Forays in Mandarin
At Dune Cafe in Kúnmīng yesterday, Matt ordered, "young soybeans" for 15rmb. The waitress brought a frozen chunk of edamame with a tiny side of soy sauce. Matt ate a couple and noted at least the beans weren't frozen. We wondered briefly about how the soy sauce was intended to be used. Then Matt brought them back.
Matt: "Wèishénme zhège yŏu bīng?" Why does this have ice?
Waitress: "....bīngde" ....frozen
Matt: "Bīngde" frozen
Matt: "Zhège kĕyĭ yŏu...kĕyĭ méi yŏu bīng ma?" Can this have...can not have ice?
The waitress smiled sheepishly, took the plate and brought it to the kitchen. Matt ordered two more beers and came back. In one minute the plate was returned with 8% less ice.
Waitress: "Hăo ba" Good?
Matt: (Pause, looking at me). "Méi yŏu wénti." No problem. (Pause, as he tried them again.) "Yŏu yìsi." It's interesting.
The waitress giggled and left. Matt tried another bean.
Anjuli: "I don't think we should be eating ice."
Matt: "Yea, prolly not."
Anjuli: "I think it's just all wrong."
Matt: "It's a Japanese dish served on an English-written menu for westerners in mainland China. You can't get them all right."