Yesterday I had a Chinese lesson through my school. I was quite happy that we had a structured lesson, and I was even happier when one of my coworkers joined me. We were given a dialogue where one person orders a hamburger and coke and one person takes their order, which is actually a pretty great starting point for teaching survival level Chinese.
I had to hide my giggles, though, when our teacher circled han bao (hamburger) and told us this was the most important word for foreigners like us to learn, since even if we couldn’t say anything else, we could just go into a restaurant and say han bao. I don’t really eat hamburgers or drink Coke, so those are fairly impractical words for me to learn. Skipping over the assumption that all foreigners eat only hamburgers at every meal, I can’t figure out what kind of restaurant that serves hamburgers, but doesn’t have an English menu, a picture menu, or a staff member able to recognize the English word hamburger. And without a bilingual menu or a photo of a hamburger, how would the hungry foreigners know hamburgers were even available?
P.S. I’ve illustrated this post with a photo of the perfectly nice pork-and-green-peppers I got today, while attempting to order pork-and-green-onions. No, the Chinese words aren’t even close, but I saw green on the menu and got confused. Guess I could have just found a han bao.