Mystery of the Yellow Melon

Bamboo Scaffolding in Shanghai China. By Cate Carter-Evans It's been a hot and beautiful week. The garden has needed to be watered every day, and it's given me a great excuse to be out and about in the shady lanes near my home.

This bamboo scaffolding is one of the fun discoveries of these little walks. The uprights come right out to edge of the sidewalk, making a slalom course for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Clams at Shanghai Street Market. Photo by Cate Carter-Evans

Late Summer brings Hairy Crab season. I'm seeing more clams and eels at the market stalls, as well as birds - the ban on live poultry due to bird flu has finally been lifted. Chinese Cucumbers. Photo by Cate Carter-Evans

A food-related language mystery was cleared up for me this week. I had always wondered why "cucumber" was translated as "yellow melon" or "huangua" when it's not yellow.

I stand corrected.

There are at least three kinds of Chinese cucumbers. There are smooth-skinned small ones which are great for pickling, rough-skinned long ones like a European cucumber, and then these massive (and yes, very yellow) ones that look like a traditional American cucumber.

Melons are a very big deal in Chinese food. Some of the many kinds include kugua (bitter melon), nangua (south melon) which is a sort of pumpkin, and xigua (west melon) which is watermelon.

Watermelon is really popular - it's traditionally served for dessert after the evening meal.