Saturday, January 24, 2009

Niu - There's the Beef

Niu, which means cow, usually appears next to Rou, 牛肉, when you're talking about beef, but not always. Sometimes it will stand alone.

To me, it looks like a Free French cross with a leaf on it, which doesn't help me remember it. I suppose if you thought of it as a telegraph pole, it might remind you of the open range out west, where the longhorn cattle roam.

Or you could just memorize it.

These two characters, niu and rou are a good starting place for practice. Get yourself a Chinese menu and look for them, separately and together. You could also look for them in dishes on the all-Chinese specials board. You might see a couple of simple dishes -- boiled beef 水牛肉 or beef congee (thick rice soup) 牛肉粥, or beef noodle soup 牛肉湯麵. (Just beware: Sichuan boiled beef is usually very very spicy.)

The Pinyin spelling is niú or niu2. Second tone, for those who are interested in speaking it.

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