You’ve probably heard the girl out of the trailer park version of this saying, sometimes used derogatorily (I’ve taken it to mean that even if you take someone out of their birthplace, usually to a “higher” social position certain qualities will always remain in them, not always good ones. But I prefer to think of it as a rootedness to culture and heritage.
Dai Pai Dongs. Open air food stalls where you eat like a local, quintessential Hong Kong. “What have you been eating for the last month?”, asks Mr P. I take him down the back alley by our Sai Kung apartment, to a whole row of DPDs. He doesn’t get it. I can tell. But I just love it. Street food of all kinds. At home, a baked potato from the street seller with beans and cheese, or cottage cheese and garlic butter and black pepper is an all time favorite. In Israel I fell in love with Falafel King. I love hot chestnuts from a paper bag. Dumplings from a street seller. Roasted corn on the cob, sardines sold off makeshift oil drum barbecues. The pop up restaurants of Jemaa-el-fan square at the heart of Marrakech were a highlight of my Moroccan holiday. And all of these could probably be closed down by Environmental Health in a heartbeat.
Everyone who knows me really well, will know how much joy I get from skip trawling – Christmas trees, items to salvage and reuse. How sad I was to leave West Pier in St Ives, the flat I furnished with junk shop pieces, reclaimed items, charity shop finds. How my favourite pieces in my wardrobe are from charity shops. How, when I lived in Stratford upon Avon I knew which night the stores put out their cardboard waste, and would raid the bags for great visual display items that I could recycle into art projects for children.
Yesterday, I had lunch in Stanley at a Dai Pai Dong. Slurped my wanton and noodles with the locals and tourists in the know. Sat opposite two happy giggling teenagers from mainland China. And later that evening was lucky enough to dine at the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, one of the oldest and famous sporting clubs of Hong Kong. Both were fabulous, each in their own way but cam you guess which one made me smile the most?