Tuesday, April 30, 2024


Late afternoon I had claypot rice (煲仔飯 'pou jai faan') for lunch. And, per two ladies at the opposite side of the room, you don't often see Caucasians eating claypot rice. Whereupon the proprietess clarified that the Caucasian in question had been sporadically coming there over the years, and had in fact ordered off the white board, because the actual dish in question wasn't on the English menu. Also, he speaks Cantonese.

[There will often be things on the Chinese language menu that aren't shown in English, because it is, very realistically and accurately, assumed that Caucasians have no interest in them, will ask a lot of difficult questions, and demur.]

Shortly afterwards I was explaining that no, I wasn't particularly smart. There had been plenty of time, and, erm, well, I am no longer a youngster.
Also, I collect dictionaries.

I should also have mentioned that the internet (網路 'mong lok') frequently is a good source of info on languages, provided you cross-check and effectively reverse-search (對證 'deui jing'; 查對 'chaa deui'; 查看 'chaa hon'; 覆核 'fuk hat') .

[For example, "welcome" is 歡迎 ('fun ying'). "You are welcome" is 毋客氣 ('mou haak hei') or 唔使客氣 ('m sai haak hei'). Though you'll note that the second person pronoun is entirely absent, and there is no actual verb there. A quick glib web search might have you saying something berserkly off-kilter when you were just trying to be polite.]

But I assume that they've already discovered that about the internet.

Claypot rice is white rice cooked in a lidded earthenware casserole with robust foods placed on top so that the rice is perfumed by what's above it, and made a little crickly-crackly by the heat underneat, which is then amplified for drizzling a little soy sauce in along the sides when it comes off the fire. Frequent inclusions are Chinese sausage, marinated chicken or duck, and salt fish. It is very Canto, very Hong Kong.

Once Caucasians understand the operative paradigms they often like it well enough. But it is reflective of and specific to particular social and cultural environments, and if you don't swim in those waters it rarely speaks so much to you.

It's also very San Francisco.

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