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.

Sunday, June 08, 2014


Friday evening after dinner, while wandering the neighborhood, two tunes alternated in my head. Remarkably they were both about food, though unrelated to anything that I am exceptionally fond of. Neither meat-filled glutinous rice packets steamed in long bamboo leaves (粽), nor sesame sprinkled flaky fried buns (燒餅), even if fresh out of the hot fat, are a particular must-have favourite.
Oh, yummy enough that they hit the spot, yes. But I shan't go out of my way to hunt them down.

A good rendition of bittermelon and black bean chicken or pork, on the other hand, is a different story. Delicious with rice, and the oily hot sauce that you will regret several hours later.
Seriously worth jumping for.
Oh indeed yes.

[Jung (粽): often called a 'Chinese Tamale', this is glutinous rice packed in a cone made of remoistened dried bamboo leaves folded over, with a sweet or savoury filling -- often fatty pork and peanuts or yellow beans -- closed up and steamed for several hours. Because of the bactericidal properties of bamboo, and the fact that the leaves have effectively sealed it, this keeps at room temperature longer than many other comestibles, and is often favoured for journeys or picnics. Shaobing (燒餅): a wheat flour layered dough bun, often pan-fried and topped with toasted sesame. Distinguish two main kinds: the sweet variety, most frequently with a red bean paste filling, and the savoury, which may or may not contain meat. It once was the quintessential cold-weather street food.]

[Source for both photos: Wikipedia. Of course.]

The image on the left is shaobing ready for sale, that on the right shows one jung divested of its wrapper, another waiting in anticipation of its own impending nudity.

Here's a bittersweet Hokkien ballad about selling glutinous rice packets by the side of the road to pay for school books.



The singer is mr. 郭金發 (Kwek Kim-Hoat), who made the song famous in the post-war years. It has also been done by Theresa Teng (鄧麗君), whose rendition I do not find as appealing.

Subsequent covers by other singers compete to render it the most heartrendingly depressing song ever. Full of funk, misery, and hopelessness. It is, consequently, a Taiwanese ever-green.

You're probably already familiar with my fondness for 1930's songbird Chou Hsuen (周璇), whose performances during the dark years of civil war and Japanese invasion brought brightness and cheer to a population desperately in need of precisely that. Her career could not have spanned a more appropriate time, her golden voice is the signature of her era.

Her she is in a sprightly ballad about buns.



Neither sio ba tsang nor shaobing are available anywhere near here. Sio ba tsang (Cantonese pronunciation: 'siu yiuk jung') is something slightly more northern, as the natives of LingNan do not do it the same way as the Min peoples, shaobing (Cantonese pronunciation: 'siu beng') is so far north as to be almost on the moon. Or in any case, beyond the mountains and the rivers. Further utterly far away.
Are they even Chinese there?

No, I have no idea why those tunes came back to me. As I said, I had already eaten well. Bittermelon and black bean chicken over rice.
It would not have been the pipe either. Although it was filled with an old-fashioned and evocative English-style recipe, such as I smoked in the eighties and nineties. Heavy on Latakia, light on flue-cured.
Smells work subconsciously on the memory.
Latakia perhaps more than most.
Fragrant recall.

Okay, maybe that WAS it.

I shall compound more of that tobacco mixture.
It's stench is magic to my mind.

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  • At 7:26 AM, Anonymous e-kvetcher said…

    That naked Jung looks like a hamentashen to me.

  • At 8:30 AM, Blogger The back of the hill said…

    You're right. It does. I had not noticed that.

    In this case the filling is also 'appropriate', being in the sweet category. That's a red bean paste filling. Mashed adzuki, sugar, and enough grease to make it smooee,


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