In Chinese, food, based on its shape or property, is often used to describe the appearance, psychology, behavior, likes or dislikes of a person through metaphor, exaggeration and metonymy.
In Chinese, food is always used to describe a beauty. A beauty can have杏仁眼 (xìnɡ rén yǎn, almond-shaped eyes), 樱桃小嘴 (yīnɡ táo xiǎo zuǐ, a small cherry-like mouth), 瓜子脸 (ɡuā zǐ liǎn, sunflower-seed-shaped face), 鹅蛋脸 (é dàn liǎn, goose-egg-shaped face), 鸭蛋脸 (yā dàn liǎn, duck-egg-shaped face), or 指如柔葱 (zhǐ rú róu cōnɡ, scallion-like tapering fingers), which are vivid and interesting.
外貌、身材 Appearance & figure
Also, food is used to describe one who has a bad appearance or figure. "脸像橘子皮" (liǎn xiànɡ jú zi pí), "an orange-peel-like face" literally, refers to a wrinkled face; "蒜头鼻" (suàn tóu bí) or a garlic-like nose refers to a big and flat nose; "豆芽菜" (dòu yá cài) or "bean sprouts" is a metaphor for a skinny person; "三块豆腐高" (sān kuài dòu fu ɡāo, as tall as three bars of piled tofu) and "矮冬瓜" (ǎi dōnɡ ɡuā, as short as a wax gourd) are used to describe one who is both short and fat.
"软面团" (ruǎn miàn tuán) or "soft dough" refers to a cowardly and incompetent person. "刀子嘴, 豆腐心" (dāo zi zuǐ, dòu fu xīn), "a knife-like mouth, a bean curd-like heart" literally, means "sharp-tongued but tender-hearted". "空心萝卜" (kōnɡ xīn luó bo) or "hollow radish" is a metaphor for a useless person.
食物的特点 Features of food
In Chinese, the features of food can also be used figuratively.
Comparatively, Chinese people are fond of oily food, so "肥" (féi, fat) and "油" (yóu, oil) mean "gains" or "benefits" extendedly. "肥水不流外人田" (féi shuǐ bù liú wài rén tián) means "Every miller draws water to his own mill". "捞油水" (lāo yóu shuǐ) means "line one's pockets".
Also, oil is slippery, so it often means "foxy" extendedly. "老油条" (lǎo yóu tiáo) or "a deep-fried dough stick" is a metaphor for "a foxy old hand or a sophisticate".
Flour is loose and fluffy, so it is often used as a metaphor for a slowcoach. "你真面" (nǐ zhēn miàn) or "面瓜" (miàn ɡuā) means "someone is a slowpoke".
Vinegar is sour, so "醋坛子" (cù tán zi) and "醋瓮" (cù wènɡ), both meaning "vinegar jar", refer to a rather jealous woman, and "醋意大发" (cù yì dà fā) means "outbreak of jealousy".
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