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HomeModern Chinese EssaysJi Xianlin's Essay: The Shanghai Food Market -- 季羡林《上海菜市场》

Ji Xianlin’s Essay: The Shanghai Food Market — 季羡林《上海菜市场》

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上海菜市场

◎ 季羡林

上海尽有看不够数不清的高楼大厦[1],跑不完走不尽的大街小巷,满目琳琅的玻璃橱窗,车水马龙的繁华闹市;但是,我们的许多外国朋友却偏要去看一看早晨的菜市场。这是完全可以理解的。我们刚到上海的时候不是也想到菜市上去看一看吗?

那还是几年前的一个早晨,在太阳刚刚升起来的时候,踏着熹微的晨光[2],到一个离开旅馆不远的菜市场去。

到了邻近菜市场的地方,市场的气氛就逐渐浓了起来。熙熙攘攘的人群,摩肩擦背,来来往往。许多老大娘的菜篮子里装满了蔬菜海味鸡鸭鱼肉。有的篮子里活鱼在摇摆着尾巴,肥鸡在咯咯地叫着。老大娘带着一脸笑意,满怀愉快,走回家去。

一走进菜市场,仿佛走进了另一个世界。这里面五光十色[3],令人眼花缭乱。但是,仔细一看,所有的东西却又都摆得整整齐齐,有条不紊。菜摊子、肉摊子、鱼虾摊子、水果摊子,还有其他的许许多多的摊子,分门别类,秩序井然,又各有特点,互相辉映。你就看那蔬菜摊子吧。这里有各种不同的颜色:紫色的茄子、白色的萝卜、红色的西红柿、绿色的小白菜,纷然杂陈,交光互影。这里又有各种不同的线条:大冬瓜又圆又粗,豆荚又细又长,白菜的叶子又扁又宽。就这样,不同的颜色、不同的线条,紧密地摆在一起,于纷杂中见统一。我的眼一花,我觉得,眼前不是什么菜摊子,而是一幅出自名家手笔的彩色绚丽、线条鲜明的油画或水彩画。

不只菜摊子是这样,其他的摊子也莫不如此。卖鱼的摊子上,活鱼在水里游泳,十几斤重的[4]大鲤鱼躺在案板上。卖鸡鸭的摊子上,鸡鸭在笼子里互相召唤。卖肉的摊子上,整片的猪肉、牛肉和羊肉挂在那里。还为穆斯林设了卖牛、羊肉的专柜。在其他的摊子上,鸡蛋和鸭蛋堆得像小山,一个个闪着耀眼的白光。咸肉和板鸭成排挂在架子上,肥得仿佛就要滴下油来[5]。水果摊子更是琳琅满目。肥大的水蜜桃、大个儿西瓜、又黄又圆的香瓜、白嫩的鲜藕,摆在一起,竞妍斗艳[6]。我眼前仿佛看到葳蕤的果子园、十里荷香的池塘、翠叶离离的瓜地。难道这不是一幅美妙无比的图画吗?

说是图画,这只是一时的幻象。说真的,任何图画也比不上这一些摊子。图画里面的东西是死的、不能动的。这里的东西却随时在流动。原来摆在架子上的东西,一转眼已经到了老大娘的菜篮子里。她们站在摊子前面,眯细了眼睛,左挑右拣,直到选中了自己想买的东西为止。至于价钱,她们是不发愁的,因为东西都不贵[7]。结果是皆大欢喜,在一片闹闹嚷嚷的声中,大家都买到了中意的东西。她们原来的空篮子不久就满了起来。当她们转回家去的时候,她们手中的篮子也像是一幅美丽的图画了。

我们的外国朋友是住在旅馆里的,什么东西都不缺少。但是他们看到这些美丽诱人的东西,一方面啧啧称赞,一方面又跃跃欲试,也都想买点什么。有人买了几个大香瓜[8],有人买了几斤西红柿,还有人买了一些豆腐干。这样就会使本来已经很丰富的餐桌更加丰富多彩。我们的外国朋友也皆大欢喜了。

《上海菜市场》是季羡林先生写于1963年9月的一篇随笔。作者60年代从北京南下走访上海,当地丰富多彩的菜市场曾使他惊叹不已。所作描述淋漓酣畅,富于艺术想象。

[1]“看不够数不清的高楼大厦”可按“无数引人注目的高楼大厦”译为countless eye-catching skyscrapers。也可译为numerous spectacular highrises。

[2]“踏着熹微的晨光”可译为I went at the first light或I went at dawn(daybreak)。

[3]“五光十色”可译为the rich assortment of hues and colors或the mixture of various colors。

[4]“十几斤重的”译为more than five kilos。“斤”通常译为catty,现改用kilo(公斤)表达,以便与国际重量单位接轨。

[5]“肥得仿佛就要滴下油来”译为seemingly dripping with fat,其中seemingly作“仿佛”、“貌似”等解。

[6]“竞妍斗艳”译为vying with each other to be the most beautiful。此语也可译为vying with each other for eminence(或distinction等),其中eminence和distinction作“出众”、“卓越地位”等解。

[7]“至于价钱,她们是不发愁的,因为东西都不贵”中的“价钱”未译为prices,是为了避免句中词的重复,现改用the purse(钱包),作“钱”、“钞票”解。又,reasonable prices是常用语,作“售价公道”、“不贵”解。

[8]“几个大香瓜”译为a couple of muskmelons,其中短语a couple of作“几个”、“三两个”解。

The Shanghai Food Market

◎ Ji Xianlin

Shanghai has countless eye-catching skyscrapers and innumerable streets and lanes, with beautiful shop windows and busy market quarters. Nevertheless, many foreign friends of mine would rather pay a morning visit to the food markets there. That is understandable. Didn’t we ourselves choose to go and see a food market there on our first visit to the city?

It was on an early morning of several years ago, when the sun was just coming up, that I went at the first light to see a food market near the hotel where I was staying.

The nearer I went, the more prevalent the atmosphere of the food market. The surrounding streets were thronged with shoppers milling around. The shopping baskets carried by many elderly women were filled with vegetables, seafood, chickens, ducks, fish and meat. Some fish were wagging their tails and some hens clucking. The elderly women, with a happy smile spread across their faces, were on their way home.

Once inside the market, I felt like landing in a new world. The rich assortment of hues and colors were dazzling. All goods were kept neat and tidy and arranged in perfect order be they at a vegetable stall, meat stall, seafood stall, fruit stall, etc. And each stall, being specialized, showed a characteristic of its own. Take for example the vegetable stall with its display of colors: purple eggplants, white radishes, red tomatoes, greenish cabbages. It also displayed various shapes: round clumsy wax gourds, long narrow bean pods, flat wide cabbage leaves. Hence, different colors and lines merged into an organic whole showing diversity in unity. I looked here and there until my eyes became blurred, taking the vegetable stall for an oil painting or a watercolor with distinct colors and lines done by a famous painter.

The same was true of other stalls. At fish stalls, live fish were swimming in the water and big carps weighing more than five kilos each were lying on chopping boards. At poultry stalls, caged chickens and ducks were making a lot of noise to greet each other. At meat stalls, chunky pieces of pork, beef and mutton were hung up. There were also special counters selling beef and mutton to Moslems. At some stalls, chicken and duck eggs of a glistening white were piled high up like small hills while rows of bacon and salted duck, seemingly dripping with fat, were hung out on racks. The fruit stalls were even more attractive. Arrayed side by side were juicy honey peaches, plump watermelons, yellow round muskmelons, fresh tender lotus roots, vying with each other to be the most beautiful. It seemed as if I saw unfolding before me luxuriant orchards, fragrant lotus ponds, leafy green melon patches. Wasn’t it a painting of matchless beauty?

It was, however, more of a transient illusion than a painting. To tell the truth, no painting could ever compare with these stalls. Things in a painting were fixed and immovable while goods at a stall were always on the move. Things on the display shelf would, before we knew it, soon find their way to the elderly women’s shopping baskets. Standing before a stall, the elderly women would narrow their eyes and pick and choose until they decided on what they wanted to buy. They never worried about the purse because all food was selling at reasonable prices. Shopping was done in the hubbub of the market to the satisfaction of all. Everybody got what they needed, their shopping baskets filled to the brim. While the elderly women were on their way home, the shopping baskets they carried in their hands also looked like beautiful paintings.

Our foreign friends, putting up at hotels, were provided with everything they needed. But, when they saw the captivating food market, they clicked their tongue in admiration and were eager to do a bit of shopping there by themselves. Some of them bought a couple of big muskmelons, some bought several kilos of tomatoes, some bought some dried bean curds. To the satisfaction of all, the new acquisitions added to the richness and variety of their already abundant table.

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