The Food

Probably the hardest part of acclimating to Hong Kong for the kids and Benjy has been adjusting to the food. With nary a chicken finger or a cheese quesadilla in sight, the first couple of weeks were rough.  But, it’s amazing how quickly a growling tummy can broaden the taste bud horizons.  One of the first restaurants we ate at in Sai Kung was a dim sum restaurant.  The kids barely touched their food.  Now, three and a half months later, it’s one of their favorite restaurants in the area. 

Benjy and the kids have quickly had to learn how to use chopsticks.  All three started out with “training wheel” chopsticks that my sister had given them. 

chopsticks

As you could imagine, training wheel chopsticks in public are not at all cool, so those were swiftly jettisoned for the real deal.

 dad aaron eating

 As for me, I’ve discovered that, when it comes to the food in Hong Kong, I am in that respect (and, sadly, only in that respect), like Br’er Rabbit in the Briar Patch.  All the salted foods like these dried fish, shrimp, cuttlefish and oysters are quite familiar to me.   

dried fish

The heads on EVERYTHING are fine by me too. 

roasted duck

Living in Hong Kong has brought back gastronomic memories of the Filipino food I ate as a young child.  One of my favorite foods was bagoong (I’m opting out of providing the phonetic pronunciation for you) and green mangoes.  Bagoong is a Philippine condiment made of fermented baby shrimp and salt.  It’s the color of Pepto Bismal and it smells like, well, salmon-flavored cat food that’s been left out in the sun too long.  I also loved the oyster bagoong which looks like dark green slimy boogers (sorry for the graphic description, but I’m afraid it’s an accurate one) and I used to eat that with a bowl of steaming hot white rice.  After reading the foregoing, it is probably hard for you to believe that I was a picky eater as a child.  I’d barely eat any meat at all.   But, I’d eat bagoong with no complaints and I’d snack on dried fish, dried shrimp and cuttlefish similar to what’s in the picture above.  I confess as I write this my mouth is watering. :0)

I can remember my grandmother coming to visit us at our house in Meridian, MS.  We’d go fishing in a pond at a farm we owned and then she’d take the fish we caught and dry them in our backyard.  At the time, I didn’t think that it was odd at all to see fish hanging from our clothes line.  One year, we roasted a whole pig (head, snout, hoofs and all) on a bamboo spit for 3 days in our backyard in preparation for a party my parents were throwing.  Remembering it now makes me laugh and wonder what our neighbors must have thought of those crazy “Chinese people” drying fish and roasting a pig in their backyard.  It was the late 1970’s and it was Mississippi, so I’m sure we might as well have been from Mars to some of them.

So when I walk past this 

eggs

Duck egg yolks and fish drying in the sun 

And this 

shrimp

I feel right at home and I’m loving it.

 

Lest you think that I’ve forgotten the DOD photos, here is another shot I took. 

brush

These pooches live in my apartment complex.  Their names are Brush (on the left) and Fay(on the right).  In Hong Kong, it is a common custom for children to be named Chinese names at birth and then later, when they are older, they are permitted to choose a western name.  I was told by their human that Brush and Fay both have Chinese names, too, but I’d never be able to remember them. 

3 thoughts on “The Food

  1. Loved the culinary news! So glad to have your Mom back in Jax, but she had a wonderful time. Can’t wait to see you this summer!

  2. Loved the culinary news! So glad to have your Mom back in Jax, but she had a wonderful time. Can’t wait to see you this summer!

  3. Hello Tala and family, Glad you are enjoying the foods there as I know you have been indoctrinated by your mom and grandmom on different oriental dishes and foods and ways to prepare them. I loved the photos and descriptions, and it made me wonder what it all tasted like as well. Your grandmom loved to help WASP-folks like me when she visited you guys in Gulf Breeze , too. She dug up about 65 bamboo plants and potted them for me and Luz to take to our yards at our homes in SC and Mississippi. The plants still at my old home in Pensacola grew everywhere as fast as babies being born in the ghetto and keep the neighbors busy getting them out of their own yards. Same with the bamboo plants in Jackson, MS at Luz’s house where I visited 7 years ago. When I was in Japan in ’68 my first breakfast seemed soothing to read about; it was bream soup. I had jet lag and a head ache. The dish had a lid on the bowl, and I opened it up to see a fish head staring at me! So that did not go over well for one W-A-S-P, namely me. By the time I left Japan I was enjoying the whole array of oriental dishes and still do especially your Mom and Luz’s dishes. Keep having a ball !!!

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