At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


After a repast consisting of a steamed chicken bun and cheung fan, I pulled out a pipe and some of Greg Pease's latest (Navigator) and was packing the bowl in anticipation of a long dawdling amble down Stockton Street.
Still had coffee left, so it would be a few more minutes.

An elderly woman at the counter had ordered a bowl of noodles with meat chunks on top, and when it came, enthusiastically set about dolling it up with ground white pepper, hot sauce, and hoisin jeung. Bear in mind that this particular place until recently did not have Sriracha ("cock sauce") in the plastic squeeze bottle, but simply had jars of sambal oelek on their condiment trays.
The hoisin was also an innovation.

[Cock-sauce: the affectionate nickname for SriRacha hotsauce manufactured by Huy Fong Foods Corporation (滙豐食品公司) in Rosemead, Southern California.]

Now they probably go through crate after crate of Sriracha; they may have to raise their prices slightly to cover the expense.
But it's probably pleased any number of repeat patrons. All over Chinatown, Mr. Tran's bottle is capturing hearts and minds. At present you see it in cha chanteng, regular restaurants, snack food places, and even dim sum houses.
The sauce is quite addictive.


Judging by the humongous amount the woman was sploodging on her noodles, she was a hard-core chili junkie. Remarkable for a Chinatown lady of her generation, but it may explain why she was eating by herself. Oh, the secret shameful passion, oh the orgiastic overload! Oh the sheer intemperance of her actions!
Lady, you're older than me! You should be calmer and more restrained!
Not given to such outrageously over-the-top indulgence.
It's shocking, is what it is! Think of the children!
Oh and by the way - enjoy your meal.
I used as much on my bun.
Good stuff, eh?

I may have mentioned in the past that I like watching women eat. Particularly if they're Cantonese, because unlike White women, who always have that air of "I'm gonna get fat! if I eat something nice" usually coupled with perfectly Wasp tastes, Cantonese women want to have fun with their food. Oh boy Jesus yes.
They may have yielded the best morsels to their brothers and elders while growing up, and if they have husbands, boyfriends, or lovers, the pattern still holds.
But when they're noshing by themselves there is absolutely no filter.
Mine, dammit, and I'm going to enjoy every frickin bite!

One imagines a happy forest creature dancing with chopsticks held aloft around a steaming bowl of meaty goodness. Yay! Yay! Yay!

Someday I will have to ask an office lady in the financial district whether she truly likes that bowl of limp lettuce with flavourless overcooked shredded chicken breast and a drizzle of low-fat raspberry balsamic hooha, or if it's merely filler for an empty spot in her stomach and her soul.
Sweetheart, if you REALLY want salad, have something made with mayonnaise, chunks of smoked pork, garlic, and anchovies. And warm potatoes. Don't worry about what your breath smells like, you're going back to the office, and I hope you ain't planning to kiss anyone till evening. Not while you're at work.
Take a cigar and a cup of espresso too, while you're at it.
Enjoy life. Instead of stressing with the lettuce.

Nah, I cannot see a suburbanite dancing with chopsticks. They're mostly dried-up inside anyway, no gusto for life, and certainly none for food.

But auntie over there, however...........

If she were not nearly so antique, I would've asked her out on a date.

If only to observe while she tackled another bowl of noodles.

In any case, I ordered a second cup of coffee.

Anybody who can look at food with an expression that says she's truly glad to see it, hello old friend how splendid to find you again, has a face worth watching.

It's something very Cantonese.

Other typical facial expressions that appeal are bemusement, the look of happy flabbergastion when unexpectedly discovering something nice, gleeful alertness at witnessing another person making a scene -- Ooh boy! Free entertainment! -- and sometimes, hurt vulnerability, such as hid in the faces of Cherie Chung (鍾楚紅) and Leslie Cheung (張國榮) in many of their most memorable film moments.
I've seen that last on other faces. It's wrenching.
Always subconscious, never deliberate.
A wounded quality laid bare.
Très séduisante.

Spent a pleasant hour after lunch wandering around C'town with my pipe, people watching. Finished up at Naam Hoi Sam Yung Hang (南海参茸行), where I bought some loose leaf tea: 特級烏龍野山黄金菊 (top quality oolong and wild golden chrysanthemum). Didn't get the hairy crab king this time.

[南海参茸行: 南海集團参茸行有限公司 NAM HAI CORPORATION, 919 Grant Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94108. PH: 415-397-3678. Herbal preparations, patent remedies, and tea.]

Nam Hai has been around far, far longer than all those cutesy-poo tea boutiques where the tourists are given a superficial lesson in Chinese culture, along with sips of overpriced lower-grade muck, and the opportunity to acquire a rather poor quality tea-set: small purple clay pot and four teenie cups. Plus teas to match.
All oh so unique.

There did not used to be so many of those shops. Now there are over a dozen of them, all selling the same merchandise. Stuff that only dumb people would buy.
A selection of strangely flavoured fruity teas and truly mediocre leaves.
Smile, nod, bow, thank you very much please come again!

Real people drink real tea.
And put chili sauce on their food.
What's the point of living without zest?

I think it's time to baptise my newest small teapot.
Bought it a while back. I have a modest collection of such.
It is pointless owning teapots unless you are going to use them.

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