Thursday, June 14, 2007

Argyle-- the other chinatown

No trip to Roger's Park would be complete without a stop at Chiu Quon bakery, a simple shop on Argyle that we've been visiting as long as I can remember... with some of the same women behind the counter for as long as I can remember!

Argyle isn't really another chinatown anymore, it's more like a little south pacific. A little pan-Asian archepelago of pho shops and groceries and gift shops. But I remember when it was mostly Cantonese (the Chinese provence where Hong Kong is and from where my mom's parents came).

I used to think all Chinese bakeries were like Chiu Quon, but with time and travel, I've learned it's unique. Most Asian bakeries these days individually wrap their buns and pasteries in stiff plastic bags-- so you can't be entirely sure of their freshness or fragrance. Chiu Quon still houses trays of fresh goods behind a curved glass case. Several trays overflow to the top of the counter, uncovered-- sometimes still cooling.

In Taiwan there's really a rich variety of bun fillings-- taro, pumpkin, pork floss to name a few. The offerings were dynamic, morphing with the trends. But not Chiu Quon. They have had the same things for as long as I can remember. And it's comforting somehow. Mom and I filled a white box with 2 ham and egg buns for Mom, a winter melon cake for Joe, a coconut bun and a paper-wrapped sponge cake for me and a pineapple turnover for Dad.

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