China questions #2

handsofstone asked “What do they call Chinese restuarants over there? just “restaurants” or is there a special name?”

There isn’t a special name. Of the staggering number of places to eat in this city less than 1% are non-Chinese, probably significantly less. Not counting KFC or McDonalds I can think of six. “Western food” tends to be expensive, flavourless and artificial and I’ve given up on it. They just don’t have the ingredients or the cultural knowledge to make authentic “western” food, mainly because there is no such thing as “authentic western food”.
“Chinese food,” meanwhile, means as little here as “European food” means in England. There are as many differences between Sichuan and Cantonese cuisine as there are between Italian and German – it’s something like a whole continent of eatin’. The Chinese restaurants back home are about as authentic as the “western” ones here, or maybe even less so.
As for what you literally call them, restaurants are such a part of life here that you don’t really talk about them at all. It’s fair to assume that someone is eating in a restaurant for any given meal so you just ask “have you eaten?” and no more usually needs to be said. “Have you eaten?” is even usually used instead of “how are you”.
A conversation where you’d need to know the word for “restaurant” is one a little too complex for my level of spoke Chinese. Apparently a can’guan or fàn’guan is a “public restaurant” and a fàndiàn is a hotel restaurant. If only I could just glance at these words and remember them.
On the subject, this is just a little under the standard of translation I expect now, and even makes a little sense to me.
All this writing is making me hungry.

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2 Responses to China questions #2

  1. i have a question about food now:
    “what’s the most unusual thing you have eaten whilst in china and is there anything you regularly eat now which you would never have imagined eating whilst living in the uk/europe?”

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