Food: Lesson 1 (Vocabulary)

Food, one of my favorite things in the world. I wanted to start with a lesson that is close to my heart.

There are a couple of podcasts you can listen to as reference for this lesson:

  • If you have been studying Chinese for less than 6 months you should probably listen to “I’m Hungry, You Fools!” (If you haven’t signed up for Popup Chinese you should do so, it’s easy and free). If you are subscribed to Chinese Pod try the Newbie lessons 5 and 17. Don’t even bother with Melnyk’s Podcast, Popup Chinese is much better.
  • If you are at a higher level listen to “The Sauce“. It’s a great lesson, also a bit advanced. I think I’m starting to really like the Popup Chinese site, it has a northern accent, seems like it’s also more colloquial. If you are subscribed to Chinese Pod try the Elementary lesson 217 or Intermediate lesson 162.

These podcasts don’t correspond to my lesson, they are more of a listening exercise. I believe in something like eclectic learning. Sticking to only one source is easy, but there are a lot of things that you can miss out on. Think of it as a kind of immersion simulation.

Now download the Vocabulary Lesson 1. I left a blank sheet by mistake, but you can use it to write down more vocabulary.

I provided the complete definition for all the words and the underlined definition is the one most related to the subject.


  • There are 3 ways to say restaurant. If you were to look up the characters separately you’d see that :

    • 厅-Refers to a hall so it could also be a cafeteria
    • 馆-I learnt it as “shop” but it can also refer to more official places
    • 店-Simply a shop or store
      • You might think that a 餐馆 is probably a more formal, but actually 饭店 is the fancy one because it also means hotel.
      • 餐厅 May refer to the dining hall in a university, company, etc. It seems that this is the more common way to refer to a typical restaurant.
  • What’s up with 菜 and 饭?They both mean food, but notice that 饭 also means rice. According to “Learning Chinese: A Foundation Course in Mandarin Julian K. Wheatley, MIT.” (Check Unit 4 Section 11) The extended meaning of 饭 is also staples, whereas 菜, which also means vegetables, extends to dishes which accompany the staples. That’s probably why they say “吃饭” and not “吃菜”.
  • Again with 想 and 要 we have similar meanings “want”, but as is usually said 要 is more demanding, expressing a stronger desire. I always remember the difference with the distinction: “我想你” (I miss you) vs “我要你” (I want you).
  • For the use of 请 as “please” it should be at the beginning of the sentence.
  • I think it’s super silly that 面 is both “noodles” and “face”. What do they have to do with each other? It seems that at one point 面 as “noodles” had a different character.
  • The character 还 is actually a bit flexible, vast… For now, just think of it as a kind of “also”.
  • In China the default meat is pork so if you just say 肉 they’re going to think you’re talking about pork (I like that, I’m a big pork fan). Also, the more complete way of talking about certain meats is to add 肉 after the type of animal, e.g., 鸡肉 (chicken).
  • Chinese people eat duck eggs, so if you want just normal eggs make sure you’re getting 鸡蛋.



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