A few weeks ago, I posted some teeny pies with a dollop of vague, cryptic dazed-happy-whirlwind news on the side. The news was … as some of you dear friends guessed … that we’re engaged! The Two Red Bowls are getting married!
(Also, yes, I got him a ring too. The party line is that it’s egalitarian and modern, but really, I was just impatient and love buying shiny presents.)
I really wanted to think of a food for this post that meant something to B2 and me. And ideally something that would go in the two red bowls that started this whole blog off. Then, after Mandy posted these incredible pineapple buns, it came to me — BBQ pork pineapple buns, as inspired by Tim Ho Wan. And now I will tell you a long and hopefully not boring story about us, our bowls, and where these buns fit in. You can go to sleep and wake up at the end for the recipe, I won’t mind.
Bowl #2 says his first impression of me was in one of our first classes in law school. Some of our professors have a lovely tradition of “cold-calling,” or calling on students at random to answer questions instead of asking for volunteers. Some people handle this process with grace and dignity. Others, like me, black out in terror and lose their handle on the English language. So Bowl #2’s recollection was something like this: “Oh, yeah, I noticed you really early. You were that girl who got cold-called first that day. And I remember thinking, boy, she looks scared sh*tless.” The first time he told me this, I fluffed up like a vain little bird in anticipation of what he’d say and then deflated somewhat suddenly.
That actually has nothing to do with Tim Ho Wan, I just think it’s funny. We were friends for most of law school, and didn’t begin dating until just before the beginning of our third year — or, right before a semester where I’d be studying abroad in Hong Kong. (Impeccable timing.) Long-distance relationships are always crazy fun (sarcasm) but never more fun than when they start that way, so it was a little bit of an uncertain time for us, with a few ups and downs.
Bowl #2 came to visit me about halfway through the semester. We did a whole lot of eating, but for only being in Hong Kong two weeks, I took him to Tim Ho Wan an embarrassing number of times, always for these baked buns. They’re the love child of two of Hong Kong’s best treasures — their famous pineapple buns, sweet and pillow-soft rolls with a crisp, sugary crust baked on top, and their char siu baked buns, rolls with juicy, sweet and savory caramelized roasted pork chopped up and tucked inside. We had an inappropriate number of these — and at a time where things were falling into place, and where what we were was becoming clearer and steadier and more and more wonderful. So I think they’ve come to represent a time that was truly special to us.