Monday, May 03, 2010

Toi Shan Dishes Anyone?

I am Cantonese of Toi Shan origin. We speak a dialect that's similar to Cantonese but it's not really Cantonese. I suppose you could say it is an offshoot of Cantonese, perhaps even a deeply skewed version.

Not many people speak Toi Shan dialect these days. The ones who do speak it are as old as mountains. Most are in their 60s and 70s.

I call it a Dinosaur Dialect as it seems that old to me. The younger Toi Shan generation either do not bother to learn it or find it hard to speak (after all, you can't practice if you have no one to speak it with!). Or maybe it just sounds funny to the ears and Cantonese sounds much better. I've promised myself that if I have kids, I will teach them this language.

I speak Toi Shan because my Dad is Toi Shan. I speak it with him and my second sis. With my youngest sis, I revert to Cantonese. With mum, I speak Cantonese as she's Cantonese through and through.

One of the best memories of being of a small, select dialect group is we get to bitch about others without them knowing it. It's a bit like speaking Foo Chow dialect. The Foo Chows are also talking in a lingo only a fellow Foo Chow can understand. And so it is with Toi Shan.

But a Toi Shan uncle I met in Hong Kong told me this - many Toi Shan are wealthy particularly if they are living overseas (such as USA). They were the first people to go in search of gold!

I should have gone looking for gold in San Francisco, hah!

Anyway, this little post will come in many parts as I am reminiscing about the dishes my Grandma cooked for us. She was Toi Shan and her dishes are particularly appealing now that I am all grown up!

Come back for more...
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