Fresh baked “Fong Bao” from the oven – 方包出爐

Random musings & meditations straight from the oven. Hopefully some food for thought as well…

Archive for Hmm….. – 有感而發

一個孤獨的美食家正要找尋自己的深夜食堂

近期對圍繞食物提材的劇種感興趣。

上年尾無意中發掘了「深夜食堂」,深深被內容所吸引。簡單的食物,短短的三十分鐘,但是帶出的故事竟可以那麼的有趣,那麼的細膩,那麼的感人。很坦白,觀看完兩輯「食堂」後真的有點失落,希望不久的將來有第三,第四輯的出現。

同樣是漫畫改編,半小時的深夜劇「孤獨的美食家」正在日本播放中。方包也第一時間同步追看。初步的感覺是很佩服原作。提材不但是另類,甚至(可說)是前所未見。每一集的中段至尾聲都是看中年主角怎樣尋找和享受他的食物,不停地說「好味」。表面上很無聊,但出奇地精彩。更有趣是每一集出現的餐廳都不是虛構,而是真正存在的小店。

其實只要食物做得好,有心,吃飯是一種最簡單但經常被遺忘的享受。

正如劇的開場白所謂:「 不被世間和社會所束縛,幸福地填飽肚子的時候,短時間內變得隨心所欲,變得自由。誰也不打擾,毫不費神地吃東西的這種孤高行為。這種行為才是平等地賦予現代人的最大程度的治癒。」

不知不覺在市中心上班也有四個半月,感到自己代入了「美食家」的角色。每天的午飯時間就是要尋找自己想吃的食物和空間。有時更會留意其他食客的表情。請不要誤會,方包不是有什麼的企圖。正所謂相由心生,每個人的食相都會自然流露出他[她]當時的心態。方包只不過是對這點感興趣,別無它意。哈哈!

Item du jour

孤獨的美食家

http://www.letv.com/ptv/pplay/71171/1.html

深夜食堂

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xlsjqq_yyyy2-y01y-yyyy_shortfilms

The story of the re-useable Christmas crab

Some artists claimed to be inspired by the unlikeliest of things, at the most unusual of circumstances. In my case, here’s a tale about Christmas, a buffet and a plate of cold crab.

This Christmas my parents decided to eat out for a change and picked one of the restaurants located at the second floor of Aberdeen Centre. (To protect its identity, I shall call it ABC restaurant henceforth) Now ABC restaurant used be to decent until a recent ownership change turned it into an odd fusion restaurant…….of Hong Kong style & Chiu Chau style cuisine (港式 + 潮式). Just last week, Pie Pie Lo and I had dinner there with my In-Laws and were quite disappointed. Needless to say I was sceptical about what they have to offer on Christmas night.

It was a pre-booked dinner buffet with two sittings: 5:30pm & 8pm. My parents booked the early sitting and paid $28 per person whilst the later sitting cost three dollars less. As the evening unfolded, we were glad we paid the extra dollars.

This was one of the most “interesting” buffets I’ve ever had. You have the typical cold cuts, salad, lobster bisque, roast beef and turkey mixed in with taro fried rice, Singaporean vermicelli, sweet and sour pork, salted vegetables with pork stomach soup (咸菜豬肚湯) and cold sesame chicken. And as part of our dinner we were also given, amongst other things, two plates of Chiu Chau cold crab (潮洲凍蟹). For dessert, you have a choice of Tiramisu, crème brulee, taro stir fried in sugar (反沙芋) and fresh fruits. To be fair, some of the dishes were decent but for $28 dollars per person I was expecting something more.

At the end, we were all stuffed and realized we didn’t touch the two plates of cold crab. Now, any reasonable, non-wasteful family in this situation would ask to have the crabs packed away in a box to take home. We were no different but to our surprise, the waiter refused our request even though the crabs were given to us free of charge. We said we simply didn’t want to waste the food but the waiter came up with some sort of lame, health related excuse. So my grandpa and uncle dug into one of the crabs while the other one was taken away. Since we had a good view of the kitchen, we kept our eyes on it as it rested on the kitchen counter for the longest time. Puzzled and miffed, we tried to figure out the logic behind what the waiter had said.

Then it dawn on us.

One of the urban myths of Chinese restaurants was about to happen…….

Even though we have no definitive proof, we were quite certain our plate of untouched crab will be given to another table during the 8pm sitting and some poor kid will be chomping on a crab leg that we had breathed on all over.

Oh the humanity…….

Needless to say Pie Pie Lo and I have no plans to visit ABC restaurant again.

Dealing with anger and loving thy neighbour

Keeping a perspective while being angry and frustrated is a struggle regardless of age.

This past weekend I was perusing Facebook when I stumbled upon a note written by a young man from my Church. It was a measured and sensible piece about his reaction to the Stanley Cup riot and the people responsible for it. He brought up the aspect of forgiveness which has been ignored by a lot us who have been, to various degrees, condemning the rioters. Numerous stories on the fallout have since surfaced and now the challenge is whether our society will forgive and, more importantly, whether the rioters can, and truly will, learn from this experience. Strangely, Pie Pie Lo and I are now faced with a similar decision.

Our home is situated next to a predominately-rental apartment complex. Due to the transient nature of the tenants, “you never know what you gonna get” as a wise man once quipped while describing a box of chocolate. Unfortunately in our case we are stuck with an undesirable lot for now. A group of young people in their 20’s moved into a 3rd floor unit directly across from our studies – the west side of our unit – about a year ago. No different from a lot of their peers, they do enjoy their drinking and partying very much. During the warmer months their balcony would become gossip central, sometimes late into the night – 3 am in one instant as we struggled to get some rest. That being said, we’ve managed to acquire the ability to deal with unwelcomed noise ever since we’ve moved into our home – A lady living in the unit north of us likes to sing the same karaoke song repeatedly every night. But nothing prepared us for what happened later.

About nine months ago we noticed a couple of empty milk cartons lying outside our driveway. Pie Pie and I didn’t think too much of it but then one late Saturday night I was reading in the studies with my blinds down, window partly open when suddenly I heard a couple of loud BANGS and some giggling from the unit across. Those people had put fire crackers in the milk cartons and threw them over towards our driveway for kicks and a laugh. Since then the tossing of items have persisted on a fairly regular basis. From empty milk cartons, juice cartons & pop cans, from oranges, food scraps & turkey carcass, from empty beer keg, protein shake tubs filled with water to 4 litre milk jugs with milk still inside, the trash have gotten bigger, heavier and “sturdier”. The stuff is usually there in the morning when we head out to work but now we’re starting to see them when we come home from work. Try as I might, I could never catch those people right in the act with my own eyes but based on the noise coming out of their unit every time something landed on our driveway, I’ve a good idea that they are responsible. Sadly our strata council and the RCMP – we filed a case with them – couldn’t do anything tangible to stop them.

Words cannot describe how livid and upset I was when I heard the sound of the latest piece of garbage landing on my driveway yesterday just before dinner. I was seething as I cleaned up the mess while all these scenarios of “payback” flashed through my mind. Some were plausible while others were down right ridiculous. (Fire bomb anyone?) But the worst part was that hopeless feeling knowing we’ll have to endure this nonsense without any form of resolution until such time when these people move out of the unit. It also angers me to think that they will never realize how annoying their actions have been.

I was angry with rioters last Wednesday.

I’ve been angry with these people across my unit for nine months and I find it very difficult to extend any degree of grace and forgiveness towards them.

Perhaps this whole garbage ordeal is a reason why I’ve gotten grumpier in recent days. Think I’ve tapped into the fiery temper – of my late mother – that’s been dormant inside of me.

The challenge now is to remain calm and patient and hope that, some how some way, the garbage will stop landing on our driveway. Otherwise I may yet have to call Wile E Coyote for Acme Company’s phone number.

The True Spirit of Vancouver

The morning after the riot I took a different route to work and drove through the stretch of Georgia Street where most of the damage was done. I was pleasantly surprised by how clean it was given the circumstances. In retrospect I wished I had gotten out of my car for a moment because the true spirit of Vancouver was at work then. Many people from different walks of life, young and old, all gathered to help with the clean up efforts because they genuinely love and care about this beautiful city they called home. It was a simple yet powerful message of unity.

“Saw a young dad holding hands with his young son, both dirty from cleaning. I cried.”

@Kardboard via Twitter

*******

I spent some time today at “The Great Wall of Vancouver” outside The Bay downtown reading the messages left by Vancouverites. The words were poignant, emotional and I couldn’t help but feel a bit overwhelmed and contemplative afterwards.

P.S. An image that’s stuck in my head: A lady in a wheelchair outside The Bay writing positive messages on the pavement with a piece of chalk.

“As I went to bed with tears in my eyes and my son fearful of a city he loves, never wanting to watch a hockey game downtown again. I found myself bringing him downtown to show him that fear can be conquered and our city will be beautiful again. With a heavy heart I am truly sorry to “Boston” who should be the focus today, all those that wer hurt, the VPD and fire department and the countless businesses that were destroyed. I AM SORRY. Love, A single mom & her son!!!”

A night to remember in Vancouver…for the wrong reasons.

June 15th, 2011.

Unless you were in a cave at the time, I’m sure you know what happened by now. It was a mind numbing night on so many different levels.

From the game itself to the Stanley Cup trophy presentation which, for reasons unknown, I decided to watch in its entirety; the live shot of the first car burning outside Canada Post; a dejected couple in Canuck jerseys, holding hands with their heads down, walking quietly down my street as I drove off to pick up a late dinner; a small group of vocal fans leaving the Brighouse Canada Line station yelling “Eff Boston!”; the steady stream of riot pictures being posted on Twitter and shown through live TV coverage. Suffice to say it will take me some time to process all these disappointing and disturbing images.

I honestly thought it would end differently than 94. Sadly it wasn’t the case and a small group of masked, organized vandals and anarchists seized the moment and incited a young, anger-filled crowd to unleash a shameful act of destruction and looting in the downtown core. It was obvious most of these gutless punks who rioted were too young to remember the Robson street riot 17 years ago. What I don’t understand is where the venom came from. They were out of control and had no regard for the authorities.

Like all decent, law-abiding Vancouverites, I was deeply angered, embarrassed and ashamed by the stupidity of the few. (Btw, please have a look at this passionate plead from a friend of mine. I think he spoke for a lot of us.) Not only were our lives disrupted and threatened, our reputation as a city and the goodwill created during the 2010 Olympics had gone up in smoke, literally and figuratively.

And it sickens me when one of these idiots – who detailed his actions on Facebook but had his comments screen-captured and posted on the internet – opened a Twitter account today talking trash, boasting his exploits and showing no remorse. I sincerely hope the authority will (please excuse the language) nail his ass for what he has done.

I hope Vancouver will learn and, more importantly, remember this riot. We cannot let this happen again.

Going Through Hong Kong Withdrawal

It’s been almost a month since coming back from Hong Kong yet a part of me is still going through some sort of withdrawal. Interestingly, many people I know who went and came back as well shared the same sentiment.

If I were to summarize my trip it is one of “surprise”. Without the need to catch up on 18 years of progress and memories I was able to enjoy Hong Kong on my own terms and was struck by an unexpected appreciation for certain aspects of life there (relative to Vancouver): the efficiency of the transit system; the variety of dining and shopping options; the quality of museums (!); the cheaper prices, to name a few.

That being said, they are noticeable from a non-resident’s perspective. It is one thing to visit Hong Kong for pleasure, quite another when you have to live and work in the city. Let’s face it. I don’t think I can survive the hot, humid summers anymore, let alone the pace and demands of the work culture. So I’m very content to stay as a visitor.

There weren’t as many takeaways from this trip compared to the previous one but we were able to re-connect with our roots, something that’s becoming more important as we age. And in Pie Pie Lo’s case, some long lost friends. The re-connection and the reconciliation which followed were very encouraging and heartfelt and I’m very glad that it happened.

I also came to realize, in some ways, Hong Kongis like the old, forgotten cassette/CD/DVD/book/comics/whatever collection in my house. It’s there. Has been for a long time but is packed away in boxes somewhere in the garage/attic, neglected. At times, the thought of digging it out would cross my mind but rarely carry out. Yet when I do, I’m always surprised by what I find and the emotions that go along with it:  The joy of seeing old favorites; Giddiness over discovering the new or the never-knew-existed; Appreciation for the irreplaceable; Resignation over the loss of certain things and conditions; and disappointment of putting everything away once again. Hong Kong will always be full of these wonderful nuggets.

And if I have my way, it’d be nice to dig into them more frequently

Airline Food Memories

Airline food, for some reason, holds a strange appeal to me ever since I was a kid. Back in my youth in Hong Kong, our family would travel twice a year – usually long haul to Vancouver and the U.S.– and during those flights I always look forward to meal times with anticipation. Some of you may wonder: “Who in their right mind would eat, let alone clear a tray full of saucy, high sodium, overcooked of…whatever???”

That’s a valid question.

Back then it was a case of eating something I usually don’t get at home and without a point of reference I simply ate up what was offered.  It didn’t help that I liked my sauces so the beef tenderloin gravy often vanish without a trace. A flight attendant once marvelled at how clean my dish was.

The presentation – if I may call it that – also captured my imagination.

I liked how food of different shapes – cubed meat, potatoes in little spheres and various veggies in their unique likeness – are packed neatly inside a little ceramic dish. A principle I took heart when packing my pencil case for school.

That was my response then.

But as I stared into this latest tray of un-loved protein, carbs, etc, I came to realize that airline food was a reminder of those precious times when my family traveled, ate, spent extended time together. People often talked about how certain things invoke memories of their childhood. Who knew that airline food would be one of those for me.