Posts Tagged With: Hong Kong

De Lancey’s Asian Fun Festival Tours

Himari, your tour guide

Third Saturday of February – Saidaiji Eyo Naked Man Festival – Men, clad only in loincloths race toward Saldaiji Templein in Okayama to collect lucky sticks. Register in advance with Saldaiji temple and buy a loincloth. Then you run around the temple for two hours and through a fountain of frigid water. This purifies your body and soul. Fully purified, the race becomes competitive. Indeed, the event has become quite a team sport with many teams sponsored by local businesses. The goal is to catch one of two wooden sticks, shingi, thrown into the racers midst by a temple priest. Catching a shingi confers good fortune for a entire year. Spectators vie for 100 lucky items thrown in the crowd. Amazingly enough, there’s a more subdued version of this for the local children. This strengthens the bonds between residents. Tourists can shop at the excitingly named street of Go Fuku Dori.

Late April to May – Steamed Buns on Bamboo –  The festival takes place in Hong Kong on or around Buddha’s Birthday. Contestants climb a giant bamboo tower covered in Chinese steamed buns. Buns picked from the top of the bamboo tower or taken on the backs of the contestants to the top are consider luckier than ones at the bottom.  Climbers try to grab as many lucky buns as they can in three minutes. Hard to reach buns give extra points. Or you could simply go for the prestigious Full Pockets of Lucky Buns award. This is won by the climber who grabs the most buns in three minutes. There is also a rather exciting team-relay event. The week-long festivities includes incense, prayers for prosperity and health, and offerings to festival’s god, Pak Tai. Wander the grounds and sample the incredible variety of steamed buns. See the festival’s spectacular parade, elaborate lion and unicorndances and marching bands. Witness the martial arts demonstrations. Don’t miss the “Floating Children” parade where children dress as Chinese deities. They sit on stands so high that they appear to be floating.

 

– Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef, Ph.D.

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

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Fun Festivals – Steamed Buns On a Bamboo Tower

 

Would you climb a giant bamboo tower for these?

Lovers of bamboo and buns will not want to miss Hong Kong’s Cheung Chau Ben Festival . The festival takes place on or around Buddhas Birthday, near the end of April or May. in Hong Kong. Contestants climb a giant bamboo tower covered in Chinese steamed buns. Um, okay, it’s not entirely clear from that whether the tower is covered in Chinese steamed buns or the climbers are covered in them. Either way, it’s pretty darn exciting. Anyway, buns picked from the top of the bamboo tower or taken on the backs of the contestants to the top are consider luckier than ones at the bottom. People there go vegetarian during this festival. It’s not clear why. Maybe I would too if I had to climb a tall tower with steamed buns all over me.

The festival’s star attraction are the huge bamboo towers covered with handmade buns. Legends says the island was plagued by an epidemic that killed thousands. Resourceful Cheung Chau locals brought in the god Pak Tai and built it a temple. Pak Tai then shooed the plague and evil spirits away.

In this festival, the inhabitants honor Pak Tai with the Bun Grabbing contest. (Naughty, mind your thoughts.) Contests clamber up a 60-foot tower that’s covered with steam buns. Climbers try to grab as many lucky buns as they can in three minutes. Hard to reach buns give extra points. Or you could simply go for the prestigious Full Pockets of Lucky Buns award. This is won by the climber who grabs the most buns in three minutes. There is also a rather exciting team-relay event.

It’s not at all clear to me how grabbing buns of a bamboo tower shows gratitude to a god who stopped a plague or why these buns are lucky. But there you go. The locals love the event. Tourists from all over the globe come to see it. And you should too. So make your flight plans. Book your hotel and by all means see the Bun Grabbing contest. It’s on the last day of the festival.

But there’s more to this festival than grabbing buns. The week-long festivities includes incense, prayers for prosperity and health, and offerings to festival’s god. Pay a respectful visit to Pak Tai’s altars.

Then wander around the grounds and sample the incredible variety of steamed buns sold by the many food vendors. Heavens, those steamed buns are tasty. And be sure to bring home souvenirs of the event.

Don’t get so distracted by the yummy buns that you miss the festival’s spectacular parade. See elaborate lion dances (No, no ravenous, wild lions are used), and marching bands. Be entranced by the martial arts demonstrations. Biff, biff. Don’t miss the “Floating Children” parade where children dress as Chinese deities. They sit on stands so high that they appear to be floating.

But wait, there’s more. See unicorn dances. Does your town have anything like that? No, I didn’t think so.

It’s well worth arriving in Hong Kong the weekend before the festival for the preliminary Bun Carnival. Watch instructions teach you how to climb the Bun Tower. Climb it for fun. Practice on it. If you find you’re good enough, why not enter the event itself? Go for it. Do it for yourself. Do it for me. Do it for all us who aren’t able to attend.

Oh my gosh, this sounds like such a fun festival.

 

– Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef, Ph.D.

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

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Fun Festivals – Wife Carrying Championships

 

The best way to carry the wife

Ronkainen, a legendary Finnish robber of the 1700s, had would-be gang members carry a heavy woman over an obstacle course to prove their strength. The annual wife-carrying championships in Sonkajaarvi, Finland derive from this test. Wife carrying is not an Olympic sport. However, synchronized swimming is.

Couples race around a track well stocked with obstacles such as logs and a deep pool. At one time, the woman in the event had to be the man’s wife, but neighboring women are allowed. The designated wife must weigh 49 kilograms or 108 pounds. You might think a good wife for this race would be as tiny as possible. But no, the winners earn the wife’s weight in beer. The wife must also be at least seventeen-years old. The entry fee as press time was 50 Euros.

Olympians and marathon runners compete alongside, amateurs, and strange couples on their honeymoons. This seems unfair, but in some respects, the Wife Carrying Championship remains a wide-open sport. And oh my gosh, in addition to the regular race, there is a relay race as well. Root heartily for you favorite team.

Add in the karaoke events, you’ll want to return time and time again. And not just to Finland. National championships exist in America, Britain, Germany, India, Hong Kong, and Australia. Surely, there must be a wife-carrying race near you.

Oh no, the 2021 championship was cancelled due to the Covid pandemic. Middle of next summer, then.

See you there

– Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef, Ph.D., travel guru

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

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Peanut Butter French Toast

Hong Kong Breakfast

PEANUT BUTTER FRENCH TOAST

INGREDIENTS

4 slices thick white bread*
6 tablespoons condensed milk
¼ cup smooth peanut butter
3 eggs
½ cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons butter
½ cup golden syrup or maple syrup

* = Really should be milk bread, but it’s powerful hard to find outside an Asian bakery.

Serves 2 or 4, depending if you want to skip the next meal. These really are calorie bombs. Takes 30 minutes.

PREPARATION

Spread 1st bread slice with 3 tablespoons condensed milk. Spread a 2nd bread slice with 2 tablespoons peanut butter. Place 2nd bread slice, peanut butter side down, on 1st bread slice. Gently press the bread slice together to make a sealed sandwich. Repeat for 2nd sandwich..

Add eggs to mixing bowl. Whisk eggs until well blended. Dredge the sandwiches through the eggs until they are well coated, but not soggy. Add vegetable oil to pan. Fry at medium-high heat for 1-to-2 minutes on each side or until golden brown. (The 2nd sandwich is likely to take less than the 1st.) Remove sandwich. Add 1 tablespoon butter to the middle of the top slice. Drizzle ¼ cup golden syrup over sandwich. Cut in half, if desired. Repeat for remaining sandwich.

TIDBITS

1) Asphalt roads are built with asphalt.

2) The Yellow Brick Road was built with yellow bricks.

3) The Silk Road was built with silk. Silk is strong. This is why construction crews prize silkworms so highly. Look up how many silkworms were employed building the Empire State Building.

4) The recently completed Peanut Butter French Toast Road (PBFTR) was built with peanut butter French toast. Of course, Of course, newly cooked peanut French toast while tasty is completely unable to support the weigh of a big-rig truck or even a bicycle. You have to let the toast dry out. In the meantime, workers can be fed using the same peanut butter French toast. Name one other road-building material that’s edible. Not concrete, let me tell you. The closest thing America has to China’s culinary engineering is its famed Tobacco Road.

Chef Paul

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

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Nepali Pizza (chatamari)

Nepali Entree

NEPALI PIZZA
(chatamari)

INGREDIENTSchatamari-

1 cup black lentils (matpe beans)
3 cups water

1 cup water (about, check for consistency of batter as you add.)
½ cup ghee or butter (1 additional cup later.)
6 garlic cloves
½ tablespoon ginger
1 large onion
½ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 Roma tomatoes
2 chicken breasts or substitute with 1 egg per chatamari

INGREDIENTS – BASE

3 cups rice flour
1 cup ghee or butter
½ teaspoon salt

makes 12 chatamaris. Soaks overnight, then takes about 1½ hours.

SPECIAL UTENSIL

food processor

Soak black lentils in water overnight or until lentil skins become loose. Rinse lentils with water. Drain. Add lentils, 1 cup water, and ½ cup ghee to food processor. Blend until you get a smooth paste. Dice garlic, ginger, onion, and tomato. Thoroughly mince chicken. Add garlic, ginger, onion, pepper, salt, and oil to pan. Sauté on medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until onion softens. Add tomato, lower heat to medium and sauté for 1 minute.

Add rice flour, lentil paste, and salt to large mixing bowl. Mix with hands until you get a cake-like batter. Gradually add about 1 cup water until you get the right consistency. Add ghee to pan. Melt ghee using medium heat. Add 3 tablespoons ghee to the pan for the first chatamari and then add more later as necessary. Add ⅓ cup batter. Make base by spreading batter evenly and thinly with spatula until it’s 8″ in diameter. Cover base with equal amounts of minced chicken and sautéed garlicc/onion. Cook using medium heat for 3-to-5 minutes or until chicken/garlic/onion.is done. Chicken should be completely white. Cooking times tend to go down for each chatamari.

TIDBITS

1) There is no I in team or Nepal, but there is an I in victory and Nepali.

2) Nepali is an anagram for Alpine, which is cool. The Alps and Nepal are also cool from their tall mountains.

3) There is a lot of Snow, gratuitously capitalized, in the Alps and in Nepal.

4) Snow is an anagram for swon.

5) The plural form of swon is also swon, just like the plural of moose is moose.

6) The swon is the natural enemy of the moose.

7) The exciting swon festival is held every year or so in Crebano, Ruritania. Come early to see to the exploding cabbage competition.

8) If you are having trouble finding Ruritania on your map, may I suggest heading to Nepal for Holi, or the Festival of Colors, to celebrate the end of winter. However, it’s held in March and you’ll be in the Himalayan Mountains. It’s kinda like going to Wisconsin for your spring break. However, you do get paint yourself with various dyes. Again, like going to Madison, Wisconsin to see the Badgers play football. The one true difference between Nepal and Wisconsin is that the Nepali like to eat chatamari while the Wisconsinites prefer to munch on bratwursts. Your call.

9) If you happen to be Asia a month earlier, you might wish to see the Naked Man Festival in Japan. The best one is reportedly held in Okayama, although how they decided this is difficult to measure. The men, clad only in loincloths race toward Saldaji Temple to collect lucky sticks. I can just see a naked man saying, “Honestly officer, I’m not fleeing an enraged husband. I’m participating in the Naked Man Festival.” The officer will roll his eyes. “Like I haven’t heard that one before.”

10) After participating in the Naked Man Festival in Japan and having gotten drunk for two months, missed your flight home, and having your wallet and ID stolen, why not take in the Penis Festival held the first Sunday of April? People head to the Kanayama shrine to see giant penises, made, I hope, from paper maché or wood. Appreciate the many penis drawings and costumes.

11) Lovers or bamboo and buns will not want to miss the Cheng Chau Ben Festival held every May in Hong Kong. Contestants climb a giant bamboo covered in Chinese steamed buns. Um, okay, it’s not entirely clear whether the tower is covered in Chinese steamed buns or the climbers are covered in them. Either way, it’s pretty darn exciting. Anway, buns picked from the top of the bamboo tower or taken on the backs of the contestants to the top are consider luckier than ones at the bottom. People there go vegetarian during this festival. It’s not clear why. Maybe I would too if I had to climb a tall tower with steamed buns all over me.

13) Meat lovers will want to savor the Pig Parade held in Malolos, Philippines in mid September. Watch pigs dressed in all sorts of costumes and wearing makeup. See if you agree with the judges’ decision of the best dressed pig. But win or lose, it doesn’t matter in this egalitarian contest as winners and losers alike get roasted for the magnificent feast.

– Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

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