Saturday, February 21, 2015

Food Post 3: 豆漿 dou jiang (lit. bean broth) "soy milk" and 饅頭 man tou, ("tou" means "head") "steamed bun"

A typical light breakfast is 豆漿 and 饅頭, and you can buy them nearly anywhere that sells breakfast on a Sunday morning like today.

The vat in front of the lady is filled with steamy dou-jiang.  Dou-jiang is usually served warm or hot and has a much thicker, earthier taste than supermarket soy milk in the states.  In the glass cabinent, which keeps the buns moist and hot, are the man-tou (note: coincidentally in the word for "tou" 頭 is the radical 豆 "dou" (bean) from "dou-jiang" ---  it's probably there because of the similarity of sound, as a clue as to how to pronounce 頭, but I also am reminded of British idioms where "head" is sometimes refered to as "bean"). 
We ordered two kinds of man-tou, 白饅頭, bai man-tou (bai means "white") and 黑糖饅頭, hei tang man-tou (hei means "black" and tang means "sugar", which is the same character used in the previous post about chestnuts, by the way); hei-tang is like a molasses flavor.  There is also 芋頭饅頭 yu-tou man-tou (yu-tou means taro root), which is purple.*  See the menu below (we've marked our order with a red marker).  They are each 12 NT.  31 NT = 1 USD. 

Inside they are light and steamy, with a light pleasant flavor that isn't too sweet.  I asked William if he had ever tasted a cloud, and then I told him that this was basically what a cloud tasted like!
*(Note: 頭 tou (lit. head) which you see in both the two character words for "taro root" and "steamed bun" is often appended to various nouns, e.g. rock is 石頭, but it doesn't add any meaning.  There is no good analogy that I can think of in English.  頭 doesn't change the meaning of the words 芋 and 饅, which by themselves still mean "taro root" and "steamd bun;" but as you can see it usually only is added to nouns that are roundish and perhaps hard.  The addition of 頭 evolved because Chinese is WAY too homophonic to begin with---there are probably 40 to a hundred words that are pronounced "yu" (rain, fish, leftovers, mistake, name a few) varied by the 4 tones, so 頭 is thrown in to distinguish some of the nouns apart.)

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