Fashion people love autumn and winter because that’s when they get to wear all the clothes they’ve saved for when it’s cool enough. When it’s 32 degrees Celsius and 98 per cent humidity, sashay quickly turns into sweaty, even in a loose linen dress. When it’s colder, you can layer different tops, accessorise with hats and scarfs, drape a jacket over your shoulder and generally mix and match your way through the whole closet. Food people feel a similar affinity for colder weather because they believe it gives them a licence to eat a lot more. It’s generally agreed that we need more food in the winter to keep warm and maintain our body temperature. I read that Arctic explorers require about 8,000 calories a day for their treks. In contrast, we’re fine with 2,000 calories for our daily chores. Of course, part of the reason for their increased metabolism is they’re walking 10 to 12 hours a day to reach the North Pole. Keeping your core warm in winter doesn’t require that much more intake, especially if you own things like sweaters and jackets. Most of us are also desk-bound so we don’t actually need that much extra fuel. The cold is really just an excuse for eating an extra bag of chips. Ignorance is bliss when you’re indulging. “You need to build up a layer of insulation,” a friend would joke, before ordering a big plate of pork belly, cassoulet, lamb chops and a tub of mashed potato. A full stomach begets a warm belly. There is something very satisfying about hot food – and a lot of it – on a cold day. It might not be coincidental that the major holidays this time of the year all revolve around feasts – Thanksgiving, Christmas and Chinese New Year. Four favourite Hong Kong winter dishes and secrets behind them If there isn’t a smorgasbord of food on the table, these celebrations don’t really count. On a Fourth of July summer day, Americans are content with everyday fare of hot dogs and burgers on the grill, because the big attraction for that holiday is the fireworks at night. That’s not the case with family gatherings at Christmas or Chinese New Year (assuming it’s safe then to socialise with your relatives). You need a big turkey with all the trimmings, or a large platter of suckling pig and roast goose to anchor these holidays. Hong Kong has a subtropical climate, without the snow and sleet that most people consider a part of real winter, but we certainly try to eat like we have a cooler climate. I think local people connect most with their autumn cuisines. Many people think that claypot rice and hotpot restaurants are only busy when the puffer jackets come out. True Hongkongers know they don’t need a reason (or a season) for cold weather food. I have friends whose favourite pastime is to hotpot in August with the air conditioner on full blast. They go from sweltering humidity to shivering goosebumps to a broth steam facial and the meat sweats of too much sliced beef and spicy satay dipping sauce. There are other foods that warm my cockles as well as my intestines. My French friends have regular evenings of raclette and fondue. They just don’t want to hear what all that cheese does for their cholesterol level, and even less about these foods’ Swiss origin. I really crave Korean barbecue and bibimbap when the temperature drops. Just the sound of the sizzling stone pot and the grilled meats automatically warms me. Same with pho. I know Vietnam is as tropical as Hong Kong, but I ate a lot of raw beef noodle soup at school in Canada. On many a cold, dark Toronto night, it really hit the spot – and, no doubt, saved me from frostbite when I had to walk home afterwards.