Saturday, 25 January 2020

Cake fit only for kitchen god

Look at this sticky mess... I was trying to replicate the panfried nian gao (年 糕 or New Year cake) of childhood -- slices of nian gao dipped in beaten egg and fried.  But the nian gao sold these days are only meant for the kitchen god -- so awfully sticky and sweeeeeeeeeet.

It will definitely seal his mouth when he reports to the jade emperor of any misdoings of this household. His ascent from your stove to heaven is supposed to take place a week before the Chinese New Year -- according to Chinese beliefs of olden days. But it is definitely not for human consumption, not when health gurus are advocating zero sugar consumption. Whatever, it is way too sticky and sweet for my liking.

When we were kids, mum would fry nian gao on the first day of the Chinese New Year for our breakfast.  It was the highlight of the day. All members of the family would be wrapped in utter bliss till lunch, when more bliss followed as the bak-cham gai (Cantonese for poached chicken) literally flew from the kitchen to the table -- with whoever carrying the dish running at top speed.

The nian gao of those days wasn't at all sticky, as you can cleanly slice them into neat pieces. And they were not overly sweet. So what's with the modern day nian gao which was impossible to cut -- and eat? All I can say, in Cantonese, is: "Chay, deow jaw ker!" Which means "shucks, throw it away!"

Thursday, 19 December 2019

The underground singer

She has been busking at the underground link from Isetan to Tang's -- for the longest time. But she doesn't seem to have aged a bit. Guess that's what passion does to one's face.

She does a great rendition of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. That never fails to get me digging for my wallet. Not sympathy, but an appreciation for her talent. Wonder how Bird on a Wire would sound like -- through her voice. I have heard her doing Judy Collins' Both Sides Now too. Good.

Actually, there's another guy at the other corner of the undergound. He accompanies himself on the accordion. He's been there for the longest time too. He's not too bad.

But I prefer the lady on the other side :) No offence.

Come Christmas, I hope their suitcases get filled up -- with bucks of appreciation.

Sunday, 8 September 2019

The postman

The postman was a very important person in my life -- when there would be letters replyig to job applications, exam result slips, exciting letters from friends overseas, sometimes even a parcel (!) -- compared to the mostly bills of today. Well, actually he or she is still an important person today but I can't place a face to any of them as I hardly bump into them.

In my childhood days, the postman would be dressed in khaki-coloured uniform, riding a red bicycle. He would crashed onto our gate (maybe his brake wasn't working too well, and there was a little slope from the road to the gate) and slot the letters into our letterbox. He would then ring his bell to alert us to collect the mail (as though the "crash" wasn't loud enough) before he back his bike out -- and crash into the next gate. Delivery was twice a day, around 11am and 4pm, if I remember rightly.

If there were registered mail, he would let himself in through the side gate and gave us a surprise by suddenly appearing at the window, peering in. Spotting one of us, he would grin and hand us the registered mail and a receipt to be signed. On hot days, mum would ask me to offer him a cold drink. He would thank us profusely, mopping his brows.

At times when there were no letters for us or for our neighbours, you could see him soaring down the road, probably enjoying the breeze in his face. I had never seen a woman postman though, in my childhood.

Nowadays, there are quite a few woman postmen. In fact, those whom I have seen at my block, inserting etters into boxes with much alacrity, were all women. And of course, they don't ride bicycles anymore.

Here's a song we learnt in primary school, in celebration of our hardworking postmen:

I like to be a postman
I wake up with the sun
And on my back
I'd carry my sack
And onwards
I would go

Friday, 6 September 2019

The cat who loves fresh laundry

I must rub my hair on all these nice, clean laundry....

The moment I dump the content of my laundry basket onto the bed after a trip from the washing machine, guess who will be lolling on them. Never fails to happen. Only clean laundry, mind you, not dirty ones before washing.