Tuesday, May 14, 2013

What's In A Name? With A Couple of Cantonese Favorites It's Not What You Think

I love the pineapple buns you get at Cantonese bakeries, (known in Cantonese as bo lo bao, literally pineapple bun).  This is in part because I really like the flavor of pineapples.  So imagine my chagrin when after years of eating these I find that there's no pineapple content at all to a pineapple bun.  (I always thought the pineapple was the powdery yellow stuff on top of the bun.)   The term pineapple bun describes the look of the bun, craggy on top like the surface of a pineapple, and has nothing to do with the ingredients.  (Actually the naming is similar to the Cantonese chicken tail bun, a sweet bun made with coconut which clearly has no poultry content.  The name chicken tail bun is an adaptation of "cocktail bun", which is an amalgam of ground up day old buns, coconut and sugar.)  The only thing that makes me not feel completely silly is that very few people are aware of the lack of pineapple in pineapple buns.  Oh well.

More recently one sees Hong Kong style restaurants serving dishes called French Style Shrimp and French Style Fish.  These are dishes served in the manner of the very popular French Style Filet Mignon found at most Hong Kong style restaurants in the Los Angeles area these days.  This is a slightly spicy, slightly sweet. slightly savory dish served on a bed of shredded lettuce and garnished with tomato slices at each end of the dish.   The presentation of French Style Filet Mignon is pretty much uniform in all the Chinese restaurants, and French Style Shrimp and French Style Fish are cooked in the identical manner--spicy, savory, sweet with shredded lettuce and sliced tomatoes.  But what the restaurants who serve French Style Shrimp or Fish seem to have forgotten (or perhaps never knew) is that French Style refers to cutting up the meat into small cubes.  It does not refer to the accompanying ingredients and manner of preparation.  And French Style Shrimp and French Style Fish are definitely not cut into little cubes.   What's next?  French Style Rice?