Thursday, 10 July 2008

Hungry ghosts

In 3 weeks time, the gates of Hell will be thrown open to allow spirits to roam the earth in search of food. For the clueless, I'm talking about the Hungry Ghost Festival, where there will be getai singers, auctions and the symbolic burning of Hell notes (fake money).

This year, something important is missing. It's canned braised pork. Now, what has this canned food got to do with hungry ghosts, you wonder?

Well, it has always been a tradition for canned braised pork to be used in temple offerings. The offerings which also include roast duck, rice and soya sauce, are meant to appease the spirits.

Now that China is facing a pork shortage, we're not getting canned pork like before. More stringent rules rules on export standards have also crimped the supply. The temples are getting desperate.

It's not a laughing matter because the tradition of offering braised pork goes back about four decades. The temples are now ordering fresh pork and asking their kitchen hands to learn how to stew the meat.

I haven't had stewed canned pork in ages. When I was younger, mum used to fry bee hoon with stewed canned pork that she bought for the offerings. The fragrant oily meat goes so well with the plain rice noodles. It was an annual delicious treat. It makes me nostalgic just thinking about it.

If not for today's report, I would never have noticed they've disappeared completely from the supermarket shelves. Well, looks like our kids will never get to taste something so sinful and delicious.


Charlie Hotel said...

Well, hungry ghosts can't afford to be choosers now, can they? Guess they'll have to settle for what ever pork the earthly realm offers...

jyankee said...

well there's no real butter here in JP... is it like obon there?

Nick Phillips said...

Come to think of it, I haven't seen stewed pork being sold here for quite a while now. I love the stuff but have since given it up cos it's just too oily for me these days.