Shopping in Hong Kong

So a couple of weeks ago, my friends Kate, Joe and I had the brilliant idea to have a falafel night.  Falafels are a staple for me now – Ebeneezer’s is only one of two restaurants that I have been to more than once, and I go there almost once a week for their delectable falafel pita.  Drizzled in creamy mint sauce, it really is the closest thing to heaven.  We somehow got it in our heads that making falafels would be so much more fun that just eating them.  We planned, looked up recipes and picked a night.  We were going to use their kitchen since you can fit more than half a person in it (unlike mine) AND they have a blender (very important).  I was to provide the wine and the chick peas.  Easy, right?

I was on my way out to their house, a feat in itself as they live out in the New Territories, which requires riding the MTR, a mini-bus and a short little hike to their house.  But believe me, if you could see where they live compared to where I live, you would agree that it is so worth it!  It is quiet, there is space to walk without getting stepped on, and they have a fantastic view of mountains from their porch.  Anyway, back to the journey.  I stopped in the Wellcome store (yes, I know, two “l”s – that’s how the Chinese do it) to pick up chick peas.  I looked everywhere before I flagged an employee down. 

“Excuse me, where are your chick peas?”  Blank look.  “Chick peas, mm goi?” She led me over to the chicken. 

“Chicken pieces?” 

“No, chick peas.  Chick.  Peas.”  As if repeating it slower would really help. Poor girl looked so confused. 

“Can you write that down?”  So I pulled out some scrap paper and wrote it down.  She stared for a minute, then motioned for me to wait there.  About 5 minutes later, she came back carrying frozen wasabi peas. 

“No. Thank you, no.  I’ll try somewhere else.”  So off I went to store number two.  It was a local market with three isles, I didn’t even bother asking the one employee who seemed to be running the store.  Off to store number three.  Again, after much searching, I flagged down someone to help.  “Excuse me, do you carry chick peas?” 

“Excuse me, spell please?” he answered in his broken English.  So I spelled…C-H-I-C-K P-E-A-S.  His face lit up and motioned for me to follow him.  My hope rose, and then quickly fell as he led me to the fruit section and help up a kiwi.  I shook my head.

“Chick. Peas. Please.”

“Can you write please?”  So I wrote it on the side of a box.  He furrowed his brow, then dashed off to the back, leaving me to wonder if I had offended him somehow.  After contemplating if Joe and Kate would notice the difference between a kiwi and a can of chick peas, and how that might change the taste of the falafel, the guy came back and said, “No. No chick peas here.  No.”   

I sighed and trucked off to store number four, refusing to be defeated.  I decided to try a western market in hopes that they might have someone who at least could understand the different between fruit and peas.  The store was enormous and crowded and overwhelming, but they had chick peas, plain as day on isle 13.  I snagged four cans and dashed to the counter with my treasure.

And if you’ll believe it, shopping was the easy part of making the falafels.  (more to come….)

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2 thoughts on “Shopping in Hong Kong

  1. Chickpeas are also called garbanzo beans, although somehow I doubt that information would have helped in this particular situation. I have never tried to make falafel (although it is delicious), and for good reason. I am interested to see how this turns out…

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