A STEAMING CUP OF MANDARIN DUCKS
She looks older than when she worked at Ping Yuen in C'town.
[Sun Kwong: 新光 1400 Jackson Street, San Francisco, CA 94109. Tel.: (415) 673-9478. 地址：加州舊金山昃臣街1400號，電話：(415) 673-9478。 Ping Yuen: 平園咖啡店. This bakery - coffee shop - restaurant was located just up the street (昃臣街) from the Great Star Theater (大明星戲院), before the New Orchid Pavilion (新蘭亭快餐店) on the corner of Becket Street (白話轉街). It closed long ago.]
I should eat there one of these days.
I wonder if she'll remember me.
It's been over twenty years.
I used to go to the Ping Yuen for pie and coffee two or three evenings each week. It was possible to spend hours reading the Chronicle, the Examiner, the Gam San Si Po, Tsing Tao Yat Po, and other journals, while getting high as a kite on the refills that would magically appear.
I think the ladies behind the counter were competing to see how wired they could make the customers.
[ San Francisco Chronicle: 舊金山紀事報。 San Francisco Examiner: 舊金山考察家報。 Gam San Si Po: 金山時報。 Tsing Tao Yat Po: 星島日報。 The most frequently read other journals were the International Daily (國際日報), The Far Eastern Economic Review (遠東經濟評論), and The Economist (經濟學人周刊).]
She left, and with her husband opened their own place around ninety one or ninety two. The food is good. I heard that then, and that's still the reputation they have today.
When I was at Fweebink I'd occasionally phone in an order for food to go. My Cantonese was far worse then than it is today, but I always got stuff
that I liked.
The pipe tobacco, because I know that you are infinitely curious about such matters, was Tordenskjold Virginia Slices. Several tins entered my stockpile in 2006 and 2007, so this was six or seven years old when I broke the seal a few days ago. It smells heavenly. Deep, dark, rich, fruity. A slightly sour undertone. Remarkably, it is a very light smoke.
It reminds me of tobacco mixtures I have not smelled in years, as well as in profound ways of our house in Valkenswaard. Both in Springtime, when the apple tree blossomed, and Autumn, when the fruits fermented in the tall wet grass. I wonder what I was smoking then, I cannot remember any names of similar products.
Maybe it was something in one of my father's pipes.
It is perfect for sunny recollections.
That was nearly two hours ago. Soon I shall head out again, to meet some old friends and co-conspirators at nine-thirty in a south-of-Market location. You do not need to know what we're up to, but I'm sure I can pack in another bowl. In the meantime, I'm getting my caffeine level up to normal again (meaning: wired to the tits) with a good stiff serving of Mandarin Ducks.
It's very Hong Kong.
Forty percent strong coffee, sixty percent strong dark tea, with a heavy dollop of sweetened condensed milk. Normally served in a pint glass, but in that case probably over ice.
The Taiwanese and Singaporeans like it with small tapioca balls.
Both refreshing and invigorating.
The name 'Mandarin Ducks' (鴛鴦 yin-yeung) refers to creatures that once paired never separate, and are consequently a symbol of fidelity in a married couple. In the olden days the new bride's trousseau included embroideries of the birds on every conceivable cloth.
Bed sheets, pillow cases, bridal chamber drapes......
I guess nowadays she simply gets to drink it.
鴛 (yin) is the drake, 鴦 (yeung) is the hen.
In places where they also do milk-tea, there will often be the faintest hint of lychees from the strong silk-stocking brew. Normally I make my milk-tea with both black tea and jasmine tea, so in this case there is a hint of a garden in verdant spring to the bitter beverage.
And good gracious! I'm ragingly alive.
Raising hell should be fun tonight.
The man who first condensed a cow should be sainted.
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