A recipe for feel-good government messages at new year reception
with Annemarie Evans. Andrew Sun is on leave. Additional reporting by Clara Mak, Vivian Chen and Fiona Ng.
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.