Wokipedia” is a regular magazine column in which we introduce aspects of Chinese gastronomy, one letter at a time.

... vegan 素食主义者 

China is definitely of two minds when it comes to the strictest form of veganism. On one hand, a number of vegetarian restaurants dedicated to entirely animal protein-free dining have emerged to serve the adherent. On the other, at non-vegetarian restaurants, even ground meat may be presented to the strictest of vegetarians. Therefore, it always helps to ask when ordering in a restaurant:

Is this made with meat? (You rou ma? 有肉 吗?)
Does it contain ground meat? (You rou xian ma? 有 肉馅吗?)
Does this contain eggs? (You jidan ma? 有鸡蛋 吗?)
Is this fish? (You yu ma? 有鱼吗?)
Does this contain dairy products? (You naizhipin ma? 有奶制品吗?)

It’s best to say,“I am vegetarian” (Wo chi su 我吃素) and then be specific about your dietary requirements as not everyone will understand what being vegan means.

... vinegar 醋
People from some parts of the country are easily identifiable when they ask for a small bowl of vinegar (cu 醋) with their lunch. Beijingers are partial to the stuff when eating dumplings (jiaozi 饺子), shunning the saltier soy sauce (jiangyou 酱油) for it. Vinegar appears in popular dishes like laohu cai (老虎菜) and in China, it’s almost always dark unlike the white variety (baicu 白醋) commonly found overseas.

... viticulture 葡萄栽培
Although the concept of wine has existed for millennia in China, it was often translated as “wine” when what the writer was likely referring to was a spirit of some kind, all written as jiu (酒) especially in pre-modern poetry. There was also pre-European putaojiu (葡萄酒), which is still a fairly popular, sometimes homemade, alcoholic beverage made from pressing and distilling grape juice. However, the drink we most often think of as wine continues to gain popularity, with Chinese palates increasingly learning to determine whether the wine is dry (gan 干) or sweet (tian 甜). With vines (putao teng 葡萄藤) now being planted from Shandong to Xinjiang, it seems like fermented wine is here to stay.


Photo: Flickr user toehk (Tauno Toehk)

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