web analytics
March 5, 2015 / 14 Adar , 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


How Do You Say Horseradish In Cantonese?

Lyons-050214

As I thrust my parsley onto the counter, I look at the woman and say, “horseradish.”

She looks at me quizzically. I do tend to speak rather quickly, so I repeat it again. This was most definitely not the problem.

 

I try to describe it to her. I find myself essentially playing a game of charades with the two women behind the counter and two women who happen to be in the shop.

While I do love a good game of charades and have played many impromptu games when trying to communicate here, I am really short on time.

Pointing to a radish while “neighing” seems like it won’t get me what I need. I even resort now to saying the word marror and contemplate singing part of the Four Questions but am doubtful that will help me either.

While one does pick up some Cantonese as a natural consequence of living here (though foreigners generally only study Mandarin), words seem to be limited to greetings, numbers, addresses, bathroom, water, garbage and other basics. I assure you that the word for horseradish is not on a rudimentary vocabulary list.

The game of charades, while mildly entertaining to me and apparently enthralling to them, gets me nowhere.

I pull out my phone and google a photo of horseradish. They all seem to recognize this and direct me two blocks down the street to an old woman, describing what she looks like in great detail. I thank them and race down the road abandoning my extra parsley. I am hopeful. I reach the corner and find a woman who meets their collective, rather unflattering, description. I scan her stall of dried Chinese medicines; this most definitely was not a step in the right direction.

I make eye contact with a man at an adjacent stall and essentially repeat my game of charades. I do this again and again covering all five stalls on the block. I am sent in one direction or another. I am always hopeful each time I see a nod or glimmer of recognition at the photo.

While leaping over a brackish puddle to the next street, I google the word for horseradish.

I give up on speaking and on charades at the next two stalls and instead present my phone screen. A fellow shopper looks at the screen.

“What are you looking for? ”

I show her the Chinese characters.

“What is this?”

Laaht gan,” I say, which unbeknownst to me just means “spicy root.”

“No, but what exactly are you looking for?”

I again offer the characters on the phone screen and repeat, “spicy root.”

She looks perplexed.

“Spicy root,” I repeat.

“I know that.  That is what it says.”

Apparently, when you google horseradish in Cantonese, the word for spicy root comes up. Six stalls later, I will tell you that there are many spicy roots on offer.  I am offered the same odd-looking Thai root several times. Apparently, the characters Spicy Root are not helpful.

Exacerbated, I call my husband and explain the story to him.

I am now joined by the women from stall one, apparently amused by my quest. They clearly do not have to make it to a Seder this evening.

My husband says to me, “You know it technically doesn’t even have to be horseradish.”

“Yes,” I respond, “but I have little time for a discussion of Mishnah. Besides I am firmly rooted in tradition. Pun intended,” because there is always time for an attempt at wit.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

4 Responses to “How Do You Say Horseradish In Cantonese?”

  1. Guy Peters says:

    Boo jing taÕ (?)

  2. Me too. Vegetarian, kosher, and love the book.

  3. Pam Wong says:

    That’s awesome. I speak cantonese and I sympathize how difficult to translate that world in cantonese and have local people know what one is looking for! :) Glad she got it. Now she knows it for next year!! :)

  4. What a rush. I would have been lazy, asking for wasabi instead. Then again, I only eat horse-radish with beef and turkey, and I can't imagine a vegie dish with it. Charlotte's Web is a good book too…I loved that bit.

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Megillat Esther
The Origins of Purim
Latest Sections Stories
Yarden Merlot

Bottles of wine accompany the Pesach storytelling – each glass of wine represents the four expressions used by G-d in describing the redemption of the Jewish people from Egypt.

Schonfeld-logo1

There is a point that many parenting books miss: children do more for us than we do for them.

Brigitte was a nine-year-old girl when Islamic militants launched an assault on a Lebanese military base and destroyed her home.

The husband needs to make some changes!

Purim is a fantastic time for fantasies, so I hope you won’t mind my fantasizing about how easy life would be if kids would prefer healthy cuisine over sweets. Imagine waking up to the call of “Mommy, when will my oatmeal be ready?”… As you rush to ladle out the hot unsweetened cereal, you rub […]

‘Double Gold’ awarded to 2012 Yarden Heights wine & 2011 Yarden Merlot Kela Single Vineyard.

One should not give the money before Purim morning or after sunset.

The mishloach manos of times gone by were sometimes simple and sometimes elaborate, but the main focus was on the preparation of the delicious food they contained.

One of the earliest special Purims we have on record was celebrated by the Jews of Granada and Shmuel HaNagid, the eleventh-century rav, poet, soldier and statesman, and one of the most influential Jews in Muslim Spain.

Jews, wake up! Stop educating the world and start educating yourselves.

The lessons conform to the sensitivities and needs of the Orthodox community…

The program took on special significance as it marked not only the first anniversary of Rebbetzin Kudan’s levayah but also the 27th yahrzeit of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson, a”h.

It was only in the reign of George III (1760-1820) that Jews became socially acceptable in Britain, and Nathan became music master to Princess Charlotte and musical librarian to King George IV.

More Articles from Erica Lyons
Lyons-Nei-Hou-logo

There is seemingly great pressure to orchestrate a production worthy of the Hong Kong skyline that will serve as a backdrop.

Lyons-050214

I am vegetarian, kosher and have read Charlotte’s Web more than once.

If your hero is fictional you could be crazy. And if they happen to be real, they are likely human and, unfortunately, inevitably flawed.

I left my mother a message saying goodbye and pleading with her to make sure my son grew up knowing how much I loved him.

In the quaint and picturesque Hungarian town of Szentendre (Saint Andrew), just outside of Budapest, our group of five new friends who had gathered from throughout the Jewish world bask in the sunlight, seemingly frozen in time. We weave along the cobblestone streets browsing in and out of charming little shops offering handmade crafts, delicate latticework, whimsical wooden toys and intricately painted porcelain. We sit outside and feast on pastries that look more like art than edibles and ice coffee is reminiscent of ice cream floats.

It started as my daughter’s third grade assignment: choose a person to write about, preferably an American, preferably a Jew. We were going to do just that. I intended to help my daughter choose the topic and then to back away yet, Emma Lazarus ended up drawing me in.

I met Mr. E at a poetry reading. Hong Kong’s literary scene is small and two Americans reading in one evening was an unusual event. We became Facebook friends, generally “liking” the same local literary events and book launches.

A Hong Kong symphony of sounds fills the air as local laborers shout across the shul courtyard in Cantonese while tossing bamboo in a pile for the sukkah: Filipino maids chatter in Tagalog hovering over the children in their charge, the radio of the Nepalese gurkhas, the Synagogue security, crackles and jackhammers provide the background music. The thick air and humidity within the walls of the partially constructed bamboo sukkah sharply contrasts with the crisp fall air of Sukkot in the northeastern corridor of the United States, where the sukkahs of my childhood were laden with dried fruit and autumn color. Dozens of colorful miniature Chinese paper lanterns dangle from the sukkah and here replace the burnt orange and golden gourds of autumn.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/features/feautures-on-jewish-world/how-do-you-say-horseradish-in-cantonese/2014/05/02/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: