Josephine Smart

(Anthropology, University of Calgary):

I am a newcomer in the Mintz social circle. I only met Sid in person in 1999 when we were both visiting professors in the Dept of Anthropology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). I read Sid's work and knew of him since I was a graduate student at the University of Toronto in the early 1980s. His reputation and stature in the discipline had created certain images in my mind that was mostly debunked after our face to face encounter in Hong Kong. As expected, Sid is a scholar of the highest calibre whose thirst for knowledge and strive for excellence is an example for us all. At the age of 77, he began a series of lessons in Cantonese during his 5-month visiting professorship in Hong Kong.

Never mind that his pronunciation is barely acceptable, the willingness to tackle Cantonese at his age is indicative of a strong personality and a healthy sense of venture seeking. He maintained an active research agenda among which was his soy project, a link that ultimately landed him a site visit to a tofu factory near the CUHK campus. I went along as an observer and witnessed Sid partaking a sample of brine (highly concentrated salt water) that was used in the tofu manufacturing process. It was nasty stuff, he did it out of a strong sense of what field work should entail. Unlike my imagined notion of him as an established senior scholar who lords over the rest of us, Sid is surprisingly down to earth and easy to get along with. He is also very funny. My visit at CUHK was enriched in more than one way by Sid's presence. We became "drinking" buddies because we share a fondness for wine and good scotch that our fellow colleagues at CUHK do not observe.

We shared many lunches at the staff restaurant in New Asia College at CUHK, his fondness for wotauyu (mallet) was well known to the waiting staff. I became his "cultural expert" on the strength of my cultural background as a Chinese born and raised in Hong Kong. He became my "cultural expert" on the history of Anthropology in North America and the anthropology of food. It is a real privilege to know Sid and be counted as his friend.

This recipe is selected after my discovery that Sid and his wife Jackie are both fond of rice congee. Furthermore, Jackie shares my fondness for peidan (thousand year old eggs) which is one of the ingredients in this recipe. I hope they'll enjoy this.

Salted Pork Congee with Thousand Year Old Eggs


1-2 lbs pork bones, heavily salted and kept overnight in the fridge
1 cup of rice (short or long grain)
8-10 cups of water
2-3 oz. fresh gingko nuts (vacuum pack) or dried gingko nuts
3 thousand year old eggs, shelled and diced (may use more if desired)
green onions or chives, chopped
coriander (optional), chopped


1. Prepare pork bones as suggested above one day ahead.
2. Wash and rinse rice twice, then soak in cold water for 10-20 minutes before use.
3. Put 8-10 cups of cold water into a deep pot, add pork bones (no need to rinse) and gingko nuts. Bring to a boil.
4. Add rice. Allow the mixture to come to a boil, then turn down the heat to simmer for 2-3 hours.
  If a thinner congee is desired, add more water at the end.
5. Retrieve all the pork bones; discard the bones, keep the meat and add to the congee if desired.
6. Season with salt and white pepper according to taste.
7. Bring to boil again, add diced egg, green onion, and coriander and serve.

Note: I usually make a big pot and dish out the congee into individual containers for freezing. They keep extremely well. It is perfect food on a bad weather day. It is also the perfect food when one's system is down with a cold or flu or hangover. The ingredients in the congee can vary according to one's preference. You may substitute the salted pork bones with dried scallops, chicken or beef. If you like fish in the congee, it is best to slice the fish fillet into thin pieces, add to the congee after it reaches a bubbly boil and serve right away. The fish slices are fully cooked without any loss in flavour or texture. Enjoy!