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  • 執筆者の写真Yuko

Encounter with Babaganush triggers your secret sense in Hong Kong


A strong, overwhelming feeling of my five senses gripped me and triggered my taste buds as I encountered the smoky, juicy Babaganoush. One sweltering day , during a short break after a four-hour shift working in a French crepe shop called "’Rendezvous’" in Hong Kong in 1999, I was rambling down a path in the SOHO area.

Having completed an intensive language course at Xiamen University in Mainland China, I searched for a proper job to challenge the boundless expanse of the world while I was working as a part time to pay the bill. I was young and poor, only curiosity was the fuel of my days.

Hong Kong is the ultimate Asian city,; it is small enough, however it is vibrant, brash, socially unequal, and distinctly cosmopolitan. From my perspective, mere words can't describe this highly contrasted in tinted hue showering the imposing sunshine, where you have a guarantee to find something breathtaking.

Scarcely breathing, I entered the scarlet red, Chinese temple covered with pungent incense smoke and walked it through it . At the very end of a dead-end street stood a rather run-down, mysterious, unsaturated coloured house which had written on it HABIBI. I approached it in while dwelling in/a dwell of anxiety and I entered. Just inside the front door carved with geometrics, it there was such a space decorated with light blue tiles and gold arched windows. Hanging lamps made of silver and glass from a ceiling, pretty as a picture from my childhood favourite "Alladin's house", there are several tables on the crimson carpet. Habibi was a restaurant. Just behind tables on a rickety bar stool stood a man with a pair of dark big eyes and dark curly hair, said "Madam, sit down please. I will bring the menu" with an exotic accent English. While waiting for him with the menu, smoke of incense was floating in the atmosphere and sat in my nose. This is the cat's pajamas to erase overwhelmed sweetness, all of a sudden after working in a clammy kitchen of Randezvous, which had started annoying me.

I opened a menu. My eyes were struck by the word, "Babaganush". What was it?

I used my full imagination to guess what, then I asked the waiter. He smilingly said with an exotic accent that it was made of aubergine."Aubergine?" He bombarded me with another exotic word. Two in one moment? It was utterly unprecedented and suddenly made everything else on the menu look like ugly sisters. "I will take Babaganoush" I declared.

My brain kept finding some clues, mad as a hatter. I Even I dived into my subconscious mind while sipping a cup of fresh mint tea. Every single sip accumulated awesome breaths into an engine of my imagination. It said “Never better, the doors of perception never close."

The plate of Babaganush presented to me. It was a small bawl bowl of earthy coloured paste with some crepe like bread. No! hope against hope, crepe again! Was it a kind of "pay the piper"? The sight was surprising ed and discomfiting both, therefore, my fingers were more or less grudgingly picking a piece of bread to dip this ubiquitous hummus like paste. Marked to here

No sooner had I tossed it into my mouth with heady optimism, than my tongue swam in smooth texture, smoky subtle bitterness and acridity. It was amazingly delicious despite its incredulous appearance. By the time I reached the last piece of bread, which was called pitta by the way, this distinctive taste and flavour had conjured up something I am familiar with.

Eventually, the waiter brought my favourite vegetable to show me. Eggplant! The shiny round beautiful purple vegetables were/are smiling at me in his hands.

Babaganus is still the ace of my heart and the element of surprise is my sixth sense to cultivate the existing five senses.





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