Saturday, February 20, 2010

Common scents in HK

Many Asian cities I have visited have unique aromas, which I soon come to associate with a distinct part of the city or the experience of being there. I'll never forget the scents along the roads and the Chao Praya River in Bangkok, my first Asian city years ago. Not altogether pleasant but distinctive and even romantic, cementing the sure knowledge that I was far far from home, and loving it....

For Jase and me, I think the indelible (and horrid) aroma of stinky tofu being fried and served by street vendors in the streets adjacent to our hotel will be our memorable Hong Kong scent.

To describe it as the aroma you might encounter from an overflowing sewer or a public restroom that hadn't been cleaned for 4-5 days would just begin to capture the pungency. OK OK, it smelled like shit---especially in the latter parts of the evening when the frying oil was screaming out to be changed. Did not seem to dissuade the customers, though, who were lined up four and five persons deep to buy their little brown tofu square of happiness. I'm usually game for most new foods and cultural experiences, but this one had 'gag me' written all over it. We both passed.

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