Tuesday, October 27, 2009

More food and drink

Yesterday was the Chung Yeung festival - a day when families visit the graves of their ancestors to pay their respects. This didn't affect us in any way except that it's a public holiday, so the university was closed and Kelly didn't have to teach. We spent the afternoon at the Flagstaff House Museum of Teaware in Hong Kong park. There are tons of teapots from different time periods, information on the process of brewing tea, and a video showing a potter making what is possibly the ugliest teapot in existence.

After the museum, we went to the teahouse next door to try some different types of tea. The teahouse:

I had "jasmine fairy" tea - a bundle of jasmine flowers and green tea that "blooms" when hot water is poured over it:

Kelly had a 20-something-year-old pu'er tea that tasted exactly like the pot liquor left after cooking collard greens. I loved it, but it was too weird for Kelly so I ended up drinking it all.

The tea-making process - first you pour hot water in the pot to warm it. You dump that, then pack the pot 3/4 full of tea leaves. Pour hot water over the leaves and immediately pour it out - this is "rinsing the tea." Next, pour hot water over the rinsed tea leaves and put the lid on the pot. While the tea steeps for 1-2 minutes, pour hot water over the outside of the pot to maintain the temperature. The brewed tea is then poured into another teapot so it doesn't sit too long with the leaves and become bitter. The pot of tea, pot of leaves, and a teacup are brought to you. When you want more tea, you take the top off the pot of leaves and it's refilled with hot water.

After tea and dim sum we needed more food and drink, so we headed to a dai pai dong in Central. Dai pai dongs are outdoor food stalls. Our favorite was closed for the holiday, but there are several places in the same alley, so we tried a new one - and got lucky. Apparently the place we tried is a favorite of some famous food critic. We had beef with pepper sauce, garoupa with some other sort of sauce, che che chicken (chicken and pig liver cooked in a clay pot with spring onions - the "che che" refers to the sound the lid of the pot makes when it bubbles), stir-fried morning glory (which is the same as water spinach), fried tofu with spiced salt, and congee (a rice porridge). All very good. Our restaurant:

The chef (note the hooks of intestines and fish heads):

And the rat that kept running by our feet:

I tossed him some tofu, but he didn't care for it. Many years ago when I was in Uganda, I saw a white person give a bag of apples to a woman begging for food and money. The beggar began pelting the white guy with apples and nailed him a couple of times in the head before he could get out of range, I suppose because when you're chronically hungry, apples aren't really the sort of food you're looking for. I'm pretty sure if the rat could've thrown the tofu at me, he would have. But tofu's softer than apples, so it probably would've been okay.

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