Learning English through Popular Culture
Recently the Hong Kong Government published a list of intangible cultural heritage items that the city should protect. The following were on the list: Traditional egg tarts and mahjong
Write a letter to the editor of the Hong Kong Daily supporting the Government’s choice of these two features of Hong Kong culture, suggesting why they are worth protecting and how they can be protected.
Egg Tarts and Mahjong: Our Old Hong Kong
Traditional egg tarts and mahjong bring back memories of the old days. The scene of my mother playing mahjong while we children eating egg tarts decades ago comes back to my mind again. They are the important part of the old Hong Kong. Recently, the Government has included these two local cultural features as intangible cultural heritage. It is a welcome move. As Hong Kong has developed into an international city where East meets West, we are under the constant influence of Eastern and Western culture, ranging from Japanese food, Korean pop culture to American TV dramas and Hollywood movies. As foreign culture prevails in Hong Kong, Hong Kong local culture is losing appeal and fading away from our daily life. To prevent our local culture from dying, the Government should protect our cultural heritage in order to pass on the history and memory to the next generation.
Traditional egg tarts were signature food of the last century. They were famous for its crust and sweet flavour, and were sold and served by local bakeries and cafes. Almost every Hongkonger has eaten egg tarts. Do you remember those days when you were waiting for the hot, freshly made egg tarts at one of the nearby bakeries in the neighborhood as a treat after school? When we were poor and young in those days, we always scrambled to the bakery and lined up for the egg tarts which were ready to be sold at a quarter past three after the school bell rang. We were satisfied because egg tarts were not only yummy but also cheap. Egg tarts actually grew up with us. They are our collective memory of the old Hong Kong. Therefore, egg tarts are worth protecting.
Mahjong was a famous game among Hong Kong people of the last century. The sound of playing mahjong was often heard along the corridor of the housing estate. Some TV game shows were even based on mahjong and attracted millions of audience. Mahjong was also a game among family, friends and relatives during the Chinese New Year because it is a symbol of solidarity. However, mahjong is disappearing from our daily life because there are so many entertainment options available. Similar to egg tarts, mahjong is our collective memory of the old Hong Kong. Therefore, mahjong is worth protecting.
To help protect and preserve our cultural heritage, the Government can promote egg tarts by making a short film advertisement about egg tarts and the old Hong Kong and inviting famous people to star in the film. Also, the Government can offer subsidises to food trucks at the tourist spots which sell egg tarts. It can help promote egg tarts as our local cultural heritage to our visitors. As for mahjong, the Government can organize a “Mahjong Contest” in the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre where Hong Kong people can participate and play mahjong as contestants to win the championship. It aims to promote mahjong culture in our community.
I hope that, by doing so, our cultural heritage can be preserved in our community and passed on to the next generation as part of the history of Hong Kong.