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.

Thursday, February 21, 2013


But one must have milk-tea! It's the immutable rule! She spoke with utter conviction, never having considered the alternatives. What else did one go to a 'tea restaurant' for, if not the tea? Hong Kong style milk-tea is made by boiling the beverage for about five minutes, pouring it through cloth into the glass, and adding evaporated milk for sweetness and light. The straining through the sackcloth filter gave the beverage a more velvety mouth-feel. This was very important!

Her companion had not considered these things, and didn't have much of an opinion about the subject. He was hungry, and he wanted to feed her. Watching her complete and dreamy concentration as she tucked in to something yummy was infinitely enchanting. She was too small and skinny, and he looked forward to buying her many more dinners. On her own she did not eat much, often being so distracted by homework that it would be late night by the time she twitched up with an appetite. Her three roommates would be asleep by then, and clanging around in the kitchen was out of the question. He had spoken to her on the phone at those times, as she quietly polished-off some crackers or seaweed chips.
So unhealthy! A woman needs to eat!

He had offered to come pick her up, take her somewhere were there was rich greasy food, put something in her stomach. But no, it wasn't proper for young ladies to be out at midnight. Why not? Well, dangerous, lah. And cold. And too many drunkards, it just looks very bad, and might give strange people ideas...... Well, silly, yes. But most frighteningly of all, that's when everyone turned to pumpkins!
In any case, she absolutely refused.
Midnight was the time to sleep. Otherwise you'd wake up grumpy and tired the next day, and be a zombie in class.

Pre-emptively he got into the habit of picking her up at around five o'clock -- just for a little while, sweetie -- and on some pretext or other leading her down to the old neighborhood. Then, pretending peckishness (actually a very real appetite), he'd finagle her into a coffee shop or cha-chanteng ("tea restaurant"), and persuade her to eat. The hot beverage, as far as he was concerned, was a necessary part of the experience. The caffeine would prevent her from getting sleepy afterwards, and he knew that she would go home and spend at least four more hours studying.
Lord, he would love to be with her at that time!
No, no naughty intentions. She just looked so adorable with her brow furrowed, her face limned by the light of the desk lamp. And with three roommates, anything wicked was out of the question. Keep the door open, and all the lights on. But it would distract her, and the girls she shared the apartment with were inquisitive and social. They would interrupt when he was there. What did he do? Where was he from? Was his family wealthy? Did he want to play mahjong? Oh please, now there's four of us, and she NEVER plays!

Women! So much trouble!
When all he really wanted to do was watch his lady read.

She studied the menu with quite as much seriousness as her textbooks. Roast duck noodles? Or mixed meat and noodles? No, wait, they also had braised yi min with duck meat, so much more textural! But if texture was the determinant, maybe ox-tongue with corn sauce, and spaghetti instead of rice....... Food was as fascinating a subject as clinical psychology.

He deliberately ordered something which could be shared. That way, he'd have an excuse to also have dessert afterwards. He had learned that if he got her her own pudding, she would not touch it. But she'd gladly have some of his, oh only a little, just one more bite, mmmmm, the rest is ALL yours.

She was still so very small and thin. She probably wouldn't develop any more height or bone mass, and it would be years at this rate before she had any plumpness.
He anticipated many more meals together, just "taking her out for tea".
In the meantime, she sipped happily, and dreamed of duck.
Mmmmmmmmm! Roast duck!
A good duck.


Hong Kong milk-tea: Heung-Gong naai cha (香港奶茶), usually simply called naai cha (奶茶). Tea-restaurant: a type of restaurant popular in Hong Kong (香港) that incorporates Western style foods and beverages into Chinese cuisine. Usually places where you can grab a quick bite and a stimulating beverage, or dawdle for a while. Called cha-chanteng (茶餐廳) in Cantonese. They're appelled thus because the first beverage is milk-tea. The menu is both varied and flabberghasting. Evaporated milk: milk which has had nearly two thirds of the water dehydrated out, yielding a product with a much longer shelf-life. Called 'daam naai (淡奶), and fairly common in HK.
Roommate: sat-yau (室友) or tong-ok (同屋). The first term indicates an apartment companion, the second someone who lives in the same residence or house. Seaweed chips: any one of many tasty Japanese snacky things, made with rice flour or tapioca flour, flavoured with seaweed. They're addictive. Zombie: the walking dead. Often suburbanite.
Keep the door open: an essential and trained behavioural pattern, to establish clearly that any suspicions should be out of the question. Mahjong: a Jewish game played with tiles that is very popular in Asia.

Roast duck noodles: siu-ngaap tong min (燒鴨湯麵), which consists of duck chunks in broth with thin wheat flour noodles. $6.95.
Mixed meat noodles: baat-jan tong min (八珍湯麵), organ meats and dried black mushrooms in soup with wheat noodles. $5.95.
Braised yi min with duck meat: ngaap-si gon-siu yi-min (鴨絲幹燒伊麵); sliced duck dry-braised with chewy yellow noodles, very delicious. Please note that 幹 stands in for 乾, which is a little off, due to another meaning of 幹 which you really do not need to know about. $7.50.
Ox-tongue with corn sauce: suk-mai ngau lei (粟米牛利), a very HK preparation, combining a cheap meat with a textural experience. The term 利 means profit, but stands in for 脷, which is the Cantonese word for tongue. $6.75.
With spaghetti instead of rice: spaghetti has become popular in Hong Kong, where the menu will usually use 意粉 (yi fan) instead of the dryly bookish 意大利麵 (yi taai lei min). The choice here is 燴飯或意粉 (wui fan waak yi-fan), with gravied rice or (或) Italian noodles. 燴 means braised with something, but in this case baked en casserole.

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All correspondence will be kept in confidence.

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  • At 8:01 AM, Anonymous e-k said…

    Thought you may find this interesting

  • At 9:33 AM, Blogger The back of the hill said…


    Thank you for giving me that link. That book is fascinating and addictive.
    I have put a short-cut on the desktop of this computer, for much further reference.


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