When you’re living abroad, sometimes it can be difficult to find certain comfort foods that you miss from back home. For example dairy products hardly feature in traditional Chinese cuisine, so good cheese can be expensive and hard to come by.
On the other hand pb&j sandwiches, one of my personal favorites, aren’t too difficult to make. I was making myself a snack when I noticed some things on the peanut butter jar that made me realize that China definitely has the right idea about peanut butter.
First Skippy (the most widely available brand) is translated as 四季宝，pronounced sì jì bâo (my keyboard doesn’t have the proper 3rd tone marker so I’ve flipped it). If you really strain your ears then sìjìbâo is about as close of a phonetic approximation of Skippy as we can get in Chinese.
What makes it great though is that it translates to English as “four seasons treasure.” That’s right. No matter the time of year, peanut butter is a treasure trove of taste.
Then on the back of the jar are instructions for consumption.
The first reads 涂面包 (tú miànbāo), or spread on bread.
The second is 火锅蘸料 (huôguō zhànliào), hot pot dipping sauce.
The third is 传统冷面 (chuántông lêngmiàn), traditional cold noodles.
And of course they saved the best for last. Number four 直接食用 (zhíjiē shíyòng), eat it directly.
So while some western foods may be tough to get your hands on in China, there’s no lack of lovin for the peanut butter.