Saturday, June 30, 2007

Fish Heads and other Tales


Today I met up with a friend for lunch who used to live in my neighbourhood. She took me to a restaurant in the area.

It serves Shandong dishes, and we ordered braised eggplant and fish head served in a soupy sauce with fried pancakes.

The eggplants were cooked in a thick savory sauce with roasted peanuts hidden underneath for a contrast in texture.

But the highlight was definitely this big flattened fish head swimming in a slightly sour sauce. We ate the meat from the fish - cooked just right. And then took the slices of fried pancakes and dipped them in the sauce to soak up the flavour.

And along with the food we had an interesting conversation about our observations about young people today.

Being in her early 40s, she remarked how the next generation prefer reading ba shi hou (people born after the 1980's) novels, which are usually about sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll Chinese style. "These books are the best sellers!" she exclaimed with a sigh.

She added that she hardly ever sees people reading anymore, compared to places other than big cities, where she notices every other person armed with a book.

I remarked that young people today can't write Chinese characters anymore -- they depend on their cell phone to give them the character that they looking for. You type in the pinyin, or English spelling of the Chinese word, and then a selection of characters comes up for you to choose.

The same goes with QQ, the Chinese version of instant messenger.

I asked colleagues about Chinese calligraphy lessons, since I thought this would be a good way for me to learn Chinese characters. They were all shocked that I would be interested in doing this, as they admitted they were horrible in brush writing.

So in a way, China's culture is disappearing faster than most people think... or maybe today's world is too crammed with information to remember so many Chinese characters...

3 comments:

ks said...

for decades china has been struggling with the issue of simplification the chinese language. the individual characters are difficult to learn. this is particularly true in the fast moving world we are living in. the thought of romanization chinese language using english alphabet is proposed but quickly shot down by conservative scholars. the chinese 'word' has eight sounds. one single character may have as many as eight different meanings depending on how it is pronounced with different intonation. i think the simplied form of chinese character will be the way to go. also compulsory chinese language and history should be in all school curriculum.

ks said...

the deterioration, or transformation of language is also taking place in english, i suppose in other languages too. when we watch movies like pride and prejudice, read shakespeare or othe classics, the language is different from the everyday english language . now it is computer age we have abbreviated forms for tex messages .

Anonymous said...

It's the same in the west. Young people don't read enough anymore and they definitely don't know how to spell either.