn), and an entire aisle dedicated to instant noodles (方便面 – fāng biàn miàn), which in Chinese literally translates to “convenient noodles.” Convenient, indeed! And cheap as well. A huge bowl of these will set you back only about 3 RMB, or around $0.50. Not surprisingly, Chinese instant noodles blow Ramen out of the water. They are spicy, quick, and cheap, so you don’t have to feel bad about eating like a poor college student!
Next up we can see China’s take on snacks (小吃 – xiǎo chī – lit. “small eat”). In your local store, it shouldn’t be hard to find a huge selection of sausage (香肠 – xiāng cháng) ready to eat. I personally recommend any Harbin style sausage, although you are probably better off buying those on your trip there for the Ice and Snow Festival. In the middle is a huge collection of Chinese candy (糖 – táng) of all shapes, sizes, and colors. Finally, we have… well… I have no idea. Your guess is as good as mine.
Look away, vegetarians, because next up we’re strolling down the meat (肉 – ròu) aisle. When I first moved here, I was taken aback at how people just handle raw meat left and right in the grocery store. These days, I don’t bat an eye when I see a lady dig through a pile of raw chicken breasts, although I still use a bag. As you can see from the pictures, a Chinese grocery store is a carnivore’s paradise. Just look at those massive ribs (肋骨 – lèi gǔ)! Basically, you can get any type of any meat you want here. As this is China, almost no part of the animal goes to waste, so you can get pretty creative with your recipes.
Of course, you will see plenty of interesting items for sale. I’m pretty sure the picture on the left is a random assortment of pig parts. You’ve heard of the famous Beijing roast duck (北京烤鸭 – Běijīng kǎo yā), right? So why not take one to go! In just about every grocery store here, you can buy a packaged, dried up version of the royal cuisine. Just don’t expect a whole lot from it. Alternatively, you could always stock up on seaweed (海草 – hǎi cǎo).
Speaking of the sea, there is plenty of seafood (海鲜 – hǎi xiān) for you to choose from. Take your pick from boat loads of fish on ice, or you can go with a less conventional option and pick your own turtle (龟 – guī). In case you aren’t clear, these turtles aren’t meant to be pets. I just had to snap a picture of the huge fish on the right, as I found it quite entertaining sitting next to a solitary package of salmon.
Last, but certainly not least, we have a trio of the three strangest things I was able to find in the store on this particular day. First, we have what appears to be a row of ducks just hanging out, followed by a cooler full of pig’s feet (猪脚 – zhū jiǎo). To top it all off, we found an entire pig’s head, wrapped, priced, and ready to go. What I want to know is, how does one go about cooking this?
As you can see, shopping in a Chinese market may not be very good for a squeamish person, but it sure is an experience! Put your language skills to the test, get over the culture shock, and get out there to your local market!
Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.