Food & Drink

Food

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Food is very important in China as it forms part of the Chinese lifestyle.

zǎo fàn / 早饭 (breakfast) is a key meal for Chinese people. There is a Chinese saying: eat full for breakfast, well for lunch and less for dinner to stay healthy. 

fàn / 饭 means ‘meal’. So zǎo fàn / 早饭 (breakfast) literally means ‘early meal’, wǔ fàn / 午饭 (lunch) literally means ‘noon meal’ and wǎn fàn / 晚饭 (dinner) literally means ‘late meal’.

zǎo fàn / 早饭 - breakfast

wǔ fàn / 午饭 - lunch

wǎn fàn / 晚饭 - dinner

líng shí / 零食 - snacks

ò! nǐ gēgē è le。 / 哦! 你哥哥饿了 - Uh oh! Your brother's hungry!

And now he mentions it, so are you!

wǒ è le! / 我饿了 - I'm hungry!

nǐ gēgē è le。/ 你哥哥饿了 - Your brother's hungry.

What might you eat?

wǒ xiǎng chī!/ 我想吃 - I want to eat!

wǒ chī / 我吃... - I eat...

yú / 鱼 - fish

qiǎo kè lì / 巧克力 - chocolate

táng / 糖 - sweets

shǔ tiáo / 薯条 - chips

dàn gāo / 蛋糕 - cake

pī sà / 披萨 - pizza

suān nǎi / 酸奶 - yoghurt

sān míng zhì / 三明治 - sandwich

bīng qí lín / 冰淇淋 - ice cream

In Mandarin, like in English, when talking about a food you say FIRST what flavour and filling it has.

xiāngcǎo bīngqílín / 香草冰淇淋 - a vanilla ice-cream

cǎoméi bīngqílín / 草莓冰淇淋 - a strawberry ice-cream

qiǎokèlì bīngqílín / 巧克力冰淇淋 - a chocolate ice-cream

nǎilào sānmíngzhì / 奶酪三明治 - a cheese sandwich

huǒtuǐ sānmíngzhì / 火腿三明治 - a ham sandwich

zhù nǐ hǎo wèikǒu!/ 祝你好胃口 - Enjoy your food!

hǎo wèikǒu / 好胃口 - 'good appetite'

Delicious, eh? In Chinese you could say:

hǎo chī! /好吃 - Yum!

If you don't like the taste though, you might say:

bù hǎo chī! / 不好吃 - Yuck!

Rather than saying 'yum' or 'yuck', you might want to say you like or don't like a certain type of food. To do that you use the phrases xǐ huān / 喜欢 or bù xǐ huān / 不喜欢.

wǒ xǐhuān... / 我喜欢 - I like...

wǒ bù xǐhuān... / 我不喜欢 - I don't like...

To add more detail to your sentences, use hěn / 很 (very) and yǒu diǎnr / 有点儿 (a bit).

hěn / 很 - very

yǒu diǎnr / 有点儿 - a bit

wǒ hěn xǐ huān dàngāo / 我很喜欢蛋糕 - I like cakes a lot.

wǒ yǒu diǎnr xǐ huān shūcài / 我有点儿喜欢蔬菜 - I like vegetables a little bit.

wǒ bǐjiào xǐhuān / 我比较喜欢 - I prefer

wǒ bǐjiào xǐhuān nǎilào sānmíngzhì / 我比较喜欢奶酪三明治 - I prefer cheese sandwiches.

DID YOU KNOW… While in the UK each person has their own plate of food, in China the dishes are placed in the middle of the table and everybody shares out the food?