A recipe for feel-good government messages at new year reception
To the unsuspecting layman, it looked like a pork bun, but at a new year dinner for journalists hosted by 'Mr Square Jaw Henry' Tang Ying-yen, the food took on a political and auspicious aura.
In treating the media to a culinary feast on Saturday, the chief secretary used the Year of the Ox and linguistic gymnastics to drive home a few feel-good government messages. On one side of the menu provided, journalists could read what the food was; on the other side, what it signified.
Char siu [pork] bun with pineapple, for example, became a 'wish for the West Kowloon project to take place'. This was followed by vegetarian dumplings dubbed with the environmental slogan 'green living in the Pearl River Delta' - a message that comes in a year when a plastic bag tax is to be introduced and as the government rolls up its sleeves to tackle ever-fuller landfills.
Through a haze of Bouchard Meursault Poruzots 2000 and Chateau Andreas 1998 wine, journalists slurped a Chinese herb soup 'to stabilise the economy' and feasted on glutinous rice to help 'keep the rice bowl'. Stir-fried beef chops with garlic were served up to 'wish for a bullish market'.
Two different kinds of Chinese dessert - almond tea and egg white plus red-date cake (a play on Tang's family name) - were served.
But the one that perhaps would have put off even the hungriest journalist was chicken in soy sauce - 'to stay away from the bird flu'.
Whoa, pass the tofu.