Are Hong Kong people more interested in politics or lifestyle? I have worked for many years as a political journalist in Hong Kong, London, Washington DC, and Seattle. But Hong Kong politics has become humdrum. My editor suggested that instead of using political issues to explain English words, I should use lifestyle issues. I am on the same page with him. The word “lifestyle” means the way in which people live, such as the clothes they wear and the restaurants they go to. The adjective “humdrum” means boring or unexciting. If you are on the same page with someone, it means you agree with or think in the same way as that person.
In my previous column, I promised to write about Penang's multicultural cuisine, which includes Malay, Chinese and Indian cuisine. I was there last week. The word "multicultural" is used to describe groups of people of different races with different cultures. Cuisine is a style of cooking of a country or region. Many roadside stalls in Penang serve multicultural cuisine. The locals call it hawker food. A hawker is a person who sells goods, such as food, in the street. Hong Kong used to have many hawkers but not so many nowadays. Hong Kong also used to have many roadside stalls called tai pai tongs. Penang still has many, where mostly locals go.
Every time I go to Penang, my Hong Kong friends rush to stalls that serve Bak Kut Teh, which means meat bone tea. No one knows for sure where Bak Kut Teh, a soup dish made with pork ribs, meatballs, herbs, and spices, originated from. Some people believe Chinese immigrants from Fujian brought it to Malaysia. My friends and I went to a food stall called Coffee Island, which is well-known for Bak Kut Teh. A big signboard in the stall said Chinese gold and tin miners worked so hard that their manager asked kitchen staff to make herbal soup, which the miners ate with rice to stay healthy. This soup, which now includes meat, became known as Bak Kut Teh. My friends love it but I have not acquired (learnt to like) the taste.
香港人對於政治抑或生活（lifestyle）更有興趣？我在香港、倫敦、華盛頓和西雅圖當了多年的政治新聞工作者，但香港的政治已經變得很乏味（humdrum）。編輯提議我，與其用政治議題去解釋英文字，不如用生活（lifestyle）的話題。我跟他意見一致（on the same page）。Lifestyle意即生活方式，例如人們穿的服飾和會去的餐廳。形容詞humdrum是指單調乏味的。若你是on the same page with someone，即是說你跟那人意見一致，或有同樣的想法。
在上一篇專欄中，我答應過大家會寫一寫檳城那多元文化的美食（multicultural cuisine），包括馬來菜、中國菜和印度菜（cuisine）。我上星期就在檳城。Multicultural是用來形容擁有不同種族與文化的；cuisine就是某國或地區的菜式。檳城許多街邊小檔都在賣多元文化的菜式（multicultural cuisine），當地人稱之為hawker food。A hawker就是在街上擺賣貨品（如食物）的小販。香港從前也有許多小販（hawkers），但現在已沒那麼多了。香港也曾經有許多街邊的大排檔。檳城現在仍然有許多大排檔，幫襯的主要是當地人。
我每次到檳城，我的香港朋友都會湧去售賣肉骨茶（Bak Kut Teh）的攤檔。沒有人確實知道這道以豬骨、肉丸、藥材和香料製成的湯菜肉骨茶（Bak Kut Teh）真正的來源在哪。有些人相信是福建華僑將它帶往馬來西亞。我和朋友們去了一個名「皇排肉骨茶」的食檔，以肉骨茶（Bak Kut Teh）聞名。檔裏有一大塊廣告牌說，從前金礦和錫礦的華裔工人太勞苦，他們的經理就叫廚工煮些藥材湯，礦工便可以用來伴着飯吃，以保持身體壯健。現在這道湯包括了肉，就被稱為肉骨茶（Bak Kut Teh）。我的朋友們很愛吃肉骨茶，我卻未學懂（acquired）欣賞它。
Michael Chugani 褚簡寧