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Erik's on fire | Know China Learn Chinese

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2017-06-26 17:12

Erik is literally on fire, if the Chinese phrase is translated as shàng huǒ le.

Word by word, shàng is "on", huǒ is "fire", and le indicates a change of tense. But this doesn't mean he has caught flame.

It means he is hot — not in any of the conventional senses, but in terms of having too much heat or yáng — as in yīn and yáng — in his body.

It has nothing to do with temperatures that can be measured with a thermometer and, according to Chinese culture, is largely linked to food.

Now, many foreigners would guess chili peppers, hotpot and the like would be hot — and traditional Chinese medicine would agree. But few would guess that other hot foods would include such fruits as lychee and cherries (surprised?!).

You heard that right — a lot of fruit is hot according to Chinese beliefs, even if oranges are coming straight out of the fridge. Even the freezer. Still hot.

That said, even if cooked, other fruits are cold, in this case, bananas.

And some are neutral, like apples and peaches.

The idea here is to balance the yin and yang in your body for optimal health.

If you have too much heat, like Erik does, then you're shàng huǒ le. This causes skin problems on your face.

Too much cold, well, you can catch a cold.

Now, here's where things get tricky. You can have too much heat and too much cold at the same time.

Again, it's all about balance. But if you eat just these and other "hot foods", shàng huǒ le. For Erik himself, he needs to eat a banana to cool down.

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