Icons of our time

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 03 September, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 03 September, 1995, 12:00am

NAME: The lunch-box (or faan hap).

OR: The next best thing to lunch. They come in styrofoam boxes and feature ancient dry rice with assorted 'goodies' - fatty pork, cha siu, gristly chicken and greasy duck - on top. They were invented to placate nasty employers, usually TV or film companies, who resent their employees' demands for a 30-minute break in the middle of a 15-hour day. They are handed out amid scenes resembling a United Nations soup wagon stopping in Rwanda. The recipients then squat, eat and suck their teeth before using the half-eaten box as an ashtray and returning to work.

AGE: Hard to say. It is not so much a case of age cannot wither them and more like carbon-dating cannot age them.


NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH: 1.Food. 2.Lunch. 3.The bento, or Japanese lunch-box, an exquisitely prepared and presented selection of choice yummies. Mind you, it is hardly surprising: the Japanese have made folding paper an art form. We prefer folding money.

CLOSELY RELATED TO: Pot Noodles. Let us not forget that Hong Kongers also take delight in going on holiday to exotic destinations - countries renowned for their cuisines - and stashing a massive supply of Pot Noodles in their suitcases because they do not trust the local grub.

HISTORY: It was believed that the recent discovery of 300-year-old lunch-boxes on a Lamma beach could shed new light on early Hong Kong man. But then a secondary school teacher from Kwun Tong admitted that a few of his students' packed lunches had gone missing on a geography field trip.

LUNCH-BOX PEOPLE: 1.Lunch-boxes would never have come to be were it not for the man with tattooed forearms and cigarette hanging out of his mouth who lurks behind a screen of chicken and pork hanging from hooks. He wields a chopper with the sort of flair that suggests his after-hours activities involve dark alleys in Mongkok.

2.Ah Chic (icons passim). He can only afford the good things in life (smart clothes and mobile phones) by denying his body wholesome, nutritious meals.

NON LUNCH-BOX PEOPLE: Anyone who visits the food hall in Seibu more than twice a week; anyone who features in the social pages (they do not know how to use chopsticks) and anyone with taste buds.