Who doesn’t like food? We dine out, we order deliveries, and some of us even cook yummy meals for loved ones and friends. But, more often than not, we also stare at an empty fridge and decide to head out for a grocery run. So, what other occasion is better for picking up a couple of fruits, veggies, and handy Chinese?
We handpicked five commonly used Chinese words for grocery shopping. Picture yourself at your local supermarket as we walk you down the aisles of different vocab! It’s much more efficient to pick up vocab in groups in real-life scenarios. Let’s do this.
Apple 蘋果/苹果 (píng guǒ)
🍎 蘋果/苹果 means apple fruit. It’s also the namesake for global tech brand Apple. Isn’t it fun and refreshing to say 蘋果/苹果 instead of Apple when talking about the iPhone? 😆
Cauliflower 花椰菜 (huā yē cài)
Let’s break down the word cauliflower (花椰菜) into some (meaningful) florets. 花 (huā) can mean a “flower” or a “blossom.” Seeing the grass radical (艹) at the top of the character, you can guess it refers to plants or nature. The second character, 椰 (yē), on its own stands for coconut. The last character, 菜 (cài), in this context, stands for “vegetable.”
花椰菜 is interchangeable for broccoli and cauliflower in Chinese! It might be a bit confusing for some foodies. So, how do we differentiate the two? Simply add the color “green” (綠/绿; lǜ) for“broccoli.” For example,
⚪ cauliflower 花椰菜 (huā yē cài)
🟢 broccoli 綠花椰菜/绿花椰菜 (lǜ huā yē cài)
P.S.: Broccoli is also known as 西蘭花/西兰花 (xī lán huā) 🥦 in mainland China.
Cheese 奶酪 (nǎi lào)
🧀 There are quite a few Chinese words for cheese. Among them, the commonly used one in mainland China is 奶酪 (nǎi lào), which translates to “milk cheese.”
Other synonyms are used depending on the region.
– 起司 (qǐ sī) – is a loanword used often in Taiwan⠀
– 起士 (qǐ shì) – also a loanword used often in Taiwan⠀
– 芝士 (zhī shì) – a loanword used in mainland China or Hong Kong⠀
Fun fact: If you’re trying to say: “Cheese!” when posing for a photo 📷 in China, say – 茄子 (qié zi), which means eggplant!⠀
Cake 蛋糕 (dàn gāo)
🍰 Fancy a bit of 蛋糕? 蛋 means “egg” and 糕 is “cake.” Together, it roughly means “egg cake.” That makes sense because eggs are one of the key ingredients to making light and fluffy sponge cakes.
Fun fact: You probably won’t find a birthday cake in a Chinese supermarket. Chinese people usually get birthday cakes (生日蛋糕) from local bakeries or patisseries because they’re fresher and tastier.
Chocolate 巧克力 (qiǎo kè lì)
🍫 Here comes another guilty pleasure – 巧克力 (qiǎo kè lì; chocolate)! It sounds like the French word “chocolat” because there’s no final “t” sound. Chocolate is one of the most popular sweet treats in the world, and nobody can deny a chocolate cake (巧克力蛋糕) 🎂. Yum!
Did you know that loanwords play a big part in the Chinese language?? 巧克力 is a classic case. Some other examples include:
– salad 沙拉 (shā lā)
– bacon 培根 (péi gēn)
– coffee 咖啡 (kā fēi)
– cola 可樂/可乐 (kě lè)
What other items are always on your grocery list? 🛒