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The English translations of these Chinese vegetable words range from absurd to adorable. I’ve listed the Chinese character, the pronunciation, the English word, and the literal translation.
卷心菜 [JUǍN XĪN CÀI] – CABBAGE (LITERALLY, “SWIRLING HEART VEGETABLE”)
菠萝 [BŌ LUÓ] – PINEAPPLE (“SPINACH RADISH”)
Huh? Maybe pineapple and spinach plants appear similar in the ground.
灯笼椒 [DĒNG LÓNG JIĀO]- BELL PEPPER (“LANTERN PEPPER”)
芦笋 [LÚ SǓN] – ASPARAGUS (“BAMBOO REEDS”)
羽衣甘蓝 [YǓ YĪ GĀN LÁN]－KALE (“FEATHER DRESS CABBAGE”)
西兰花 [XĪ LÁN HUĀ] – BROCCOLI (“WESTERN ORCHID”)
Ever seen the yellow flowers on a broccoli plant? They don’t look like “orchids”, but they are pretty nonetheless.
黄瓜 [HUÁNG GUĀ]- CUCUMBER (“YELLOW MELON”)
Native Chinese cucumbers are yellow! The word “yellow melon” describes all types of cucumber, including the traditional green.
西红柿 [XĪ HÓNG SHÌ] – TOMATO (“WESTERN RED PERSIMMON”)
土豆 [TǓ DÒU] – POTATO (“EARTH BEAN”)
I, too, am an earth bean.
鳄梨 [È LÍ] – AVOCADO (“ALLIGATOR PEAR”)
朝鲜蓟 [CHÁO XIǍN JÌ] – ARTICHOKE (“ROYAL FRESH THISTLE”)
玉米 [YÙ MǏ] – CORN (“JADE RICE”)
豆腐 [DÒU FU]- TOFU (“BEAN DECAY”)
Any interesting translations you can come up with? Share with us!