One of my favorite aspects of LPCUWC is the canteen table conversations. In LPC, we have a canteen where we sit down together at the mealtime and get noisy after a while. Canteen table conversations are of various topics - ranging from serious topics such as ‘why did no one saw the 2008 economic crisis coming?’ to completely random things such as the length of yellow bananas in Turkey.
Teachers sometimes sit down together with the students to have a meal together and join the conversation. In last a few weeks, I was fortunate enough to have a few conversations with a number of teachers. In this blog post, I am posting one of my conversation with one of my teachers to give you an idea of what a canteen table conversation in LPC sounds like.
We were discussing about drinks in different countries.
Pi: Then, what is the common drink in Hong Kong?
JC: Well, there is a drink which is a mixture of coffee and tea, called Yuenyeung (鴛鴦). The name Yuenyeung refers to a type of bird species which flies together (looks at me and my Mongolian friend) in pairs.
Pi: By the way, do you know a Chinese food called Yu Char Kway (油炸鬼)? I think it is what they call in Cantonese.
JC: Can you describe it to me, please?
Pi: It is a long fried dough.
JC: Yes, I know Yu Char Kway (油炸鬼). It is a crunchy deep-fried pastry with two strips of dough joined together.
Pi: How do you usually eat it here?
JC: We usually eat just that. In some occasions, we roll them inside another layer of dough so that you have the crunchy part inside. Speaking of Yu Char Kway, do you guys know the legend associated with it?
Pi (and the rest of the table): No.
JC: So it goes like this. The meaning of Yu Char Kway (油炸鬼) is oil- fried devil. Since you all are still eating, I will not go into the yucky details. In ancient China, which I think is the Song Dynasty, they have an equivalence of the prime minister. The bribery to him was strong and he plotted the assassination of a Chinese general at that time, who got the support of most people. So, the people did not like the prime minister. Since that time, they started eating the fried two strips of dough which represents the prime minister and his wife.
Pi: Woah. I am just asking because we also have Yu Char Kway (油炸鬼) in Myanmar. We call it ei kyar kway (အီကြာကွေး). So, it’s the same pronounciation for the last two words, but with yu (油) replaced by Mandarin yi (一). It is a very common breakfast food so I have always thought that it is a traditional food, until I come here.
JC: I see, it is not surprising to see common food in different places in East Asia.
Pi: But the way we eat is quite different. In Myanmar, you can get them in the morning in tea shops. The way we eat goes like this. First, we dip the ei kyar kway (အီကြာကွေး) in the milk tea - the one made with condensed milk. Then, we take a bite. The ei kyar kway (အီကြာကွေး) absorbs the milk tea inside and it has a crunchy texture. The people love the milk tea oozing out of the crunchy bites.
JC: Oh, I will try eating that way next time. I will tell that one of my students taught me to eat this way.
Pi: Yes, you should. Oh, it’s already 12:30, I need to chok chok (速速).