One hundred fifteen
Saturday 2 February 2013, 11.43pm HKT
1.47am local time, 21°C (70°F), warm
TODAY is the 115th birthday of my printing company.
Whenever I can, I make a point of publicising this. I do this because:—
- it’s grandma’s brother’s business originally, founded in 1898
- grandma took over the business when grand uncle died without issue
- grandma had always wanted to leave it to me
- it’s a comeback to some other relatives with their MBAs, high-end corporate experience, etc, who took over the firm at various points in time in the past and made an unholy hash of things with their MBAs, high-end blah-blah, etc
Four good reasons to mark the firm’s birthday, dontcha think?
For security reasons, I can’t show pictures of my firm or my colleagues there, so sorry about that. Best I could do, I’ll try an outside shot of the building next time.
To mark this day, I’ll instead show you a simple meal in honour of grannie’s firm.
Marinated duck breast on peanuts, HK$19 (US$2.45 or £1.56)
Za’atar (Zahatar) pita bread, bag of 10s, HK$22 (US$2.84 or £1.80)
Skittles Riddles, 2 packets for HK$10 (US$1.29 or 82p)
China-made cheapo beer with German name, 12 per box, HK$27 (US$3.48 or £2.21)
Total cost HK$53.25 (US$6.87 or £4.37)
I ran out of wine, so had to make do with the ultra-cheapo Chinese beer with the pretend German name. But it did taste genuinely German, that much is true.
Solid, solid meat in every bite
This specimen was bought by Ratta from the Japanese chainstore she worked for (but from another branch). It was cooked to perfection, with just the right amount of herbs in the marinate. It didn’t look much but it weighed 350 grammes (12 oz). It was a good deal even if it were at its regular price of HK$21.
Normally in Chinese culture (particularly northern Chinese culture), the traditional festive food is soy sauce seasoned duck (醬鴨 Mandarin ‘jiang ya,’ Cantonese ‘cheung ngaap’ : ‘sauced canard’). Although duck is more in line with the Midautumn Festival, it isn’t off-colour to serve duck for company celebrations or events close to the Chinese Lunar New Year like now.
Duck and goose are safe choices for celebrations anyway. Chicken sends a bad message — people who are going to get fired or be made redundant are traditionally served the 無情雞 (‘no sympathy chicken’ : Mandarin ‘wú ch’íng jī,’ Cantonese ‘moh ching gaie’).
However, the Cantonese tends to serve chicken more usually (mainly because chickens are more plentiful down south of China), so draw your own conclusions.
So now you know. Don’t make that chickenshite mistake, peeps.
Za’atar (or Zahatar) pita bread
Alright, I’m 80% renegade used-car salesman (just like Dad was) in food culture — I’m irredeemably corrupted by European and/or Levantine ways. Therefore, the pita.
(I also make a concession to American popular culture with Skittles, but that’s another story.)
Actually, this Mediterranean staple doesn’t look at all thrilling from the outside. It resembles some Babylonian clay tablet with cuneiform writing covered in ancient soot after being dropped on the floor. One bite, and I promise you, you won’t be able to stop eating.
Read about za’atar on Wikipedia.
THERE is meaning behind the meal combinations. I wasn’t going to write about it because it would sound so superstitious, but what the hell…
Duck, because it signifies the ability to migrate to better climes and better feeding grounds. Good omen for business, no?
Za’atar pita, because the Levantines traditionally serve this to children to increase their mental faculties just before an exam or homework. Good omen in these tough business conditions, no?
Skittles Riddles, because “the colours don’t match the taste” (so it says on the packet) and that could be taken to mean not stuck in one view or flavour. Good omen, no?
Beer, because the German proverb has it that one finds strength in beer. Good omen, no?
© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2013. All images by author. (B13041)