Zolima City Mag’s “Silk Smooth Tofu Pudding” and the Art of 荳腐花

Silky Smooth Tofu 1

On 2 April, Zolima City Mag posted another short video in its Forgotten Hong Kong Icons series. This one is about the 荳腐花 dauh6 fuh6 fāa1, a kind of dessert, made by the 公和 Kung Wo Beancurd Factory. Once again, the combination of spoken word, refined imagery and sensitive music result in an artistically-compelling micro-documentary.

You can watch the video here, with subtitles in English and Standard Written Chinese.

If you are interested in Cantonese, the main interest is in the vocabulary and a few Cantonese-specific verbs, such as 煲 bōu1 and 幫襯 bōng1 chan3. The expression 老中青 lóuh5 jūng1 chīng1 = “the elderly, the middle-aged and the young” was also new to me.

Be sure to use the Sheik Cantonese website to check any item in this text: you can find their on-line Cantonese dictionary here.

The owner of the concern, 蘇崇廉 Sōu1 Sùhng4 Lìhm4 is a bit soft-spoken, so there are a few gaps in the transcription, indicated by “/ ? /”. If you can help fill any of them in (or correct any errors you spot), please leave a comment: I greatly appreciate any contribution to the cause of Cantonese learning!

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

荳腐花係
The term 荳腐花 dauh6 fuh6 fāa1 refers to a “soybean dessert” (Sheik); in this video, the term “silk smooth tofu pudding” is used. The character 荳, written with the grass radical or 草字頭 chóu2 jih6 tàuh4, is a variant of the more commonly used 豆.

我覺得應該可以代表香港嘅一種地道小食呀

首先係黃荳啦
There is a change of tone in the pronunciation of 荳 dauh6 in the combination 黃荳 wòhng4 dáu6*2 = soybean; soyabean.

噉我哋會浸呀
浸 jam3 = to soak; to immerse; to saturate; to steep; to dip

浸佢 ah 六個鐘頭喇

跟住就會擺落個石磨中磨
In Cantonese, the verb 擺 báai2 is used with the meaning “to lay; to put; to place; to arrange”. After the verb, 落 lohk6 is added. 落 is similar to 到 dou3 in its expression of “arrival”, but suggests that the movement is vertically downwards rather than horizontal.
石磨 sehk6 mó6*2 = stone mill. When it is used again, 磨 is a verb meaning “to grind; to mill” and is pronounced mòh4.

磨完就會煲滾佢
煲 bōu1 is used in Cantonese with the meaning of “to cook; to stew; to boil”. Here, 滾 gwán2 = “boil; boiling, boiled” is added as a kind of result particle: “to heat something to boiling point”. 滾 also suggests the idea of “rolling”. In other words, a full, rolling boil.

煲滾, 噉我哋會加石膏
石膏 sehk6 gōu1 = gypsum

令佢凝固
凝固 yìhng4 gu3 = to congeal; to coagulate; (?) to set (firm)

出邊嗰啲呢

因爲佢哋製造方式同我哋 / 有啲 (?) / 唔同

唔係用石膏呀

係用 ah 第種機器去代替
In Cantonese, 第 daih6 can express the idea of “another; different”, hence the compound 第種 daih6 júng2 = (?) another kind. You will also find it in 第日 = another day, 第樣 = another kind and 第度 = somewhere else; some other place.

所以做出嚟呀,就係同我哋 / 係少少 (?) / 出入
出入 chēut1 yahp6 = discrepancy; inconsistency; divergence

佢都係滑
The adjective 滑 waht6 usually means “slippery”, hence all those notices you see about 小心地滑! Here, however, it seems to refer to the silky smooth texture of the tofu pudding.

但係佢 / 冇嗰種嘅 (?) / 口感
口感 háu2 gám2 = how food feels in the mouth; texture or taste of food (Sheik)

/ 冇嗰種嘅 (?) /荳香味
荳香味 dauh6 hēung1 meih6 = (?) the appealing/sweet taste of soybeans

最主要我本人對呢啲嘅食品行好有興趣
食品行 sihk6 bán2 hòhng4 = (?) food products industry

咁啱去到96年呢,就有個機會

噉我就接手做咗呢一間公和荳品
接手 jip3 sáu2 = to take over

一路做到而家

我哋呢度呢,就老中青都有㗎
老中青 lóuh5 jūng1 chīng1 = the elderly, the middle-aged and the young; people of all ages

甚至乎/ ? / 近十年八年亦都有好多游客嚟度幫襯
幫襯 bōng1 chan3 = patronage; (?) to patronize (a particular shop or business)

好多都話,好食過當地 / 嗰啲 (?) /

又佢哋有啲每次嚟香港旅游呢

都會專程嚟呢度
專程 = jyūn1 chìhng4 = special-purpose journey; (?) to make a special trip

Ah 食 / ? / 次或者兩次先至會搭飛機返去

Co-incidents (Acrobatical, Not Mathematical)

Abandoned Shrine Paraphernalia REDUCED_24 MAR 2020

Things uncharacteristically not in their right places
make space
for brand-new worlds to go surprisingly round in,
like the micro-bat
tucked in a black roller-blind
waiting for dusk,
or a cockroach flat-patched inside Winter’s bone-dry matchbox,
inhaling through spiracles
just a whiff of that cold phosphor smell. Incidents
of odd coincidence help to render existence inexplicably denser ⸺
Saturn
and a new moon setting in the same seamless sky across a wisp of pink cloud?
I can’t begin to begin to understand this language,
but the feeling is there,
more legible than any intelligible jumble of facts,
and transtranslating at least a part of the art of the sense,
lyrically. A jagged wolf spider
compact in its slit behind the oven door,
or the purple chocolate lily refining the tines of its petals there
from a crack in stone steps ⸺ these are the pictures
made to stop with my heart
right to the very end,
when most of what happened quite strictly by the book
wears that carapace touch
of unbubbled amber ⸺ or glass . . .

From A Sip of Tea by Ye Si, translated by Audrey Heijns (3)

Audrey Heijns_Tai Po Lam Gei Chaa Siu CROPPED_30 MAR 2020

83, Winter

When the weather is cold, a plate of lap-mei rice can make you particularly warm. After such a meal, you feel a warmth all over. If it’s even colder, you’ll see hotpot and claypot rice for sale in the street. The flickering flames resist the cold.

*   *   *

I don’t much like winter, it’s like I am more slow-witted, more sluggish in winter. Someone says: ‘you’re always sluggish, it’s got nothing to do with winter!’ When I think it over, that does make some sense.

*   *   *

No matter what, when the hot weather is gone, the cold weather comes along, and the street scene changes. Winter, whether you like it or not, always arrives on time, just like TV commercials, debt collectors, toothache, and bad luck.

Note: lap-mei rice is a traditional Cantonese dish of preserved meat with rice cooked in a clay pot.

 

83 冬天

天氣寒冷的時候吃臘味飯,特別感到暖。吃了彷彿整個人就暖和起來。再冷一點,你在街頭就可以看見火鍋和煲仔菜。晃動的火光,對抗寒冷。

我不大喜歡冬天,在冬天裡,人也好像呆一點,遲鈍一點。有人說:「你平時也是那麼遲鈍的了,關冬天什麼事?」想想又有道理。

不管怎樣,每年熱天去了冷天就來,街頭又有一番景象。冬天,不管你喜歡不喜歡,照樣準時來臨,像電視的廣告、像收賬的人、像牙痛、像噩運。

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Other poems from this series:

21, Cold after the rain
46, Taste

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

● Ye Si, pen name of Leung Ping Kwan (1949-2013), is a celebrated Hong Kong poet, essayist, fiction writer and photographer. He has published many volumes of poetry, essays and stories, including: Paper Cuts (1982), City at the End of Time (1992), Foodscape (1997), Travelling with a Bitter Melon (2002), Postcards from Prague (2000) and Postcolonial Affairs of Food and the Heart (2009). He was Chair Professor of Comparative Literature and Director of the Centre for Humanities Research at Lingnan University in Hong Kong.

Audrey Heijns, based in Hong Kong, is working at Shenzhen University. Her translations of Chinese literature have been published in literary magazines, including Het Trage Vuur, Twee Ronde, KortVerhaal, Terras, Renditions, Exchanges and Poetry International.

Photograph: Lam’s Cha-siu, Tai Po (Audrey Heijns)

Love-Evol-Ution (He Watches Her Waver)

Tuen Hou Temple_11 MAR 2020

She mutes the wave upon her palm.
Tentative, she hangs one arm out
into the willing air. He watches
with the way he stands, well-wishing her
to understand: will love,
will love now finally show him
a way ― muscular ― exerted in her wrist,
extending frankly tip by fingertip,
till it signals (wing to wing, at last)
joint flight, blood-hope, first trust?

 

Photograph: 香港屯門口角天后廟 Hau Kok Tin Hau Temple, Tuen Mun, Hong Kong

From A Sip of Tea by Ye Si, translated by Audrey Heijns (2)

Ye Si Cover Image 1_21 MAR 2020

46, Taste

The taste of coffee has gone bland. In the past one spoon of powder was enough for one cup of coffee. Now with one and a half spoon the coffee is still weak. Has the quality deteriorated? Or am I losing my sense of my taste?

*   *   *

The taste of coffee has gone bland. The taste of films is getting salty. The words in the newspaper are getting sour. People’s talk is getting spicy.

*   *   *

As time goes by it’s getting difficult to trust your own taste buds. Have you changed or has the flavour of things changed? In the restaurant, someone is madly putting salt on everything, someone else pours a thick layer of ketchup on his steak. Take a bite and you can’t tell whether you are eating vegetables or meat, if it’s carnivorous or vegetarian.

Note: In Cantonese 鹹 hàahm or “salty” can also mean “pornographic; lecherous”.

 

46 味道

 咖啡的味道淡了。以前一匙的咖啡粉便夠味道,現在一匙半還是淡淡的。是不是咖啡粉的質素差了?還是我的口味變了?

咖啡的味道淡了。電影的味道越來越鹹了。報刊的文字越來越酸。人的說話越來越辣。

日子久了,你越來越不相信你的味蕾。是你變了,還是事物的味道變了?在餐室裡,一個人拼命灑鹽,一個人在牛排上倒下厚厚的番茄醬。嚼一口,你分不出是菜還是肉、是葷是素。

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Other poems from this series:

21, Cold after the rain

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Ye Si, pen name of Leung Ping Kwan (1949-2013), is a celebrated Hong Kong poet, essayist, fiction writer and photographer. He has published many volumes of poetry, essays and stories, including: Paper Cuts (1982), City at the End of Time (1992), Foodscape (1997), Travelling with a Bitter Melon (2002), Postcards from Prague (2000) and Postcolonial Affairs of Food and the Heart (2009). He was Chair Professor of Comparative Literature and Director of the Centre for Humanities Research at Lingnan University in Hong Kong.

Audrey Heijns, based in Hong Kong, is working at Shenzhen University. Her translations of Chinese literature have been published in literary magazines, including Het Trage Vuur, Twee Ronde, KortVerhaal, Terras, Renditions, Exchanges and Poetry International.

Skirmish

 

Sunflower & Bees LANDSCAPE_21 MAR 2020

I am writing this down, drop by drop, just as it falls from the sky ⸺ a gentle rain, again perhaps the start of a Summer storm.

Faint thunder detonates the distance and growls down mountains, triggering an avalanche of decibels.

Small, unopened sunflowers stare sightless up into the overcast atmosphere, while the heavens’ only sol-bloom shies blind-ed behind dense acres of cloud.

A whole world between words upsets a particle or two here and there of some absolute boundary inscribed in the dust; plummeting water sculpts tear-drop-shaped craters in sand-drifts banked along the road.

Now there is no eagle to stand the sky on end, and no fox to set its dirty orange fire to the gloom.

Suddenly, I am jumped out of my skin: all the fault-lines in my nature are analyzed both with and against the grain by a forked strike of instantaneous X-ray lightning and, almost in the same split-second, thunder deafens (and defines) the length and breadth of my fragile auditory nerves.

Lost in the moment, one large white cockatoo feather twirls ⸺ gloriously ⸺ back to Earth.

 

Photograph: 澳洲唐人溪:向日葵 Sunflowers, Chinaman Creek, Australia (2020)

A Tea House that Makes Dim Sum with Heart

Zolima City Mag Dim Sum Image 1_13 MAR 2020

Zolima City Mag recently posted a new short video on YouTube.

Called “A Tea House that Makes Dim Sum with Heart”, the clip deals with a small dim sum restaurant called 叁去壹 (“Three Minus One”) in 西營盤 Sai Ying Pun. It’s a finely crafted piece, and is almost as satisfying as a serve of prawn haa gaau dumplings! The camera and editing by Kevin Cheung is superb, and the interviewer Zabrina Lo does a great job in bringing out the rather quietly spoken chef, 王燦枝 Wong Charn-chee. There’s also a very moody soundtrack that complements the urban imagery brilliantly ⸺ the musicians responsible also deserve recognition for their efforts!

There are subtitles in English and Standard Written Chinese, and there are some valuable language points in the Cantonese, including the use of the verb 頂 déng2; an instance of 拍檔 paak3 dong3; and a couple of uses of the colloquial numbers, 卅呀一年 and 卌呀一年.

You can view the video here.

The complete Cantonese transcript is as follows:

「叁去壹」本身就唔係我開嘅

● Both 叁 and 壹 are more formal characters representing the much more familiar 三 and 一 respectively.

就有一個朋友開嘅
就1978年嗰陣時
因爲佢本身就三個人嚟頂呢度做

● 頂 déng2 = to substitute; to replace; to take the place of

噉臨時有一個拍檔呢

● 臨時 làhm4 sìh4 = at the time when sth. happens (compare 到時 dou3 sìh4); (?) at the last minute
● 拍檔 paak3 dong3 = a partner (in a business venture)

佢就個老豆叫佢唔好幫人哋咁樣做生意啊咁
唔得啊咁
噉佢就臨時退出
噉嗰兩個咪改呢個名叫「叁去壹」喇

● The use of 咪 maih6 here is very colloquial and one that I haven’t seen explained in any textbook on Cantonese. Sheik Cantonese has “(often used with 囉) then; as a result; might just as well”. Here, it goes seem to mean more or less the same as 就 jauh6, “then”.

我 14 歲入行㗎啦,做點心

Zolima City Mag Dim Sum Image 3 CROPPED_15 MAR 2020

Continue reading “A Tea House that Makes Dim Sum with Heart”