Hong Kong’s traditional cafe culture showcased at London Fair
The traditional flavors of Hong Kong coffeehouses were replicated in London in July to showcase and promote the territory’s unique heritage.
The event, titled “Bing Sutt (Icehouse Cafe): The Origin of Hong Kong-Style Cafes”, took place at Hackney Chinese Community Services Center in London on July 9-10. It was co-organized by several Hong Kong groups such as the Hong Kong Museum, Shalom Heung Gong, London Ghost Stories, Kong Fook Cheongsam, Hong Kong Culture Square and Hongkongers in London, all Hong Kong people’s organizations in Britain.
The event attracted around 100 participants, mostly Hong Kongers; the others were locals.
The population of Hong Kongers has grown into a colossal group in Britain as 120,000 people have emigrated there on the BNO visa, outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on July 1. People from the exodus have not lost their identity as Hong Kongers. Some of them organize events on Hong Kong history and culture.
Host organizations sold food from the bing-sutts of 1930s Hong Kong: mini French toast, buttered toast spiked with condensed milk or jam or peanut butter, satay beef buns, Swiss rolls, egg custard, chicken pies, pineapple buns, chai go (pudding cakes), pineapple jelly, red bean ice cream, lemon iced tea, coffee, coca cola topped with ice cream, honey drink watercress, yuen yeung (coffee-tea mix) and pour-over milk tea,
As early as the 1930s, satay beef buns were famous in Hong Kong’s bing sutts, according to Calvin, founder of the Hong Kong Museum. He said pineapple jelly was also a hit before World War II. So many farmers grew pineapples in the New Territories, especially in Tsuen Wan, that leftovers from sales were made into jelly.
Calvin considered Hong Kong’s bing-sutt culture to have developed out of English coffeehouse culture. So he hoped to replicate the culture in London.
Promoting Hong Kong with the Arts
Arkisan is a painter who moved to Britain a year ago. His stall sold watercolors and postcards depicting the anti-extradition movement, Hong Kong food culture, Cantonese songs and street scenes.
Artkisan was already a full-time designer before the social movement of 2019. At that time, she mainly painted Hong Kong landscapes and expressed her feelings about the territory through her paintings. In an exhibition, this month of June, many Britons bought his paintings. Some buyers had been living in Hong Kong for a few years and showing their support for Hong Kongers.
Book exhibits illustrate Hong Kong’s history
Political commentator Gordon Poon’s stand displayed a collection of books he treasured, including yearbooks published by the British government of Hong Kong in the 1980s, photo albums and postcards of Hong Kong scenes, as well as Hong Kong history books and books by former Governor Chris Patten.
Yearbooks are now hard to find in Hong Kong libraries, so he put them on display to show locals and Hong Kongers the true history of Hong Kong.
Vincent, the founder of London Ghost Stories, shared stories of ghosts in Britain with the public. He found Hong Kong’s ghost stories more terrifying than Britain’s. Hong Kong once had components such as marriages of the dead, infant spirits, and demonic possession.
But demonic possession plots were rare in British ghost stories. Instead, they often involved bloody murders, extramarital affairs, and historical events. And British ghosts usually lived in a form similar to a human being.
Vincent hoped Hong Kongers would understand Britain’s culture and history from ghost stories, which was a way for him to integrate into English society.