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My experience with tofu in the US is limited to trendy hipster cafes with snarky tatted-up bartenders and grouchy feminist vegans. Hmm, I wonder why I never fell in love with the stuff??…until CHINA. In China, tofu is not a “meat alternative”; it is its own food category and it comes in a dizzying array of sizes, shapes, textures and colors.
Not only is this eco-friendly (yes, I said it!) and versatile foodstuff consumed everywhere in China from after bar barbeques to fine Shanghainese restaurants, it is also a snack that you can throw in your bag and eat later- the way that we Americans might do with a bag of potato chips or a banana.
To be honest I thought that I would never eat one of these shrink-wrapped, suspicious-looking snack packs but my darling co-worker Hollie in all her infinite wisdom decided that it was about time we ate this thing. Here we are digging in…
If you’ve eaten something like this, share your pics on Instagram and tag @WrittenChinese
Joytofu Snack Attack
Here is the snack that Hollie picked. It’s got a lot of Chinese written all over the packaging so let’s dissect each bit and figure out what it all means.
- First, we have the company name in Chinese, 香香嘴 (xiāngxiāngzuǐ) which literally means “fragrant fragrant mouth”, but it has been changed to Joytofu in English, thankfully.
- 卤制豆腐干 (lǔ zhì dòu fu gān) is the description of the snack which translates to dried tofu that has been stewed in soy sauce and spices. Sounds tasty!
- Joytofu makes different flavors of this stuff and Hollie chose 麻辣味 (málàweì) which means “spicy and hot flavor”. This 麻辣 (málà) refers to the use of spicy peppers in combination with the so-called Sichuan pepper, which turns your mouth numb and kind of tastes like soap. Some love it, some hate it but not to worry, those who hate it can learn to love it!
- Lastly, we have the cute little slogan, 快乐吃出来 (kuàilèchīchūlái) which means “Eating creates happiness”. Now if that doesn’t make you want to try this tofu snack, I don’t know what will!
Tofu Snack Vocabulary Cheat Sheet
Here are a few words you might want to remember that go along with this snack. Don’t forget, you can click the “+” symbol while logged-in to our web dictionary to add these words to your flashcards. They’ll sync with the Written Chinese Dictionary app and you can study them on the go.
豆腐 (dòufu) tofu
吃 (chī) to eat
快乐 (kuàilè) happy
辣 (là) hot (spicy)
麻辣 (málà) hot and numbing
花椒 (huājiāo) Sichuan pepper / Chinese prickly ash
Let us know what your favorite Chinese snack on the go is! Have you tried one of these tofu packs before? Tell us your story in the comments section below!
In case you missed it…
Chinese 101: A Big Pile of Steamed Dumplings
Chinese 101: Let Them Eat Chicken Feet
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