Daily Planets Tuesday 12 April 2011 About Dumplings

hong kong skyline take from victoria peak. pic by me.
hong kong skyline taken from victoria peak. pic by me.

This time last year I was in Hong Kong doing a facilities move. Whilst it was hard to be away from home for that period of time, it is a city that I find endlessly exciting and vibrant and culturally fascinating…and that is even before I pick up a set of chopsticks.

I was taken back there at lunch yesterday- possibly the best Hong Kong style food I have had in Sydney. Sure the dumplings at Din Tai Fung in World Square are great and their xiao long bao (steamed pork soup dumplings) are always perfect, it is the perfectness that detracts a little. Sort of like McDonalds for dumplings- you know you will have exactly the same experience in the World Square outlet as you do in the Singapore outlet or any of the Kuala Lumpur outlets. They are nice places to eat too…clean, well appointed & even in KL the loos aren’t dodgy.

taste of shanghai, pic by me (taken while queueing- and i don't queue for anything...)

What we got at Taste of Shanghai yesterday at Eastwood (I normally avoid anywhere with Taste of in its’ name) was crowds, slap dash service, a little imperfection and if I closed my eyes I could easily have been in Honkers. The dumplings themselves were perfect- just the right size to pop into your mouth in one go, with the perfect amount of shredded ginger and vinegar to poke into the top. Just the right amount of soup at just the right temperature, and just the right thickness of dough- not so thick that you need to gnaw through it & not so thin that an errant chopstick will pierce the skin & release all of those wonderful juices too early. And as for the drunken chicken and wontons in spicy chilli oil? Talk about Wan Chai in the middle of suburban Sydney.

xiao long bao. perfect morsels of deliciousness. pic by me.

Why am I talking about food? Because the Moon is in Cancer, of course, and for some reason, this astro blog takes on a foodie overlay for those couple of days each month. The Moon in Cancer is very belly focused (actually bellies and boobs to be strictly correct…whilst it is off the subject a tad, a man with the Moon in Cancer will often want a woman who has some of both…). This is Mother Moon in all her nurturing don’t stray too far from home have you been fed yet glory.

For both hubby and I, food takes us back to great memories, or sometimes not so great memories…and Cancer is a receptacle for that as well. It is sort of like the photo album in your brain that is made up of pictures and tastes and smells. The perfect chilli crab that tastes as fragrant as Singapore smelled the first time I stepped off a plane in that city on my very first overseas trip. The simplicity of barbecued seafood with lime and garlic and hot chilli sambals on a beach in Jimbaran Bay, Bali. The spice of murtabak and curry sauce from a hawker stall in Penang. The most perfect bircher museli in the whole wide world on a sunny September day at the (now defunct) Chocolate Fish in Wellington. When we cook together, we are often not trying to re-create a dish, but re-create a memory or a feeling. And that is also what Cancer is about- keeping memories and feelings safe.

This is just one of the reasons why every culture has a version of the jewish chicken soup for the soul. It makes you feel warm and nourished and safe. The Italians do theirs with eggy cheesy ribbons through chicken stock, the greeks do theirs with egg and lemon and chicken. The we have my personal favourite Hainese chicken (Singapore & Malaysia) or Drunken Chicken (Shanghai). Food that makes you feel better.

sunday morning breakfast at the chocolate fish, wellington, pic by me
sunday morning breakfast at the chocolate fish, wellington, pic by me

With the Moon square Mercury and Jupiter at present, there may be some pressure to do this. Why hold onto the past and the comfort of the known when the urge is there to grow and expand? Sure the past and history is important- after all, that is what brought you to this point now. Where the conflict lies is when the past is held onto because of fear of change and fear of the future. Anyways, by early afternoon tomorrow (Sydney time) the Moon will be in Leo and the sky will again be in flames…zodiacally speaking, that is… (is there even such a word?)

The biggie to watch out for over the next 24 hours is the showdown between Mars and Pluto- the two warriors. Mars in Aries has a completely different style to Pluto. Where Mars is all action man, beating his chest and peeing his territory on trees, Pluto is the demolition expert. Pluto doesn’t care how long or painful the change is as long as you get the message. This is a relatively quick transit, but be careful of what you say and do over the next day or so as the potential for misunderstandings and subsequent arguments being blown out of all proportion is so high as to be off the scale. Personally, I’m staying clear of Aries, Librans, Capricorns & Cancers…well, as far as possible anyway!

drunken chicken and sweet & sour pork ribs
drunken chicken and sweet & sour pork ribs

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