U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Go Back   City-Data Forum > World Forums > Asia
 [Register]
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
Reply Start New Thread
 
Old 06-02-2016, 10:34 PM
 
Location: Portal to the Pacific
5,174 posts, read 5,117,306 times
Reputation: 6379

Advertisements

It's official! My husband has accepted a job offer that will eventually lead us to Shenzhen.

Although he'll be starting here and working through the American subsidiary soon, we won't actually make the move until late spring/early summer of 2017, so my children and I have a full year to prepare!

I want to learn to as much as possible about the culture, history and language.. what sorts of resources would you recommend?

Our community college offers introductory Chinese (and pinyin) and it's pretty close by... would this be preferred over a private company that caters to business professionals and tourists?

Just as overwhelming... I want to familiarize myself with basic Chinese cooking.. especially dumplings and noodles... what are common dish names I can look up online and learn recipes?

Speaking of food.. can I find the following: canned pizza sauce, white cheese, wheat flour, wheat tortillas, whole wheat sandwich bread, peanut butter, cocoa powder, chocolate chips, apples?
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

 
Old 06-02-2016, 11:55 PM
 
1,099 posts, read 1,672,990 times
Reputation: 971
How long will you be staying in Shenzhen? Chinese is not an easy language to learn, and it can take years to learn. Community college should be OK, as long as the instructor is competent and has a standard accent.

Shenzhen is just across the border from Hong Kong, and is near Guangzhou, but most people there speak Mandarin Chinese rather than Cantonese (Yue Chinese). Cantonese is the native language of Hong Kong and Guangzhou, but since Shenzhen is a new city with most people coming from other parts of China, people speak to each other in Mandarin Chinese (or putonghua, the "standard" language). Almost all Chinese lessons should be in Mandarin unless otherwise specified, so you should be fine there.

Not sure why you want to familiarize yourself with Chinese cooking. I have lived in a few places myself, and what I would do is to learn how to cook the "essential" food from back home instead, the ones you cannot find in any restaurant in that new place. If you want to eat Chinese food in Shenzhen, all you have to do is step out of the door and choose a restaurant.

I don't see any reason why you cannot find those grocery items in Shenzhen. There should be a Walmart and Carrefour there, as do most large cities in China. If you need something not in Shenzhen, it is almost sure you can hop on the train and buy them from Hong Kong. There is a limit of how much milk products you can bring over the border because due to the melamine scandal, a lot of people buy milk from Hong Kong instead.

To survive Shenzhen, I would suggest you should keep your passport/visa updated to be able to go to Hong Kong anytime. Cooking probably is not essential as people in Hong Kong hardly cook themselves nowadays. Rather, have your children learn how to eat with chopsticks. In Hong Kong, speak English rather than rudimentary Mandarin if you cannot speak Cantonese.

If you are from Grove City, I suggest you go to some Chinese restaurants in Pittsburgh, especially near U of Pittsburgh and CMU to familiarize yourselves with the food. Rice is the staple all over East Asia and people eat rice every day. There are a number of Asian stores in the Strip district, and you can readily buy ready-to-cook dumplings and such too.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 06-03-2016, 04:54 AM
 
Location: Guangzhou, China
9,783 posts, read 13,374,634 times
Reputation: 11313
Quote:
Originally Posted by flyingsaucermom View Post
It's official! My husband has accepted a job offer that will eventually lead us to Shenzhen.
Congratulations! I'm just an hour or so north of Shenzhen (SZ), in Guangzhou (GZ). I love it here, and my time here has been good to me... I got married to a local gal, we will have our first child in two months, and we have a popular Texmex restaurant and bar! Whenever you're feeling homesick (and, you will...), come on up and say hi!

Quote:
I want to learn to as much as possible about the culture, history and language.. what sorts of resources would you recommend?

Our community college offers introductory Chinese (and pinyin) and it's pretty close by... would this be preferred over a private company that caters to business professionals and tourists?
It couldn't hurt to take a community college course in the language and/or Chinese history, if it's offered. For your kids, I'd say the best thing to do would be to get them some age-specific books on Chinese history and culture, and also some DVD's or computer/phone based apps for learning the language - kids learn fast, the lucky buggers.

One app that I like is ChineseSkill. It's free, and good for kids or adults. Chinesepod has some good podcasts.

As far as the language itself goes: don't worry too much. I've known lots of people who took a year or two of Chinese prior to moving, then got here, and found that they didn't understand anything, and no one understood them. Having some background with it will help, for sure, but don't feel bad if you can't or don't master it before coming.

Quote:
Just as overwhelming... I want to familiarize myself with basic Chinese cooking.. especially dumplings and noodles... what are common dish names I can look up online and learn recipes?
A lot of Chinese cooking is actually super-simple. If you don't have a wok yet, get one (Ikea sells them for a few bucks if there's one near you; otherwise, any Asian grocery store should have some good ones for a decent price).

If you want to do any quick stir fries or things like that, basically you'll just heat the vegetable oil in the bottom of the wok, then throw in a couple chopped cloves of garlic for 10/15 seconds so that the oil is infused, then throw on top of that any meat; after a couple minutes of stirring or tossing, throw in your veggies and do the same. Add a couple pinches of salt and a few dashes of soy sauce, vinegar (white or dark)... with that basic method, you can cook countless dishes.

There are dumpling dough recipes online, and probably some videos on dumpling folding, too. My wife and I like to make dumplings stuffed with shredded kimchi (Korean fermented cabbage, also popular in China)... it can be time consuming to do a bunch, but makes a great family activity.

Quote:
Speaking of food.. can I find the following: canned pizza sauce,
Prety easily; there are WalMarts in SZ/GZ that sell canned Hunt's pasta sauce from the US, or little vacuum-sealed soft packs from their factory in the Philippines, which tastes exactly like the American stuff and is actually quite popular in China. There's not too much a difference between the pasta and pizza sauces.

NOTE: the WalMarts/TrustMarts here are owned by WalMart, but don't sell that many imported goods. In the US, I'd never go to a WalMart unless I had no choice... after moving here, I went into one in the hopes they'd have some American stuff, but they weren't really any better or worse than any other major chain like Park N Shop or Vanguard.

Quote:
white cheese,
99% of the cheese you'll see in Chinese supermarkets is processed, and available white or yellow. There's a popular brand here called Milkana that is a French company, but it's more or less like Kraft. You can't find real cheddar unless you go to an import store, but since you're in SZ, that shouldn't be hard. There's one in the Bao'an district called Metro, which is German owned, and they sell some higher-quality imported dairy.

Quote:
wheat flour,
Quite easily.

Quote:
wheat tortillas,
Not so easy to find. I order from the Mission factory in Shanghai to get my tortillas in commercial quantities and packaging; they do make them for retail purchase, but they don't sell them at any Chinese grocery stores. Metro does have them, in 10-inch sizes.

I also do sell tortillas retail, so if you're ever up here visiting, if you let me know a few days in advance, I can order a few packs for you to take back

Quote:
whole wheat sandwich bread, peanut butter,
No problem.

Quote:
cocoa powder, chocolate chips,
Again, at Metro or any other import shop, shouldn't be too hard. I've seen cocoa powder at some of the major grocers before, because baking cakes has become trendy with young women, but the vast bulk of people in China don't have ovens.

Which reminds me: chances are good that any housing provided by your husband's company won't have an oven or range. Ranges are considered high-ticket luxury items and you generally won't see them unless it's a brand-new, super-posh home or condo. If you get an unfurnished apartment, you could buy one yourselves - I know a couple people who have done this - but you'll need a Chinese friend or colleague to help you order it from an online vendor like Taobao or tmall. The easier thing to do is buy an electric toaster over, which come in fairly large sizes here (we have a 30 liter capacity one that's decent). Nearly all kitchens have two gas burners installed in the counter; if you want more, you can either buy a standalone convection burner, or one that uses propane.

Quote:
apples?
Oh, yes - no problem. Many of the markets I named sell Washington apples, but the locally-grown stuff is just fine. A lot of higher-income expats never venture into the fruit-and-veg wet markets, which is sad... because the produce there is super-fresh, and insanely cheap and often have really interesting stuff. In China, it's really rare to see refrigerated or frozen veggies - you won't see them in any of the stores. My wife thinks that refrigeration makes vegetables become toxic, and that reheated veggies will give you cancer... every neighborhood has a fruit and veg market where people stop by to get tonight's ingredients.

Also: since you will be in SZ, for a lot of the harder-to-find individual ingredients and products, you'll be able to hop over the border to HK and go to the grocers there (it takes about 45 min/an hour to get from the border to Kowloon), which have a much wider selection of imported and Western goods. A&M Groceries and Gateway in Central are great; there's a place called American Groceries in Mong Kok that mostly sells candy, snacks, etc that's good for that stuff.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 06-03-2016, 05:12 AM
 
Location: Guangzhou, China
9,783 posts, read 13,374,634 times
Reputation: 11313
Quote:
Originally Posted by GoldenTiger View Post
Rather, have your children learn how to eat with chopsticks.
Definitely. I have been using chopsticks since I was a toddler, and a) it comes in handy since most places here don't have forks or knives, and b) when Chinese people see foreigners using chopsticks, it's a great icebreaker and shows that even if you haven't learned much Chinese, you are at least willing to learn to eat like locals. A lot of Chinese people hear that foreigners are basically incapable of comprehending anything to do with Chinese culture, and there are no shortage of expats who are willing to back those stereotypes up... so, if you break them, that's great

Quote:
In Hong Kong, speak English rather than rudimentary Mandarin if you cannot speak Cantonese.
Definitely. If you do use some Mandarin while you're there (it's easy to "xiexie," "hao," or "wo buyao" when you're there out of habit), you probably won't catch too much flak for it. The first time I went, I reflexively said "ni hao" to the gals at a Circle K, and they giggled and answered back in near-Californian English, "Hey, do you live on the mainland?"

If you go up and fire off a sentence in Mandarin, though, someone might take offense since the Mandarin/Cantonese situation in HK has become quite political. HK, as well as the rest of Guangdong province, traditionally speak Cantonese, but China has been using Mandarin as the lingua franca for decades. HK missed that because they were under British rule, and have had English and Cantonese as their official languages; their school curriculum is moving towards teaching Mandarin as China tightens its grip on HK, and a lot of people aren't happy.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 06-03-2016, 07:08 AM
 
10,847 posts, read 11,283,905 times
Reputation: 7586
Quote:
Originally Posted by 415_s2k View Post
HK, as well as the rest of Guangdong province, traditionally speak Cantonese, but China has been using Mandarin as the lingua franca for decades. .
This doesn't apply to Shenzhen, which is a special case. While the majority speaks Cantonese in Guangzhou, it is only a minority in Shenzhen, where most residents come from other parts of China due to its late development. Less than 30% of daily conversation is expected in Cantonese.


Quote:
Originally Posted by 415_s2k View Post


If you want to do any quick stir fries or things like that, basically you'll just heat the vegetable oil in the bottom of the wok, then throw in a couple chopped cloves of garlic for 10/15 seconds so that the oil is infused, then throw on top of that any meat; after a couple minutes of stirring or tossing, throw in your veggies and do the same. Add a couple pinches of salt and a few dashes of soy sauce, vinegar (white or dark)... with that basic method, you can cook countless dishes.
good tips. You are essentially capturing how I had been cooking for the past 15 years, like 95% of the time :P
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 06-03-2016, 09:31 AM
 
Location: Portal to the Pacific
5,174 posts, read 5,117,306 times
Reputation: 6379
Wow! I will have to come back and look at this again and again!

-I don't know how long we will be there. He will have a C-level position in a Chinese company with no contract limitations. Historically my husband moves around a lot as he climbs corporate ladders, but there won't be much more room for growth at this point.

-I am highly motivated to learn Mandarin. I think it would be a complete disservice to the experience and my future neighbors if I don't at least try, but I know to have realistic expectations and that even two years of formal language study and still isn't workable knowledge... I did a BA in Spanish and after my second year traveled to Granada, Spain for 6 weeks... I couldn't understand anything! It was very, very different than the Spanish I heard at home (Texas).

-I am hoping we get an apartment with an oven... I prepare most of our food by hand and it's an important tool for me. This is in part why I am asking how to make Chinese food... I have time to experiment and see if I can reduce my reliance on ovens.

-My husband is Mexican and I grew up in Texas.... we will ABSOLUTELY make it a point to visit your Tex-Mex restaurant. Probably a lot
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 06-03-2016, 09:41 AM
 
Location: Miami-Jax
6,319 posts, read 6,987,783 times
Reputation: 3504
I'm excited for your family! You got lots of great advice. And eating out is very cheap and easy...it's sweet that you want to learn how to cook Chinese dishes but from a pragmatic standpoint not necessary. Also, Hong Kong has the best food in the world (imo) so once you've settled you can enjoy taking trips there just for the food. Speaking of eating/drinking, be prepared for upset stomach when you first arrive. It always takes me a few days to get adjusted. Remember to boil your water!
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 06-03-2016, 01:56 PM
 
1,424 posts, read 737,448 times
Reputation: 508
Quote:
Originally Posted by flyingsaucermom View Post
Wow! I will have to come back and look at this again and again!

-I don't know how long we will be there. He will have a C-level position in a Chinese company with no contract limitations. Historically my husband moves around a lot as he climbs corporate ladders, but there won't be much more room for growth at this point.

-I am highly motivated to learn Mandarin. I think it would be a complete disservice to the experience and my future neighbors if I don't at least try, but I know to have realistic expectations and that even two years of formal language study and still isn't workable knowledge... I did a BA in Spanish and after my second year traveled to Granada, Spain for 6 weeks... I couldn't understand anything! It was very, very different than the Spanish I heard at home (Texas).

-I am hoping we get an apartment with an oven... I prepare most of our food by hand and it's an important tool for me. This is in part why I am asking how to make Chinese food... I have time to experiment and see if I can reduce my reliance on ovens.

-My husband is Mexican and I grew up in Texas.... we will ABSOLUTELY make it a point to visit your Tex-Mex restaurant. Probably a lot
Chinese people use oven less, but you can buy a portable oven there if your apartment does not have one. I even have one in America, because I only cook for myself and it is faster than the big one.

China has many popular dishes less commonly found in the Chinese restaurants in America. For example, you can try the "water bolied fish" there, which is very spicy and is one my of favorites.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 06-03-2016, 05:06 PM
 
Location: Portal to the Pacific
5,174 posts, read 5,117,306 times
Reputation: 6379
Quote:
Originally Posted by yueng-ling View Post
Chinese people use oven less, but you can buy a portable oven there if your apartment does not have one. I even have one in America, because I only cook for myself and it is faster than the big one.

China has many popular dishes less commonly found in the Chinese restaurants in America. For example, you can try the "water bolied fish" there, which is very spicy and is one my of favorites.
I have a question about eating.... if you are eating a dish with meat and noodles in broth and you use chopsticks what is the proper way of drinking the broth? In Pho restaurants here they offer you both chopsticks for the noodle, vegetables and meat and an elongated spoon for the broth. In China is this also common or is it okay to pick up the bowl with your hands and sip from it with your mouth?
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 06-03-2016, 05:55 PM
 
1,099 posts, read 1,672,990 times
Reputation: 971
Quote:
Originally Posted by flyingsaucermom View Post
I have a question about eating.... if you are eating a dish with meat and noodles in broth and you use chopsticks what is the proper way of drinking the broth? In Pho restaurants here they offer you both chopsticks for the noodle, vegetables and meat and an elongated spoon for the broth. In China is this also common or is it okay to pick up the bowl with your hands and sip from it with your mouth?
Use a Chinese soup spoon for liquids.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_spoon
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.


Reply
Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

Quick Reply
Message:

Over $104,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > World Forums > Asia
Similar Threads
Follow City-Data.com founder on our Forum or

All times are GMT -6.

2005-2019, Advameg, Inc. · Please obey Forum Rules · Terms of Use and Privacy Policy · Bug Bounty

City-Data.com - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35 - Top