Taiwan has been westernized over long enough a period of time that there’s an increasingly large number of words for which the Taiwanese rely on English to some degree or another. What I’m talking about isn’t when people sprinkle English words into their sentences for whatever reason; what I’m talking is vocabulary items for which they never use Chinese, and for which they don’t know the Chinese.

One of those things is A菜, i.e., the “A” vegetable. Every Taiwanese grocery store I’ve ever seen sells A菜. Everybody knows what it is, and nobody knows what’s it’s called in Chinese. I myself eat it almost every day and yet, I had no clue there was a real Chinese name for it until I visited the mainland.

The A VegetableThe A Vegetable (and seafood tofu balls) Hosted on Zooomr

While I was in Shanghai, eating hotpot with John, and his wife (a Shanghai native), I mentioned “A菜”. Neither had ever heard of such a thing and found the name funny. Over the next couple of days, I asked several more Chinese people. Their reactions were all the same; they all thought it was hilarious. So, the question is, just how did “A菜” come to be known as “A菜”?

Update: Mark S. contributed a photo of A菜 in a labelled bag.