Tuesday, November 17, 2015


Please imagine that in the cave labyrinth underneath Telegraph Hill there is a bakery run by giant spiders. And that, because they are all vegetarians, the char siu sou (叉燒酥)) is filled with tofu.
An altogether horrible idea!

Yet some of my readers may not realize how repulsive that is. "Surely", they will say, "char siu flavoured soybean curd is a great good?"

Unless of course they are spiders.

Who think it's natural.

I will insist that vegetarians have no business taking over our beloved foods and mucking them up by subterfuge. Do we insist upon kelp or wheatgrass flavoured beefsteak? Has anyone ever produced bacon with the appearance of tempeh or miso?


At one point a little girl will wander into the spider bakery. She took a wrong turn after twilight (dusk starts shortly after five at this time of year), and, while answering a text message from a beloved classmate ("what caused the fall of the Roman Empire? There are too many possibilities!"), she stumbled into a long dark tunnel -- the entrance was on an alley way, next to the mahjong parlour -- at the very end of which was a bright cheerful light. As she drew closer, shadows in the glowing nimbus became apparent. Lumpish things, some with horns, and also undefinable balls of fur. Plus creatures with many long spindly legs. And there was happy chatter, and good-natured chortling, such as people enjoying a spot of tea and a pastry are wont to make.

Did she still have that ten dollar bill her mommy gave her for lunch? Oh goody, she did! She realized that she was totally starving, she had eaten nothing since breakfast!

She skips up to the counter, excited at the prospect of tasty things to nibble on, and a hot cup of milk tea! All the pastries look so lovely! Crisp and flaky, and there's crumbly roll with red bean paste, and linyong pastry, and egg-tarts, and char siu sou ......

As she's pointing at the char siu sou, the friendly spider behind the counter says "I'm so sorry, little girl, that isn't really char siu, but tofu (and red dye). And that isn't real egg tart (yellow no. 5)."

The child looks utterly crest fallen.
Very very disappointed.

Uncle Spidy gently suggests a strawberry tartlet, and some of the gooey almond bread. They'll be better than even real char siu would have been, and much much nicer than tofu!

And they are.

She stays till seven, when they close, doing her homework.

Afterwards the friendly arachnid walks her up the tunnel to the entrance, and tells her to carefully remember where it is, but be circumspect about telling anyone. The folks in the mahjong parlour in the alleyway don't even know, they're kind of abstracted by their game.

She still has eight dollars left.

He must not have charged her for the hot milk tea. Maybe he forgot? He really wanted her to enjoy the pastries, perhaps that distracted him.
She'll go back tomorrow afternoon and offer to pay.
And to have more strawberry tart.
It's a nice place.

I'll forgive the arachnids for not using butter, or clarified lard, in their baking.
They're repulsed by such things, and just can't help it.
But they really should post a warning.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.


Jacky said...


Hong Kong is Hong Kong! 叮噹,巫婆死咗!
而家我想知道三藩市點慶祝呢個挑戰呀,過去大家一定撐香港,但係自從內地人入侵,我都唔知道你個城市仲係撐香港or switch to紅衛兵,拜託話我一個post呀!

e-kvetcher said...

I was reading a blog today of a Russian woman who went to China to get an advanced degree.
Her post said that the Chinese word for "defending your thesis" 答辩 - Dábiàn, is the same sounds as 大便 - Dàbiàn, taking a crap. The only difference is the tone of the first syllable. She found this coincidence karmic.

The back of the hill said...

That is the unintended snarkiness with which Chinese is 'ripe'.

Buggety wuggety said...

This is a charming story about spiders. But what comes next. Can you 'spin' another one.

Search This Blog


What this society needs is churchpeople going on regular tours of low places to spread the word of god. Not because habitués of such places ...