Saturday, January 17, 2009

Adventures in Snacking

Does not the ear test words
as the tongue tests food?
-- Job 12:11

Words, words, words. Our ears can't tell the difference yet, between Mandarin Chinese (the official language of China and the language taught in schools) and Cantonese Chinese (the actual language everyone speaks here in Hong Kong).

To be honest, sometimes when people try to speak English (like the taxi driver, or the grocery clerk, or the team of cable-installers who have been to our house three times now to hook us up to t.v., an event that our son, especially, has been anxiously awaiting) -- it also sounds like Chinese to us!

I think I'm beginning to be able to tell the difference between Chinese and Japanese written characters at least. But not before I made the mistake of buying this bag of snacks, thinking I was trying out some authentic Chinese tidbits. Looks kinda yummy, no? But then I got to thinking how odd to advertise a snack with pictures of little dead fish on the bag.

So, I opened it up and behold, the little dead fish are actually part of this yummy snack of cookie covered peanuts!

And the fish are dusted with a little sprinkling of... sugar!

And it's not Chinese at all, it's imported from Japan.

Then I think of the seminary students who come to Hong Kong from Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam, students for whose ears Cantonese is as unfamiliar as it is to us, and how they struggle to communicate with us and each other in English, which is a second or a third language for them. Even the students from Hong Kong have the challenge of trying to understand these fellow students, along with some of their foreign teachers, who teach in English.

So sometimes you get surprises when you don't yet understand. And you've got to keep testing things out, the words, and the food.

My family could not believe that I ate half the bag, little dead fish and all.

But I don't think I'll buy this particular snack again.


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