Sushi is shòu sī (寿司)

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Since we cook and eat Chinese food almost every day, we tend to go for other types of food when we dine out or when it’s someone’s birthday.

If you don’t know by now, Chinese is an incredibly literal, simple and straightforward language. Yet, it’s such a versatile language that some Chinese phrases (in fact, many!) are just made up of sounds that do not mean anything. Of course, I think the Chinese try to make each new phrase as meaningful as possible.

A case in point is Japanese sushi. “shòu” 寿 here refers to long, which accurately describes the sushi but the “long” here also refers to long life. I guess they know about the Japanese’ longevity diet and the Chinese put two and two together.

But “sī” (司)? I don’t get this because it refers to “company” or “organization”. Are they combining it with “shòu” 寿 for the sake of sounding like the word “sushi”? Or are they thinking along the lines of:

盎司 àng sī – ounce but a sushi definitely weighs more than an ounce
厨 司 chú sī – “chef” but sushi is a food item, not a person.

It’s mind-boggling alright!

Anyway, here’s some cake sushi we usually get at the bakery here. I buy it sometimes for breakfast. It’s quite yummy as it has pickled vege and meat floss in a swiss roll lined with nori sheets.

So, remember, if you ever go to China, don’t go around saying, “sushi! sushi?” because the Chinese waiters and waitresses will draw a blank. You must say shòu sī (寿司).