ON MY RECENT visit to the Philippines I went into a restaurant and saw a sign on the wall offering diners
I told the waiter that chickens didn’t have bottoms.
He told me that they did, although they were very, very small. He advised me not to order this if I was hungry. You live and learn.
The other day, reader Chris Huber told the gang he was offered a baffling dish called “The Chicken Entropy” in Tangxia, a town in southern China.
Since “entropy” usually refers to the way objects dissolve into their constituent elements, this can only be chicken which has been so dramatically over-cooked that it has become a random cluster of molecules. (I have eaten this dish many times at my office canteen.)
The fact is, lots of so-called “menu mistakes” in Asia are not mistakes at all, I reckon. Consider:
“String beans with a strange flavor”
That’s something I’ve seen so often in China that I know it’s not a misprint.
Some people must just like their beans sprinkled with surprising substances.
What worries me is that the bizarreness factor will have to escalate over time.
DINER: “You call this strange? I have beans with powdered rhino-horn daily.”
WAITER: “Very well sir, I’ll bring you the one with liquefied yeti toenail clippings.”
(Chips are unhealthy carbs, can I have it with the sheeps instead?)
A reporter for NBC News recently found a dish in Beijing called
“Tofu Made By Woman With Freckles”.
Just as Cuban cigars are said to be good because they are “rolled on the thighs of virgins”, so clearly this mystery lady improves the flavor of tofu.
I phoned a doctor to ask how this could work. She said: “Food made by a freckled woman wouldn’t taste any different. If her touch really alters the taste, the spots on her face must be something much more serious.”
Whoah! Clearly a dish to avoid!
(Above: “Chicken” is 3.70, “Real Chicken” is 6.75)
A Chinese reader named Clara wrote to tell me of a restaurant which used Google Translator and ended up offering on its menu:
“Four Glad Meatballs”
Diners probably assumed they had been picked out of a selection of unhappy, depressed meatballs in the kitchen.
Reader Ram Venkat, writing from Taiwan, sent me a picture of a sign, the English portion of which said:
“Translate Server Error”.
Ah, yes. Now this happens all the time all over Asia. The most common conversation in sweatshop signpost factories in this part of the world is this.
BOSS: “Hey, lowly sweatshop worker! Use the office computer to find the English words for ‘Turn Left for China-India Highway Route Seven’.”
LOWLY SWEATSHOP WORKER: “Yes, boss. The answer is ‘404 Page Not Found’.”
BOSS: “Well, what are you waiting for? Get to work! English is a STRANGE language.”
Our friend from NBC was particularly baffled by
“Hand-Shredded Ass Meat”.
This turned out to be a semi-accurate translation of the original name “shredded donkey”.
Not sure if that is any more appetizing than the original.
Meanwhile back to the scene in the Philippines. The island I was on is popular with African-American tourists.
A beautiful place called Negros (pronounced Neg-Ross), it is full of signs saying things like “Welcome to Negros.”
Visitors from the politically correct United States find themselves laughing.
(Want to try “carrot in chef” sauce?) Source
Click here for Chris’s menu collection