My favourite bits of Dali: Some pictures from an article in the upcoming issue of Travelling Scope magazine (《旅游天地》杂志) on all my favourite things in Dali: Walking in the woods, Baizu myths, hot springs and of course the food :)….
Eating closed door soup
to eat closed-door soup
to be left out in the cold;
to be denied entrance
This expression can be used either for unwanted visitors, or if the person called on isn’t at home.
This is often combined with another phrase:
铁将军把门 – 吃闭门羹
tǐe jiāng jun bǎ mén, chī bì mén gèng
The iron general holds the door closed, [and the visitor had to] eat closed-door soup.
“Iron general” is the name given to traditional Chinese locks.
Beard gone to seed
To say to an old man “At your age you should know better” in Yunnanese, you say that their beard has gone to seed.
For example, say an old man steals candy from a baby, the mother of the child may well scream at him:
Sī lāo gǔnr, nì fùzi doù qì taìr la, haí nǎme bù dōn shì, zǎge haí qí ge xiào wāwā.
Literally: Dead old villain, your beard’s long gone to seed and you still don’t understand [how to behave], how can you bully a small child?
English: You nasty old geezer, you should know better at your age, picking on a little kid like that!
In Mandarin the phrase “your beard has gone to seed” is not used, but the meaning can be expressed as:
Haí huó bù míngbai
Huó le zhème jiǔ, nǐ zěnme haí bù míngbai dào li?
uneasy, fidgety, restless
These are a couple of the more fun Chinese characters – fidgety, restless anxiety is expressed by 忐忑 – which has the up (上) and down (下) characters over a heart (心).
To grab the Buddha’s foot in an emergency
to grasp the Buddha’s foot in an emergency
to seek help at the last moment;
to make a frantic last-minute effort
This comes from a longer phrase which runs:
When idle he neglects to burn incense,
yet when in trouble he desperately clutches the Buddha’s feet.
However, a teacher at the Chinese Language Department of Huizhou College believes that such desperate cramming [=Buddha leg clutching] just before the exams in no way contributes to the students’ understanding of their subjects, and thus is undesirable.
In colloquial use it is more common to say:
lín shí bào fó jiǎo
And this fits better with the whole phrase:
píng shí bù shāo xiāng, lín shí bào fó jiǎo
The first person to eat a crab
the first person [ever] to eat a crab
someone who makes a discovery important to civilization, an innovator, he who dares wins
In an article about Professor Ye Peijian 1 – General Director of the Moon Exploration Project:
In 1995, as head of the technology department for a Shenzhen-listed VSAT network company, he made ground-breaking progress in satellite technology becoming an innovator[=the first person to eat a crab] in the field. 2
And here is an example from an article on mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot:
From these examples it can be seen the fractal geometry is very simple and clear-cut, much less demanding than any mathematical field being explored today – it seems there is nothing extraordinary about it. And yet it is no easy thing to be the first person to eat a crab, even the second and third person to eat crab have a tricky time of it. In many aspects of fractal geometry, even if Mandelbrot was not to first to eat the crab in question, he made crab eating fashionable. Much of his contribution to the field takes this [inspirational] form, and he eventually created fractal science from these many disparate discoveries. 3
There’s also this nice legend, not sure of the source but I got it from baike.baidu.com
Millennia ago, legend tells of a creature with two pincers and eight legs that lived in the lakes and rivers, a shelled thing of fiendish appearance. Not only did it eat the crops in the field, it would attack people with its pincers, and thus was known as the mangling pest. When Yu the Great [founder of the Xia dynasty] came south to tame the flood waters he sent the warrior hero Ba Jie to supervise the engineering work. However, the mangling pests would beset the workers and cause delays. To foil them Ba Jie dug a moat around the city filled with boiling water. When the mangling pests swarmed they leapt one after another into the moat and were boiled alive. The cooked mangling pests had turned red in colour and gave off a delicious, intoxicating aroma. Curious, Ba Jie split open one of the creatures’ shells and the aroma became even stronger. He steeled himself and took a bite, the flesh more delicious than anything he had ever tasted. Thus it was the feared creatures soon became a household dish. In gratitude for Ba Jie’s daring, the people created a name for the creature placing the character for Ba Jie’s name (解) over that of pest (虫) to create the word for crab (蟹), signifying that Ba Jie had subjugated the mangling pest, becoming the first person to eat a crab. 4
Illustrations by Jason Pym
- 叶培建 Yè Péijiàn More info here.
- 1995年，他作为技术负责人参加了深圳股票VSAT网的设计，这是卫星应用技术的一个开拓性项目，因此他成了我国卫星应用领域里“第一个吃螃蟹的人”。 Source:www.spacechina.com
- “从这个实例可以看出，分形几何非常直观、简单，比现在任何一种数学都简单几 百倍，似乎没什么了不起。但第一个吃螃蟹的人不容易，第二、第三个吃者也不简单。对于分形几何学中相当多内容，即使芒氏也不是第一个吃螃蟹的人，但他使吃螃蟹成为了时尚。他做的许多 贡献都是这 种性质的，他最终将毫无头绪的“杂多”综合在一起，创立了分形科学。” Source: baike.baidu.com
My illustrations are on the cover of Paul French’s Badlands - old school Penguin Australia edition (very chuffed :)
New jam labels for the cafe: Marmalade, quince and red plum…
New Quince Jam for the cafe, this one is on a Turkish theme (‘cause that’s one of the places quince comes from, apparently), the dragon is dressed as an Ottoman Janissary…