Wednesday, September 07, 2022


Food. It motivates. A club sandwich and fries followed two hours later with an old wife biscuit. Given what went into the club sandwich, that there were fries with it, there is lard in Chinese pastry dough, AND all of this was washed down with cups of milk tea (mmmm, sweetened condensed milk), it would have propably horrified my cardiologist. He was probably spinning in his office chair. It is a good thing that although he is Chinese American, he does not know what goes on in Chinatown. A very good thing.

Club sandwich: 公司三文治 ('gong si saam man ji'). Fries: 炸薯條: ('jaa syu tiu'). Old Wife Biscuit: 老婆餠 ('lo po bing'). Hong Kong Milk Tea: 港式奶茶 ('gong-sik naai-cha'). Condensed Milk: 煉奶 ('lin naai'). Office Chair: 辦公椅 ('baan gong yi'), 轉椅 ('juen yi').

[Note: while in this context 'gong si' (公司) means "club" or "association", an older meaning, usually it means "company". Fries are usually just called 'syu tiu', the "frying" (炸) is implied. Biscuit is as much a misnomer as cookie would be, it's a flaky pastry crust around a sweet filling. Condensed milk is usually a sweetened product, often not specified as such on the label in Asia. Office chair (辦公椅) almost looks like a task description in the classics; "manage public seat".]


In a previous post I mentioned that pork grease is the soul of Shanghainese parched veggie rice (豬油是上海菜泡飯的靈魂 'jyu yau si seung hoi choi pou faan dik ling wan'). Which was incorrect and too specific; pork grease (豬油 'jyu yau') is almost certainly the soul of all Chinese food (豬油是中國菜的靈魂 'jyu yau si jung gwok choi dik ling wan'), period.
Not just vegetable rice soup(菜泡飯 'pou choi faan').

Jyu yau si han san gei di! Pork grease is amazing!

Questions: why is that infant staring at me in fascination? Is it because I'm white, or is it the fries? Why is that local born Chinese fellow at the table across the aisle talking to himself and repeating variations on the same five or six phrases in English? Mental? Why did that little girl wave at me in a friendly fashion? Do I look familiar? Why do most Americans put ketchup on their fries when everyone knows it should be hot sauce or peanut sauce?

Why is that old man obsessively sucking the red bean fragments out of the bottom of the glass that his iced drinkie came in? Sense of personal acievement? Sheer deliciousness?
Pleasure in irritating the spit out of his haunted and now berserk looking wife?

Another question: Is there an actual character that means 'pyek' in the dialect of Toishan? The most likely candidates are: 迫 ('pek'; persecute, oppress, force), 擗 ('pik'; beat, break off, cast away), 劈 ('pik'; chop, hack, strike), 擊 ('gik'; attack, assault), 踢 ('tek'; kick, kick away). Pyek in Hoisan seems to imply all of those.

I am obsessed with the term 靈魂 。 The first word shows whirling and a shaman with flaring robes underneath a rain cloud and precipitation, the second has a phonetic on the left side with a daemon on the right. Spirit, soul, spiritual part of something.
Smoked afterwards, while painfully stumbling through the antique district with my groceries. In hot weather my feet from the mid-thigh down feel like they came out of a war I don't remember. Throbbing, painful. Softened with a mallet.

You know, I'm not that keen on red bean ice drinkies. It's a mental thing. One of these days I'm going to have to try it. That old man spent over half an hour making those bottom of the bucket sucking sounds with his straw.

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