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Food Histories of the Non-Toysan People


Tepee
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The capital of the province is Xiamen (aka Amoy). Fuzhou is in the northeastern part of the province. Both of those cities are ports.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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After some sleuthing, I found that Foochow is the port city of the province of Fukien. To me, it's quite mind-boggling how, although related as such, the dialect of Foochow is so different from Fukien. Apparently, it's one of the most difficult dialects to learn.  :wacko:

Yoohoooooo....Mr Foochow/Laksa....where are you?

Thanks for the sleuthing, Tepee! I am also quite puzzled that the Foochow dialect is so different from Fujian. I know that there is a difference as I have a friend whose dialect is Foochow (but she only knows like three or four words!) and from whom I had the privilege of tasting chicken stewed with red wine lees.

By the way, the word in Mandarin for province is "shen" (third tone).

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After some sleuthing, I found that Foochow is the port city of the province of Fukien. To me, it's quite mind-boggling how, although related as such, the dialect of Foochow is so different from Fukien. Apparently, it's one of the most difficult dialects to learn.  :wacko:

Yoohoooooo....Mr Foochow/Laksa....where are you?

Thanks for the sleuthing, Tepee! I am also quite puzzled that the Foochow dialect is so different from Fujian. I know that there is a difference as I have a friend whose dialect is Foochow (but she only knows like three or four words!) and from whom I had the privilege of tasting chicken stewed with red wine lees.

The Foochow dialect is very easy to learn -- it only comprises three or four words! :biggrin: Teepee, sorry, I can't teach you the swear words because I don't know any.

Typing off the cuff, I had always believed that Fuzhou was the capital of Fujian province. That's what my mum (whose family was from Fuzhou), always told me. She doesn't often miss the opportunity to point out her family were city-folk, while my dad's were from the villages.

The Foochows in Sibu are great moonshiners -- they love to make red rice wine. Apparently the wine is much sought after by mothers in confinement. The red wine lees are a wonderfully flavored by-product, and feature in some quintessential foochow dishes like the chicken dish already mentioned.

I believe Foochows invented Fo Tiao Chiang or Buddha jumps over the wall (the dish is so tasty that even the ascetic Buddha reputedly jumped over a six-foot brick wall to eat it).

Food I ate when growing up was influenced by such a variety of styles that I find it difficult now to identify what dishes are typically foochow. Although one that springs to mind, har har, are foochow chung mian, or spring rolls. They are made with bean sprouts, firm tofu, chives, lard and ginger.

Another favorite that my mum always makes for Chinese New Year, a secret family recipe of sorts, is rice smoked duck (mi siu ark). A whole duck is put on a bed of raw rice in a wok over a medium flame. The rice that will eventually burn lends the duck a nice smokey flavor. After an hour or so, chop the duck into pieces and stir-fry.

Makan King, I will now try oh nee with pumpkin, but only because your royal highness has decreed that I must.

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  • 6 months later...

I am coming out!

No, I don't mean it that way. After all, I have a wife and a happy marriage! :raz:

I know, I know... I have a rather difficult-to-remember online moniker "hzrt8w". A few fellow eGulleters asked me if it stands for anything. It would be a great word puzzle, wouldn't it? Horse + Zebra Resemble Trojan Ate (8) Weeds.

Truth be told now: "hzrt8w" has absolutely no particular meanings. It happened to be a computer login name I was assigned at a company I used to work for long time ago. It was company policy that required us to remember this meaningless, computer-randomly-generated sequences (gotta have a number in addition to letters, right?) by heart. After using it for a few years, even though I had long departed that company I could not cleanse it out of my brain. Many millions of my neurons had already been imprinted with these 6 alphanumeric characters. Since it is rather unique, I just use it to sign up for accounts every where I go on the Internet. So far I have not seen been rejected!

So I went through the same routine when I registered on eGullet. Little did I know at the time, that this login name would also be used as my screen name. I would have chosen another one that's easier to remember otherwise, like "ChowMein" or something.

To make it easier for fellow eGulleters to address me, I am providing my name in my signature block. I still, however, would like to maintain at least partial anonymity. So let me just my initials and my street salutation "Ah Leung".

For those who are not familiar with the Cantonese language... the term "Ah" is not exactly a name. It is sort of a meaningless adjective serving the purpose of a place holder. When we say a person's name, it is as if a requirement that the name must have at least 2 characters. So how do we say a 2-character name if we only know that person's family name? We put a meaningless adjective "Ah" in front of it! Therefore, it is common to address a Mr. Wong as “Ah Wong” and a Mr. Lee as “Ah Lee” and so on. This is typically done to male names, although the same custom can also be applied to female names (e.g. Miss Wong as “Ah Wong”.) In Mandarin, the practice is pretty much the same – though they use the word xiao3 [Mandarin, meaning small or young] instead of “Ah”. “Xiao Liang” – my name in Mandarin.

Actually there is another reason: I would like to use my family name as a way to pay tribute to my late father, now, in the 6th anniversary of his passing. He taught me how to cook when I was ten and got me interested in this culinary art. First it was just for survival when I went through high school, then it was for necessity when I went through college in the USA, and later it was for enjoyment through the rest of my life.

My given names' initials (Chinese) are W.K.. Feel free to address me as WK or simply – preferable - "Ah Leung". :smile: Or, if you like, of course... continue on with "hzrt8w", "hzrt", or "hz".

To stay with the food subject... I have to say... my all time favorite Chinese food is: Gon Chow Ngau Ho [Cantonese] - Stir-fried rice noodles with beef and soy sauce, dry style. (Gosh... the English translation takes so many more words!)

BTW: I am getting close to my 1000 post! What’s my reward this time? Laksa? Another bowl of virtual laksa?

Edited by hzrt8w (log)
W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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I would like to bring to this topic something that may have been overlooked regarding the evolution of Chinese Cuisine during the past 50 or so years.

After the 2nd World War Hong Kong was a relatively small city without a significant population. It wasn't until the immigration began from the Chinese mainland that the effects of the population growing at one of the fastest rates anywhere began to take effect.

There were immigrant populations arriving daily from almost everywhere in China, including the villages immediately bordering Hong Kong.

In less then 10 years the growth of population went from hundreds of thousands to over four million. It was amazing how well the British Government dealt with this situation.

When I began doing business in Hong Kong the population was about one million after moving there until I relocated it had grown to well over four million.

As happens in new areas many immigrants began opening Restaurants/Hawker Stands or residential eating clubs. Because there was no place for ghetto's to evolve the population of immigrants lived all over the colony.

What was very unusual to those new comer's was the available ingredients since they came from China where everything was generally in short supply. In many areas Rice, Oil and almost everything was rationed.

Since these new eating places needed to attract all ethnic Chinese customers due to the mixed populations they learned to do what every business man acquires. They managed to adapt the cuisine to become acceptable to their customers tastes.

As more people became affluent they being Chinese enjoyed trying new dishes and eventually there were lots of Shanghai, Hakka. Chiu Chow, Peking, Vegan and other regional Restaurants, but the Cantonese were still the most popular. The only other type of Restaurants that meet most customers criteria were those opened by immigrant seamen from Singapore and Malaysia that featured combinations of Chinese, Hainan, Malay and European Style Dishes.

It wasn't long until there were regional Chinese Restaurants opening that were more authentic. This growth was timed by the Fast Food, Chain Restaurants and representative Restaurants from all over the World.

It's still growing with no end in sight. There are authentic Asian Restaurants in most large cities in North America especially Vancouver, Toronto, Winnipeg and Montreal in Canada. Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Chicago and your City next.

I hope my attempt to explain this evolution isn't to ambitious but I felt it should be added to this thread.

Everyones comments and thoughts are welcomed.

Irwin :wub:

I don't say that I do. But don't let it get around that I don't.

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After the 2nd World War Hong Kong was a relatively small city without a significant population. It wasn't until the immigration began from the Chinese mainland that the effects of the population growing at one of the fastest rates anywhere began to take effect.

I do remember my father told me that there used to be no borders between Hong Kong and the neighborhood city Shenzhen. People who wished to come to Hong Kong (like he did) just took a train there, or walked over. The fences along the Shenzhen River were not set up until there was a hugh immigrant wave at one point (can't recall what the incident was or what year).

The figure "four millions" was probably around the early 70's?

[...]The only other type of Restaurants that meet most customers criteria were those opened by immigrant seamen from Singapore and Malaysia that featured combinations of Chinese, Hainan, Malay and European Style Dishes.

It's very interesting isn't it? The early Chinese immigrants to SE Asia brought their Chinese cooking techniques. They created their own fusion food. And when such dishes are introduced in Hong Kong, they have to adjust back to the local (Chinese) taste...

It's still growing with no end in sight. There are authentic Asian Restaurants in most large cities in North America especially Vancouver, Toronto, Winnipeg and Montreal in Canada. Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Chicago and your City next.

And add to that list are your Seattle, Portland, San Jose (South Bay) and Sacramento too! :smile:

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi All

My parents are both from ToiShan or "Hoi San" if you're really from there! My dad immigrated from the White Water area (Bok Suey) in 1923 and my mom came from Hoi Serng in 1940.

I am actually going to visit the ancestral homes this month. Going for a wedding to meet all these relatives I've never known before. Does anyone know of any good restaurants/food stalls in Hoi San and in Hong Kong which I should not miss? Will also be in Guangzhuo for a bit so any food tips will be much appreciated.

This might be a nutty question but with all the avian flu business going on, would it be rude not to eat duck/chicken at the wedding banquets?

Thanks.

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Hi.

Since you're living in Beijing I wonder if you could help me. I will be in Beijing for a few days with my sisters (4 women!) before going south to Toi Shan for a wedding. We are looking to eat the best Peking duck while in Beijing. Any suggestions? I've been to Liqun Duck restaurant on another trip and it was very good but was wondering if there is a better place you can recommend?

Thanks!

Just to add to the list of non-toysan people on egullet...

I am a (sort of) third generation Singapore-born Chinese.  My parents were both born in Singapore, and three of my grandparents were also born in Singapore.  My paternal grandfather was born in Swatow in China.  I believe that there is some Peranakan blood in the family as well, since my dad's family has some awesome Peranakan dishes in their repetoire and my great-grandmother wore the kebaya on a daily basis.

I am teochew (chaozhou) on my dad's side and cantonese on my mom's side.  I speak some teochew and almost no cantonese.

I have now come a full circle in that I am now working in Beijing.  A great disappointment, food-wise (just to keep it on track!) is the lack of good teochew cusine in this capital city.  I miss greatly all my favorite teochew dishes from Singapore - hay cho (rolls made of crabmeat, prawns, minced pork and minced water chestnuts that are wrapped in pig's caul, steamed and then deep fried), steamed promfret, braised goose and tofu, sio be (teochew version of siumai, but less porky and eaten with a vingerary sauce), cold steamed crab, and the ultimate dessert - oh nee (mashed taro with mashed pumpkin and lotus seeds; this is extremely rich and utterly delicious.  Also utterly bad for the arteries - it has to be made with lard for the ultra-smooth texture).

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I am a mutt!!!

Mother side: Japanese, Tianjin, Yunnan and Toishan/Hakka.

Dad: side: Shanghai and Cantonese (Non-Toishanese).

I have lived in Taiwan, HK, Hawaii and Canada when I was a very lad. Pretty much grew up in New Yawk eating lotsa good pizzas and bagels.

Edited by AzianBrewer (log)

Leave the gun, take the canoli

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A little late to this thread. I may have posted my story elsewhere, but I’ll add it here.

My dad was from Toisan, my mom is from Hong Kong. Dad, who was a “paper son”, immigrated to New York in 1927. He married his first wife sometime after that (history is a little blurry here), then she passed away. He went back to China in 1954, where he married my mom, who was considerably younger than he (actually yesterday was their anniversary), and brought her back to New York. They only went back once when they were married, and that was to HK. Being the youngest of four, my command of the language, which is a hybrid of Toisanese and Cantonese, is pretty poor. But my love for food is the strongest. Growing up, we ate a lot of the food of Ah Leung’s pictorials—jook, yook beng, etc.

Dad is credited for teaching Mom how to cook, although I suspect she was able to her own.

Karen C.

"Oh, suddenly life’s fun, suddenly there’s a reason to get up in the morning – it’s called bacon!" - Sookie St. James

Travelogue: Ten days in Tuscany

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Hi.

Since you're living in Beijing I wonder if you could help me. I will be in Beijing for a few days with my sisters (4 women!) before going south to Toi Shan for a wedding. We are looking to eat the best Peking duck while in Beijing. Any suggestions? I've been to Liqun Duck restaurant on another trip and it was very good but was wondering if there is a better place you can recommend?

Thanks!

Judy, welcome to the eGullet Society!

I would suggest that you look through these search results of a site search of topics in the China forum with "Beijing" in the title. If you would like more recommendations, please feel free to ask in a relevant thread.

For what it's worth, I had wonderful Beijing ka ya at the Li Family Restaurant, but that's really high-end cuisine. Here are pictures from the second-best place, which was way cheaper....But back to food histories of non-Toysan people. (And, in case you didn't realize it, there is a thread on the Food Histories of the Toysan People and also one that starts with Ben Hong's wonderful Childhood memories of a Toysan Village. I thought that particularly since you're Toysanese, you'd want to know.:smile:)

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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I am a mutt!!!

Mother side:  Japanese, Tianjin, Yunnan and Toishan/Hakka.

Dad: side: Shanghai and Cantonese (Non-Toishanese).

I have lived in Taiwan, HK, Hawaii and Canada when I was a very lad.  Pretty much grew up in New Yawk eating lotsa good pizzas and bagels.

Oh good another mutt! :biggrin:

Maternal grandmother: Manchurian from Shenyang

Maternal grandfather: Shandong Han (but lived in Russia when young)

Paternal grandmother: English from the Midlands (the family had been in one area since at least the 1600s!)

Paternal grandfather: Low Scots-origin (west coast) Canadian settler

On the lateral 'family shoots', there's Dutch, Indonesian, Japanese and Spanish....

Having been born in KL Malaysia, I lived in HK, Vancouver, Montreal, London, Beijing, and (for a wee bit...) Barbados! :wacko:

I get a bit confused when people ask me where I'm from..... but the best thing is that I've had the chance to eat myself stupid on foods from around the globe :biggrin:

Hi.

Since you're living in Beijing I wonder if you could help me. I will be in Beijing for a few days with my sisters (4 women!) before going south to Toi Shan for a wedding. We are looking to eat the best Peking duck while in Beijing. Any suggestions? I've been to Liqun Duck restaurant on another trip and it was very good but was wondering if there is a better place you can recommend?

To add to Pan's excellent advice, I know of a good place to the south east of the city centre, but I *cannot* for the life of me remember its name - I will try and dig it up, if I can. You might try looking at the website of Beijing City Weekend magazine (it's something like www.cityweekend.com.cn) - they have restaurant awards every year for the 'Best of..'

Have a good trip!!!

<a href='http://www.longfengwines.com' target='_blank'>Wine Tasting in the Big Beige of Beijing</a>

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Thanks Pan. I realized after I posted that I was in the wrong thread.

And thanks for the tips. I went to the threads as you suggested and found some good info. I am excited about all the great food in China.

Hi.

Since you're living in Beijing I wonder if you could help me. I will be in Beijing for a few days with my sisters (4 women!) before going south to Toi Shan for a wedding. We are looking to eat the best Peking duck while in Beijing. Any suggestions? I've been to Liqun Duck restaurant on another trip and it was very good but was wondering if there is a better place you can recommend?

Thanks!

Judy, welcome to the eGullet Society!

I would suggest that you look through these search results of a site search of topics in the China forum with "Beijing" in the title. If you would like more recommendations, please feel free to ask in a relevant thread.

For what it's worth, I had wonderful Beijing ka ya at the Li Family Restaurant, but that's really high-end cuisine. Here are pictures from the second-best place, which was way cheaper....But back to food histories of non-Toysan people. (And, in case you didn't realize it, there is a thread on the Food Histories of the Toysan People and also one that starts with Ben Hong's wonderful Childhood memories of a Toysan Village. I thought that particularly since you're Toysanese, you'd want to know.:smile:)

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      1. Chinese people eat everything with chopsticks.
       

       
      No, they don't! Most things, yes, but spoons are also commonly used in informal situations. I recently had lunch in a university canteen. It has various stations selling different items. I found myself by the fried rice stall and ordered some Yangzhou fried rice. Nearly all the students and faculty sitting near me were having the same.

      I was using my chopsticks to shovel the food in, when I noticed that I was the only one doing so. Everyone else was using spoons. On investigating, I was told that the lunch break is so short at only two-and-a-half hours that everyone wants to eat quickly and rush off for their compulsory siesta.
       
      I've also seen claims that people eat soup with chopsticks. Nonsense. While people use chopsticks to pick out choice morsels from the broth, they will drink the soup by lifting their bowl to their mouths like cups. They ain't dumb!

      Anyway, with that very mild beginning, I'll head off and think which on my long list will be next.

      Thanks to @KennethT for advice re American-Chinese food.
       
       
    • By liuzhou
      Your wish is my command! Sometimes! A lot of what I say here, I will have already said in scattered topics across the forums, but I guess it's useful to bring it all into one place.
       
      First, I want to say that China uses literally thousands of herbs. But not in their food. Most herbs are used medicinally in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), often in their dried form. Some of the more common are sold in supermarkets, but more often in pharmacies or small specialist stores. I also often see people on the streets with baskets of unidentified greenery for sale - but not for dinner. The same applies to spices, although more spices are used in a culinary setting than are herbs.
       
      I’ll start with Sichuan peppercorns as these are what prompted @Tropicalsenior to suggest the topic.
       
      1. Sichuan Peppercorns
       
      Sichuan peppercorns are neither pepper nor, thank the heavens, c@rn! Nor are they necessarily from Sichuan. They are actually the seed husks of one of a number of small trees in the genus Zanthoxylum and are related to the citrus family.  The ‘Sichuan’ name in English comes from their copious use in Sichuan cuisine, but not necessarily where they are grown. Known in Chinese as 花椒 (huājiāo), literally ‘flower pepper’’, they are also known as ‘prickly ash’ and, less often, as ‘rattan pepper’.
      The most common variety used in China is 红花椒 (hóng huā jiāo) or red Sichuan peppercorn, but often these are from provinces other than Sichuan, especially Gansu, Sichuan’s northern neighbour. They are sold all over China and, ground, are a key ingredient in “five-spice powder” mixes. They are essential in many Sichuan dishes where they contribute their numbing effect to Sichuan’s 麻辣 (má là), so-called ‘hot and numbing’ flavour. Actually the Chinese is ‘numbing and hot’. I’ve no idea why the order is reversed in translation, but it happens a lot – ‘hot and sour’ is actually ‘sour and hot’ in Chinese!
       
      The peppercorns are essential in dishes such as 麻婆豆腐 (má pó dòu fǔ) mapo tofu, 宫保鸡丁 (gōng bǎo jī dīng) Kung-po chicken, etc. They are also used in other Chinese regional cuisines, such as Hunan and Guizhou cuisines.

      Red Sichuan peppercorns can come from a number of Zanthoxylum varieties including Zanthoxylum simulans, Zanthoxylum bungeanum, Zanthoxylum schinifolium, etc.
       

      Red Sichuan Peppercorns
       
      Another, less common, variety is 青花椒 (qīng huā jiāo) green Sichuan peppercorn, Zanthoxylum armatum. These are also known as 藤椒 (téng jiāo). This grows all over Asia, from Pakistan to Japan and down to the countries of SE Asia. This variety is significantly more floral in taste and, at its freshest, smells strongly of lime peel. These are often used with fish, rabbit, frog etc. Unlike red peppercorns (usually), the green variety are often used in their un-dried state, but not often outside Sichuan.
       

      Green Sichuan Peppercorns
       

      Fresh Green Sichuan Peppercorns

      I strongly recommend NOT buying Sichuan peppercorns in supermarkets outside China. They lose their scent, flavour and numbing quality very rapidly. There are much better examples available on sale online. I have heard good things about The Mala Market in the USA, for example.

      I buy mine in small 30 gram / 1oz bags from a high turnover vendor. And that might last me a week. It’s better for me to restock regularly than to use stale peppercorns.

      Both red and green peppercorns are used in the preparation of flavouring oils, often labelled in English as 'Prickly Ash Oil'. 花椒油 (huā jiāo yóu) or 藤椒油 (téng jiāo yóu).
       

       
      The tree's leaves are also used in some dishes in Sichuan, but I've never seen them out of the provinces where they grow.
       
      A note on my use of ‘Sichuan’ rather than ‘Szechuan’.
       
      If you ever find yourself in Sichuan, don’t refer to the place as ‘Szechuan’. No one will have any idea what you mean!

      ‘Szechuan’ is the almost prehistoric transliteration of 四川, using the long discredited Wade-Giles romanization system. Thomas Wade was a British diplomat who spoke fluent Mandarin and Cantonese. After retiring as a diplomat, he was elected to the post of professor of Chinese at Cambridge University, becoming the first to hold that post. He had, however, no training in theoretical linguistics. Herbert Giles was his replacement. He (also a diplomat rather than an academic) completed a romanization system begun by Wade. This became popular in the late 19th century, mainly, I suggest, because there was no other!

      Unfortunately, both seem to have been a little hard of hearing. I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked why the Chinese changed the name of their capital from Peking to Beijing. In fact, the name didn’t change at all. It had always been pronounced with /b/ rather than /p/ and /ʤ/ rather than /k/. The only thing which changed was the writing system.

      In 1958, China adopted Pinyin as the standard romanization, not to help dumb foreigners like me, but to help lower China’s historically high illiteracy rate. It worked very well indeed, Today, it is used in primary schools and in some shop or road signs etc., although street signs seldom, if ever, include the necessary tone markers without which it isn't very helpful.
       

      A local shopping mall. The correct pinyin (with tone markers) is 'dōng dū bǎi huò'.
       
      But pinyin's main use today is as the most popular input system for writing Chinese characters on computers and cell-phones. I use it in this way every day, as do most people. It is simpler and more accurate than older romanizations. I learned it in one afternoon.  I doubt anyone could have done that with Wade-Giles.
       
      Pinyin has been recognised for over 30 years as the official romanization by the International Standards Organization (ISO), the United Nations and, believe it or not, The United States of America, along with many others. Despite this recognition, old romanizations linger on, especially in America. Very few people in China know any other than pinyin. 四川 is  'sì chuān' in pinyin.
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