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09 September 2010

Hong Kong - An Overdue Overview

You'd think working for an I.T. company, I wouldn't have to deal with the Internet being down...

I could spend years studying Chinese food and culinary customs. I could take a topic on Chinese anything and stretch it into months and months of research. Strange as it sounds, I'd love that. I'm a research hound. If I could get paid to research, I'd be in heaven. (anyone hiring a research assistant?)

I had originally thought to traverse length and breadth of China, discovering ancient cuisine and full filling my desire for new and exotic locations. I quickly realized that would take a life time of travel, even if I stayed virtual. I had to narrow it down (not easy) and pick one place where I could get a good idea of Chinese culture and cuisine. Lo and behold, I landed in Hong Kong.

picture found here

Hong Kong is separate from mainland China. I didn't know this until very recently. I'd heard people say, "I've never been to China, but I've been to Hong Kong" and never understood it until now. It was under British rule from the early 1800's until 1997 but still remains independent from the People's Republic under the "One country, two systems" principle. If you'd like an in depth look at this interesting predicament, you can find some really good information HERE and HERE.

picture found here

I was pleasantly surprised when I began digging for cuisine specific to Hong Kong. Many people go to Hong Kong just to eat! There are over 6,000 licensed restaurants offering not only Chinese cuisines but world cuisines as well. Of the major Chinese cuisines I discovered, it seems Cantonese is one of the best. Even during the Imperial era, people would travel to the southern Chinese province of Canton (Guangdong) to dine. Not much has changed, as this quote reveals: "Cantonese people, more than any other race except the French, believe that they live to eat rather than vice versa." It is still the most popular form of Chinese cuisine.
Nothing goes to waste in a Cantonese kitchen, hence the rather bizarre and sometimes baffling ingredients seen on websites devoted to Asian cuisines. This quote sums it up quite nicely: "The only things with four legs a man should not eat is a table". I'm pretty brave when it comes to food and I'd like to think I'd be able to try just about anything put in front of me. Still, there are a few things that can cause even the most steeliest of stomachs to question their courage (duck blood and sandworms anyone? Oh, word of caution: if you're NOT one of those with a stalwart stomach, or are of a sensitive nature, you might want to forgo those links. Consider yourself warned.)
For the remainder of the time we're in China, I'm going to focus on the diverse food culture of Hong Kong (sandworms and rats withstanding). Steaming and stir frying predominate and seafood, pork, fowl and vegetables take center stage with Cantonese and I'll be focusing mostly on this particular tradition. I can't make any promises, though. I have a tendency to step off the path and go off on tangents :) Again, you've been warned. Oh, and I have developed a little side project during this year of culinary wandering. More on that later (cue evil laughter).

picture found here

If you're interested in some really informative links on Hong Kong travel, cuisines or a general look at Chinese food culture, here are a couple of wonderful links to check out:
Jen

8 comments:

Brian Miller said...

excellent...i love chinese food..and i am willing to try about anything...except lima beans but i think we may be ok on that...

Elana Johnson said...

I've always wanted to go to a really, really big city. Maybe one day, I will! Great pics.

roxy said...

Loved these pictures. So beautiful. I cannot fathom actually living someplace as vast and exotic as Hong Kong. I do enjoy imagining it though!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Wow. I love the pictures, and the info you shared is fascinating - though I think I'll pass on the duck blood! :-)

Jon said...

Yes, I was brave and clicked on the links... I do have to say that their cuisine is a bit more interesting than I originally thought. Not sure how daring I will be in the food category when we actually go to Hong Kong. :)

deb said...

I am not much for the exotic , but I do love the veggies, the combination of textures .

research assistant indeed....

ali said...

None of those foods sound very appealing, lol! But the pictures are breathtaking! ;)

Mary Aalgaard said...

Great research and stories. I hope you find that job some day! People do hire researchers. You make me curious to go, but I've always had a bit of fear of the Asian cultures. Crowded and mysterious.