After SARS came out a year ago newspapers worldwide were filled with stories about the eating habits of Southern China, particularly in Guangdong province (Canton), which is the area that Hong Kong was part of before it was split off into a British colony, and still has many cultural links to. I read a lot of stories about horrific semi-underground markets where one can purchase for consumption a whole range of animals from the most mundane such as chickens or pigs to exotic and often highly endangered animals, possibly stopping just short of the very well protected pandas. Well, with the relatively tight customs controls between the Hong Kong Semi Autonomous Region and the mainland no markets like that could possibly exist. While eating a large variety of animals has been part of Cantonese culture for a long time, in Hong Kong their options are very restricted and this snake soup is one of the few mildly outlandish things readily avaliable.
I think this shop was somewhere in the vicinity of Mangkok; Rondy had said it was near where she lived as a child, and she had often eaten snake soup in similar restaurants. Snake and turtle were the only things on the menu, and can be got either individually or in a mixed soup. As condiment the table has a box of those crispy noodles that are served along with tea and menus in almost every American Chinese restaurant. This was the only place in China that I ever saw these noodles. The snake was pretty good. As you can see, the long slender chunks of meat constantly remind you of what you’re eating. The tate of the meat was probably somewhere between poultry and fish, but actually the soup itself is so strong that it was a little hard to tell. Rondy said the broth tasted a little mediciny, which isn’t inappropriate considering that snake soup is a dish that’s often eaten as a kind of simple medicine.
Meat Filled Rice Wrapped in Lotus Leaf Lower-Right
February 29 2004
We ate this at a food court in the mall on Lantou Island on the way to here. After the rice is baked inside the leaf it gets a kind of a hard, slightly shiny crust and soaks up some sweetness from the lotus. It was pretty good.
Hong Kong Street Food Vendor Lower-Left
March 2 2004