We've had this odd-looking vegetable a couple of times at home recently. It looks a bit like Brussel Sprouts and tastes similarly yummy. I'm a big Brussel sprout fan, so I was intrigued to find out exactly its English name, if it has one. Inspired by recent Holmes TV series (both "Elementary" and "Sherlock") I started my investigation...
Ma-in-law mumbled something like "Urgh! Sigh!", and the nanny later confirmed that "er cài" (儿菜) is its name in local dialect, literally "children vegetable"!? Ava couldn't help - she didn't even know how to write the local name in Chinese characters. The first two colleagues I asked at work had no idea what I was talking about. The third said it's proper name was "Da tóu cài" (大头菜), which translates literally as "big head vegetable". However, further investigation revealed this to be swede or rutabaga.
Another fellow teacher, "Kelly", agreed to look into it for me and came back with a proper name of "bào zǐ cài" (抱子菜) which translates literally as, "holding babies vegetable"! And the English for that comes back as "Brussells vegetable". Bingo! And that seemed to be the end of the trail. Until, that is, I typed in "Brussel sprouts" into another online dictionary and found a totally different name, "qiú yá gānlán" (球芽甘蓝). The mystery continues...
17/1/2014 10:08:48 am
You must have spare time on your hands !!
Paul (the one)
18/1/2014 12:20:16 am
No, it's definitely not thyme...
Ali (in Scotland)
20/1/2014 06:54:52 pm
Hi Paul (long time no contact, sorry)
Paul (the one)
21/1/2014 12:17:04 am
Terrific to hear from you, Ali. Hope all is well. You were certainly an avid detective when it came to cultural, geographical and foodie matters!
Paul (the other one)
21/1/2014 12:15:59 am
They could be just brussel sprouts as there are a number of varieties.
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Paul Hider lives and works in Kunming (SW China) and regularly updates this blog about his life there.
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