13 June 2013

...Or Eating In - Part 2 還是屋企煮-下卷

In many parts of the world, dinner parties are a time honored tradition. Self-respecting men and women open up their homes to regale friends with home-cooked food and stimulating conversation. The cultural significance of these gatherings is evidenced by the prominent role they play in literature and films. In Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf devotes an entire book to describing a house party. In the 1967 classic Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, the taboo subject of interracial marriage is dealt with at one of Hollywood’s most memorable suppers.

A time-honored tradition

Dinner parties are also a source of endless intrigue. They provide the perfect setting for a “whodunit” murder mystery, as they do in Agatha Christie’s Thirteen at Dinner, Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope and more recently in Gosford Park. The tradition has even made it to the list of most frequently asked questions at job interviews...


Read the rest of this article in No City for Slow Men, published by Blacksmith Books, available at major bookstores in in Hong Kong and at Blacksmith Books.


  1. Dear Jason,

    I truly enjoyed your piece on dinner party. I have to agree with you on how HK people do not have many home dinner parties at all.

    From my experience living in Japan, the Japanese have more home dinner parties than people in HK. It's not to say the Japanese have dinner parties often, but they usually have a party for big annual events such as birthdays, Christmas, and year-end party.

    Please keep up the great work that you do.

    Yours sincerely,

  2. Thanks for sharing your experience in Japan!


  3. Very well written, Jason!


  4. Interesting topic to write about.


  5. Hilarious, especially the paragraph about reluctant host and guests. Having no space is the first factor for cities, you've captured the distinctive concepts of what a dinner party is for Asians and Westerners. And when there's a clash....loved reading this one.


  6. I enjoy hosting dinner parties...we have our 'cultural nights' with people from my university...it is always great to see people from different nationalities bond over food :)

  7. LOVE dinner parties. Come to Sweden or Urbana and you'll get treated well.


  8. Hi Jason,

    Thank you for the well written piece. I have yet to be invited to home parties in Hong Kong. I guess most locals view their home as their sanctuary. Besides as the houses in Hong Kong is generally smaller i could understand the desire to keep it as private as possible.

    What do you think about that


  9. Dear Jason, thank you again for this great piece. I spent some time in Europe about 1/2 year ago. Home dinner parties I had during that short period of time probably out-numbered those I had for the past 5 years! Food served in most of these parties was simple. But I enjoyed every one of them as I had spent quality time with great company. I looked forward to every one of them as I felt very strongly that my friends were all trying to keep me (the 'foreigner') accompanied.

    Hubby and I tried to replicate that since we were back to HK. Though we had only organised one for the past 3 months, friends who came did show great appreciation as they felt they were welcome and accepted into the local community.

    Time to brush up cooking skills!


  10. Hi Jason -

    A great read. I'm happy I checked out your blog - thanks for letting me know during our lunch the other day.

    Having just arrived in HK from New Jersey where we basically entertained guests on a biweekly basis, my wife and I are now wondering how we can do house parties here with a kitchen that looks abysmally small to us. Oh well, we are at least well prepared in terms of cooking skills and tools - we even brought a molcajete with us!


  11. Thanks, Joon. And welcome (back) to Hong Kong! Check back often for new articles!


  12. I am coming !!!

    I am, and will, certainly be a happy guest to dinner parties (as long as they are not work-related ones) and will be happy to host one if I had the time. Gotta mind my “Ps” and “Qs” though.

    As for the “joy” of cooking, that has long since eluded me after I returned to Hong Kong. Mostly due to the time/energy constraints (as my cousin said, we are practically too tired to peel an orange already after work, let alone do a proper steak) and the space constraints in Hong Kong too. When I think of the dishes I used to make (simple as they were I would think of ways to make it taste and look better) I wonder when I can muster the energy to do it again. Oh, will my turkey fit into my small oven? Can my fridge house all my veggies and fruits to make a delectable salad? I suppose if someone give me a turnip or salmon fillet, I will be able to think of what to do with it or how I would like to prepare it, but there is no guarantee that I will be able to make a sumptuous feast of it.

    I certainly know nothing about American football, but I guess I can think of something else to say with other topics. My friend was so surprised the other day that I can actually chat with him about 雙截棍 (and also ballroom dancing) … anyway. BTW, how come you don’t host a dinner party for your fans and / or friends from your blogs?! I’ll certainly join with joy.

    I rarely watch TV and TV program on dinner occasions are always a distraction, people’s conversation gyrate around the soap operas on the screen then. I never watch TC at home anymore except for the Cable News or Bloomberg or Phoenix TV over breakfast. My helper at home know the stories in the soap operas better than I do and can actually recount the relationships and problems of the protagonists to me sometimes on getting home, I wonder how she does that.

    I remember I used to have huge crowds over to my place in Sydney though they are not proper dinner parties. We all brought a dish or bottle and helped cooked and washed up in the kitchen (rather I am always the one doing the washing up whether it was held at my place or my friend’s place), or, on occasions, have people over to work on or copy University assignments together. And I have to ensure there was ample supply of drinks and snacks and whatever else to keep them entertained both during and after the assignments-copying… Those were the days. Wonder when I’ll ever re-capture that in Hong Kong


  13. I love dinner parties a lot, you have discussed about an interesting topic.

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