Chinese love giving unique names to their dishes. Sometimes the name may come from a historical or cultural story. However, there is another situation related to one of the Chinese rhetorical usages – the metaphor. It could be either direct or indirect metaphor.
I have collected some special dish names for you, and all those names are translated directly, which means they are expressed in the original meaning of the Chinese. They could come from folk stories or the metaphor of the taste or appearance of the dishes.
Husband Wife Lung Slices (夫妻肺片). This dish is not cannibalism (of course), but thinly sliced bovine lung, tongue, or some other cut, seasoned with chili oil.
Ants climb trees (蚂蚁上树). This vermicelli with spicy minced pork. When the tiny minced pork are sprinkled on the slender vermicelli, just like there are plenty of ants climbing on the trees.
Field chicken (田鸡). This is not the running chicken that can be found in a farmyard. Field chicken is the folk name of the bullfrogs in China. Since the bullfrog’s tender meat is exactly like the chicken, so it called field chicken. Bullfrog is a popular food in China. So there are plenty of companies foster the bullfrog that is especially for commercial use.
Drooling chicken (口水鸡). This is a very typical Sichuan dish. The mainly characteristic of Sichuan dishes is spicy, so Drooling chicken is a description of the taste of the chicken itself – whenever you think about this spicy chicken, you will drool.
Rolling Donkey (驴打滚): Rolling donkey is a traditional snack in Beijing. People will use the soy flour to make the soft waxy dough. Then, press the dough into strips, add red bean fillings on it and roll them into a roll. So how could this relate with donkey? The elders say that there is the last process of this snack – sprinkle soy flour on it. When people sprinkle the yellowish soy flour, it looks like the yellow sand kicked by the wild donkey’s hoofs. Then this snack gets its unique name – rolling donkey in Chinese.