During my vacation to Hong Kong last week, I made a day trip with my wife to nearby Macau. As we walked past Senado Square, I saw this very old man slaving away over his charcoal-fired oven in his dark side-alley shopfront. He was painstakingly making egg rolls, dropping 5 small balls of egg batter each time in each cast iron griddle. When they were done, he’d pop the piping-hot pastry out and drop them into a metal tray.
The smell was heavenly, and we bought a pound of these simple egg pastries for 10 Macau dollars. Some shops down the row, there was the far more famous Pastelaria Koi Kei, which has grown to a chain of stores all over Macau (and swarmed by tourists). They sold the same egg rolls, in multiple flavours, in fantastic packaging.
I couldn’t help but think what would happen when the old man passed on. In all likelihood, his craft and his skill will go with him. I wonder if he ever regretted not expanding like his competitors?
I don’t have the answer, but I mourn the day when we lose all these skilled craftsmen when we move with the times.