Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Lemon Cookies - Hong Kong's Meaning of Eat Lemon
The first thing you learn when you are learning a new language is...the bad language. Hehehe.
Despite my Chinese heritage, I don't speak Chinese. I know, I know. Shame on me. I find learning to speak a foreign language is not easy. For me, especially Chinese, where with every single tonal mishap I risk insulting the person I was talking to (and possibly including his/her mother or even the whole family. LOL). I've been living in countries where Chinese is widely used, such as Singapore, and now Hong Kong....and I still don't speak the language fluently. I've been living in Hong Kong for more than 6 years, for Dim Sum's sake!!!
I love Hong Kong and its culture to the bone, but my lack of courage and my lack of exposure to the language (my friends and my workmates are all English speakers and they feel more comfortable speaking to me in English) contributed in the slow progress my learning. Funnily, I can speak English in Hong Kong accent and fluently use some expressions such as "lar, lor, lei..aiya, and wor" every now and then, plus literally translating Cantonese slangs to English. When the locals listen to my Canto-influenced-English, they would either laugh their azz off, or think of me as a pretentious azz (why can't she just speak in Cantonese instead of this freaked up Canto-English?) and I can't blame 'em.
Naturally, I know quite a lot of Cantonese bad words *grin*. Those were the very first things my friends taught me. Hehe. I could expertly orchestrated an elaborate phrase consists of seven bad words or more, aimed solely for my friend's amusement. My good friend taught me her principals regarding bad language, which I think is very profound "I don't have to use it, but I need to know it, in case people use it against me" and mine was more like "Before someone else say it to me, I'd better say it to them first" LOL! Profound, eh? Anyway, I had a good time learning Cantonese bad words. Although they might be offensive to others (sorry about that), they sound really funny to my foreign ears. I bet you start to wonder what kind of good friends I have here...hehe...I can assure you that they don't only teach me bad words, they teach me so much more than that. They teach me some super-practical, always-used-outside-the-office slangs...and one of my favorites is: "Eat Lemon" (sik ling mung), which roughly means being rejected.
I like a guy, I asked him out for a date, he said no = he treats me to eat lemon
"Eat lemon" conveys the feeling of sourness from being rejected, for a gesture (asking someone for a date) that normally comes with deeper motives (I like the guy and hope he'd go on a date with me and like me too)
Although the phrase means something negative, funny thing is, Hong Kongers love their lemons. Lemon tea (hot or iced) is one of the most popular drink in local coffee shops. They don't just scent their tea with a tinge of lemon, they "kill the lemon" in their tea, as if stabbing the sliced lemon pieces in their tea fiercely as if it is their biggest enemy...making sure that their tea is heavily infused with lemon's sour taste. It is probably because most people believe that drinking sour stuff makes you slim. Yeah, right. I am snorting high sugar, highly lemoned iced tea outta my nose. HAHA!
Honoring my favorite Hong Kong slang, I've decided to bake my first cookies....
The recipe is adapted from Jen Yu's Lime Meltaways and about.com. I switched the lime to lemon (lemons are easier to find at the market just downstairs my flat ^_^)
- 1 & 1/2 sticks of butter, softened
- 2/3 cup caster sugar
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1&3/4 cups, plus 2 tbsp flour
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- zest of 1 lemon
- a dash of vanilla essence
- a pinch of salt
Using a hand mixer, beat butter and 2/3 cup sugar until fluffy. Add lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla, beat until mixed well. In a mixing bowl, mix flour, cornstarch and salt. Add to the butter mixture, and beat with a hand mixer on low speed until mixed well. I don't have parchment paper, so I rolled 2 logs with 3 cm diameter (1 round and 1 square-ish). Chill for at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 175C. I lined my baking tray with foil, buttered slightly. Slice cookie log into 5mm slices, place rounds on buttered foil, spaced 2 cm apart. Bake until slightly golden, about 15 minutes. Cool for about 10 minutes. Store cookies in airtight containers.
I baked just half a log and keep the rest chilled. Baked cookies can be stored up to two weeks, frozen dough can be kept up to 3 months.
The original recipe calls for coating the warm cookies with confectioner's sugar...but I didn't bother. They were already fabulously buttery and lemony. My friends, the Hong Kongers, looooooved them.
Just this time, they were happy about being treated to eat lemons ^_^
I'm off to Manila for a few days for work, boys and girls. Hope I'll have some time to fatten my Manila colleagues up and report back with some deliciousness. See ya!