Week 2, Day 1″Qǐng wǒ xiǎng yīgè sānmíngzhì”

Week 2, Day 1 starts with a subject I’m quite familiar with: Coffee.

My attempts to practice Mandarin Chinese in my every day life continue, even as I fail to actually update recollections of those attempts in a timely manner.

The first day of Chinese Learning “Week 2” began with a subject I know my way around fairly well, due to caffeine addiction: Ordering libations in a coffee shop.

Coffee shops (Kāfēi diàn) can be found in abundance in Shanghai: Starbucks and Costa Coffee reign, but there are plenty of cute café’s and lounges around for people who would prefer to not sit inside noisy and constantly-packed chain establishment (In China, it’s acceptable – or at least, passively accepted – for patrons to buy one coffee and then sit down and occupy a table all day long. Needless to say, it’s often difficult to find a seat.)

Western-style coffee shops are more difficult to find outside of first or second-tier cities. Outside of those areas, Chinese-style coffee houses (chá guàn) are more prevalent. From what I remember in Jinan, they were more like restaurants and tended to focus on tea rather than coffee.
Hence the vocabulary for the first day of week 2: I can now order three varieties of tea, instead of my usual request: Chá (just “tea”. No specification.)

I usually prefer Lǜchá (green tea), but I also like the occasional cup of hóngchá as well (red tea, a tasty and similarly caffeinated alternative to green tea). I don’t really enjoy mòlìhuā chá, but I suppose it’s still good to know the word (Jasmine tea).

This is the best word I learned this morning: sānmíngzhì
It’s a food item. If you had three guesses, you could probably guess the food item, because it sounds rather similar to the English word – sandwich.

I love noodles (miàn), rice (mǐfàn), dumplings (jJiǎozi) and all of the delicious and readily available varieties of Chinese food available in my neighborhood. But what can I say, I’m still an American girl at heart, and I really love my sānmíngzhì. Especially if it’s a zǎocān sānmíngzhì breakfast sandwich (breakfast sandwich).

Although I’ve known how to order food for about as long as I’ve lived in China, I’ve always relied on using the form Wǒ yào… (I want coffee! I want dumplings!) Now I know how to politely say, Qǐng wǒ xiǎng hē bēi kāfēi (I’d like a cup of coffee, please).

Now, excuse me while I go out and order a sandwich.

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