Easy Chinese Characters - 菜(cài)

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Literally, 菜(cài) means “vegetable” which contains the grass radical (艹). The bottom component (采) means “pick up” and also suggests the sound. So the story is that people pick up (采) the VEGETABLE (菜) in grass (艹). Vegetable is now extended to mean dish in general. 中国(zhōng guó) is “China” so 中国菜 means “Chinese cuisine”.