Alien Food In China

July 2, 2015 in Daily Bulletin

The Cleaver Quarterly took a look at how fruits, vegetables, and spices are referred to in Chinese:

  • Several food items first arrived in China at a time when China believed it was the epitome of civilization and everything outside of China was an uncivilized wasteland.
  • Therefore foods brought in from abroad were given names that signified their foreign, barbaric origins.
  • While they may be widely used in Chinese cooking today, linguistically they are still referred to as alien foods.

Some foods with more interesting Chinese translations include:

  • Tomato: Barbarian Eggplant
  • Potato: Foreign-Devil Mercy Root-Tuber
  • Sweet Potato: Barbarian Yam
  • Walnut: Foreign Peach
  • Carrot: Foreign Radish
  • Black Pepper: Foreign Pepper
  • Honeydew – Wallace Melon – this is because US Vice President Henry Wallace played a role in first making them popular in China in response to a drought.

See how these food items are now used in China, and read more of their individual histories over here.

Source: Lucky Peach