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.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

HEAVEN COSTS LESS THAN FIVE BUCKS

Some things in life are worth every penny. At one of the places in Chinatown that I frequent, heaven costs less than five bucks. But I will never take anyone else there, nor will I mention its name or address.
Not because I begrudge my readers such pleasure, but because they likely will not be nearly as delighted with the food as I am.
It's very un-fancy.


One bowl of preserved egg and lean pork congee: $1.75
One fried dough stick, cut up: $1.50
Coffee: $1.00

[Preserved egg and lean pork congee: 皮蛋瘦肉粥 pei daan sau yiuk juk. Preserved egg: 皮蛋 pei daan. Lean meat: 瘦肉 sau yiuk; if not otherwise specified, 肉 always means pork. Congee: 粥 juk. Fried dough stick: 油條 yau tiu; a light airy dough strip deep fried, perfect for dunking in the congee, or, when cut, dumping on top. Because of the huge air pockets it floats and must be pushed under. The measure or numeral coefficient (counting word) for strips, wires, sticks, staffs, rods, or yau tiu, is 根 gan. Coffee: 咖啡 gaa fei; a thin black sludge made from burnt beans, which can be made drinkable by adding milk and sugar.]


It's one of my favourite lunches at this point. The quality is more than decent, especially for the price, the yau tiu is heung heung cheui cheui (香香脆脆), and among the very best in Chinatown, and despite their horrible countryside accents, the good folks running the place actually understand my even worse accented Cantonese.
They are from Toishan, I am not.

The father of the cute little tyke who returns there from school speaks excellent Mandarin, though. Found that out the other day.


嘩,佢識講國語好過我吖!

[Wow! He speaks 'national language' better than me!]


What, I hear you asking, is so remarkable about that? Well, usually Cantonese people have rather frightful accents in Mandarin, and in addition to tone-errors they cannot pronounce certain crucial sounds. Plus they tend to translate word-for-word instead of re-formulating.
Whereas white folks who have learned Mandarin frequently have nearly school-perfect pronunciation -- for their extremely limited though excruciatingly correct vocabularies -- and it is normally and naturally assumed that if the kwailo speaks a little bit of Cantonese, why then surely he speaks much, much more Mandarin.

This kwailo doesn't.

My Mandarin stinks; it's barely even above the "me Tonto, you Jane" variety. But I can recognize lovely diction, as well as a furry Pekingese accent, when I hear it.

It's starting to irritate me that a fair number of Cantonese people in Chinatown speak better Mandarin than I do. Somehow I feel less adequately kwailo because of it.



Still, the rice porridge and the dough stick are exactly to my taste, the coffee is tolerable, and I will continue to go there. Despite there being a Mandarin-speaker on the premises. That's something they cannot help, it would be grossly unfair to hold it against them.


Heaven costs four bucks twenty five.



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