There comes a time in the life of every exile when you simply MUST have the food of the old country.
Such a time came to me yesterday when I was editing episode 7 in my podcast CantoNews from Exile. In this episode, former Cantonese student Gregg (ah-Dak) who now whiles away his days in California, joined me in reminiscing wistfully about Hong Kong. We lingered especially long on all the wonderful dim sum we had had there, and what the real meaning was behind the names of the dishes. Innocent sounding Chin Cheung Fan (煎腸粉）for example, actually means pan friend intestine flour.
And Chinese people don't even say "dim sum" - they say 去飲茶 (heui yam cha, go to drink tea.) This and many other misunderstandings can be totally got out of the way when you take Cantonese lessons from me!
But I digress.
So while editing this stuff I felt an uncontrollable urge to eat ha gau, siu mai, lou mai gai... NOW! I started googling dim sum in Barcelona, dim sum in Valencia, even Madrid! For I had to have it. I planned to go and come back on the same day, leaving my dog with some tins of food and a can opener.
Then I thought, hang on, I haven't even checked if they do any dim sum here in Palma. I knew Kung Fu China used to do it and good it was too, but that closed during Covid. But bugger me if a new restaurant called Made in China (haaaa) hasn't sprung up, 25 minutes' walk from my house. And they had dim sum.
Living in exile you can't ask too much, that a restaurant calling itself specialists in Cantonese cuisine should have any Cantonese speaking staff, for example, but at least the ha gau tasted like it should. The less said about chicken rolls with mango drenched in curry mayonnaise, on the other hand, is perhaps the better.
I will still go to Valencia, Barcelona and Madrid, see if I don't! But at least I managed to stave off the worst hunger pangs. And it took the bitter edge of re-listening to this podcast:
Thank you again, ah-Dak! Please come back soon.
Today's Cantonese: 蝦餃 Ha gau (NOT "kau"!) Prawn dumpling