Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Xian - Don't be Fresh!

Here's an irony for you. "Fishy" and "muttony" are words that are used in most cultures (including Chinese) to describe an icky off-flavor. And yet, look at the word for "Fresh", xian 鮮 and you will see the characters for Fish and Mutton! Maybe it's that those are two things that have to be fresh to taste good. I don't know. I just find it a hoot.

I remember this one because it's ironic. (I remember the fish. I remember the sheep. The fact that the two of them make "fresh" is just ... memorable.)

You mostly see it as a part of the phrase meaning "seafood", which is hai xian 海鮮, or "sea fresh". We'll wrap up our seafood section with that tomorrow.

The Pinyin spelling is xiān or xian1 (first tone).

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