>Friday Night at a Dai Pai Dong


Every Friday night a group of expats gather at a particular dai pai dong. What is a dai pai dong? People tell me it is “street food,” thought Wikipedia says the actual phrase means “big license.” They are part of Hong Kong’s history. They are characterized by makeshift structure of canvas without air conditioning and with folding chairs and tables.

The one where this group meets is in Fo Tan in the old village now surrounded by high rise apartment buildings. It is a maze–you enter at any number of points, walking through something that resembles a kitchen, or by refrigerators, etc. To find this expat group you look like a westerner–they know where to point you to get through the maze to get to that particular tent area. Or you say gweilo (white ghost), the derogatory word for westerner–that works.

Life starts after 7 p.m. when everyone starts coming to eat dinner. The dai pai dong in Fo Tan is huge! You can walk on and on through the various “temporary” structures and kitchen-like walkways, that are all pieced together. By 8 p.m. it is full of people with only this one group of gweilo-type people on Friday night.

>Cross-Cultural Mystery: Where do Bread Ends Go?

When you buy a loaf of bread in Hong Kong, its ends are missing. It has become a half-loaf. Where do the heels go? This is a great mystery. Is there a bread-ends dumping ground someplace? This is an American question.

When Hong Kong natives go to the United States and buy a chicken, they wonder…where do the feet go? Is there a chicken feet dumping ground someplace? This is a Hong Kong question.