East met West in grand style in Hong Kong when four top chefs from France were treated to a gala Chinese banquet on Monday (16 January).
East met West in grand style in Hong Kong when four top chefs from France were treated to a gala Chinese banquet on Monday (16 January). The chefs, sponsored by the colony's Tourist Association, ate their way through a 14-course feast, which included many renowned Chinese delicacies - from Peking Duck to Bear's Paw and snakes.
SYNOPSIS: Hong Kong boasts more than 4,000 restaurants. The banquet was a combined effort by four leading establishments, each socialising in dishes from a particular region of China.
A Chinese cook held a live snake before preparing it for the feast; a disturbing way to illustrate the freshness of the food. Snake is a popular winter food, eaten traditionally with a garnish of white chrysanthemum petals.
Meanwhile, in the kitchen, preparation of the banquet's main dish -- bear's paw -- neared in climax. The paws had been cut off and marinated in lime for four days before cooking.
As they sat down to the banquet, some guests found it hard to prise open a mound of steaming mud. Inside, wrapped in lotus leaves was beggar's chicken. The dish dates from the 16th century, when a beggar had to cook a stolen chicken without utensils.
For experts who know that great meals need the meticulous preparation of many ingredients, a highlight of the evening was a spectacular display of Chinese noodle-making by hand. Top-class professionals always relish watching other professionals at work. The Frenchmen spent three weeks in the East, and their gourmet tour also took them to China.