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讓傳統變得時髦起來:紐約老牌豆腐店重返唐人街

更新時間:2019/9/9 20:14:48 來源:紐約時報中文網 作者:佚名

The Heir to a Tofu Dynasty Finally Learns to Make Tofu
讓傳統變得時髦起來:紐約老牌豆腐店重返唐人街

Two years ago, Paul Eng decided to confront a reality he had been facing most of his life: He was the heir to a tofu tradition who had no idea how to make tofu.

兩年前,伍啟芳(Paul Eng)決定正視一個他一生大部分時間都在面對的現實:他是一項豆腐傳統的繼承人,卻不知道怎么做豆腐。

Mr. Eng’s grandfather learned the trade in the 1930s from fellow immigrants shortly after he arrived in Chinatown. He went on to open up a small tofu shop on Mott Street, called Fong Inn Too, and developed recipes that would become well loved in Chinatown for more than eighty years. When Mr. Eng’s parents closed the shop in 2017, the recipes, never written down, disappeared with it.

伍啟芳的祖父在1930年代來到華埠不久,就從其他移民那里學到了這門手藝。后來,他在勿街開了一家豆腐店,名叫“宏安”(Fong Inn Too),并開發了在華埠暢銷80多年的菜譜。2017年,當伍啟芳的父母關閉這家店時,那些從未被記錄下來的菜譜也隨之消失了。

At one point, while trying to recreate those recipes, Mr. Eng asked one of his parents’ former employees how much baking soda a particular recipe called for. He said, “A cup.”

伍啟芳曾經試圖重制這些配方,他問父母的一位前雇員,一種特定配方需要加多少小蘇打。店員說:“一杯。”

“A cup, like eight ounces? Like a U.S. standard cup measure?”

“一杯,八盎司?美國標準杯嗎?”

“No,” the man said, “a cup.”

“不,”那人說,“一杯。”

“Like a coffee cup?”

“咖啡杯?”

“No, this one cup that we had at the shop.”

“不,就是我們店里有個杯子。”

The cup, naturally, had been thrown out.

那個杯子,當然早就扔掉了。

Unlike his brothers, who stayed in Chinatown and helped with the shop, Mr. Eng left the neighborhood at a young age to pursue a different path: One that would take him to Moscow and back and through various artistic endeavors, before he unexpectedly landed in the world of artisanal tofu.

伍啟芳的兄弟們一直住在華埠,幫著打理這家店,他卻在很小的時候就離開了那里,去追求一條不同的道路:這條路將他帶到莫斯科然后再回來,讓他做了各種藝術工作,最后意外地進入手工豆腐的世界。

Before Fong Inn Too closed, it was the oldest family-owned tofu shop in New York, and one of only two still making fresh tofu in Manhattan’s Chinatown. For many Chinatown families, a visit to the tofu shop used to be part of a weekly or daily routine. “In the old days, you would go down the street and pick one thing up at each store,” Mr. Eng said. “You would go to the veggie stand to get your veggies, the meat shop to get your meat, and Fong Inn Too to get your fresh tofu.”

在宏安關門之前,它是紐約歷史最悠久的家庭豆腐店,也是曼哈頓華埠僅有的兩家仍在制作新鮮豆腐的店之一。對于許多華埠家庭來說,光顧豆腐店曾經是每周或每天的例行事務。“以前你會走到街上,在每家商店買一樣東西,”伍啟芳說。“你去蔬菜攤買蔬菜,去肉店買肉,還去宏安買新鮮豆腐。”

Over the decades, most of Mr. Eng’s family stayed rooted in Chinatown and involved with running the shop. Mr. Eng decided to pursue other interests. After finishing college in 1989, he worked at a guitar shop in Midtown while playing in an art/noise band called Piss Factory. He also worked as a graphic designer and art director before he moved to Moscow in 2004, became a photographer and started a family.

在過去的幾十年里,伍啟芳的大部分家人都扎根華埠,參與經營這家店。伍啟芳決定追求其他興趣。1989年大學畢業后,他在中城一家吉他店工作,還是一支名叫“尿廠”(Piss Factory)的藝術/噪音樂隊的成員。在2004年搬到莫斯科之前,他還做過平面設計師和美術指導,后來成了攝影師,并且組建了家庭。

In 2013, Mr. Eng moved back to Chinatown with his wife and child. By the time Fong Inn Too closed, he was a father of two and looking for stability. He decided to try his hand at bringing back the family business.

2013年,伍啟芳帶著妻子和孩子搬回華埠。宏安關門時,他已經是兩個孩子的父親,正在追求穩定的生活。他決定試著恢復家族生意。

Fong Inn Too had been one of the last two places in Chinatown where you could buy freshly made tofu right from the factory, made much the same way as it had been for over a thousand years. But as rents have increased and demographics have changed, tofu factories and shops have largely disappeared — either moving to New Jersey and other boroughs, or shuttering altogether. “Many Chinese people have left, and foreigners have moved in,” said Yan Zhen Lun, who runs Sun Hing Lung tofu factory on Henry Street. “Chinese people eat our tofu, foreigners eat it less.”

華埠可以直接在作坊購買新鮮豆腐的地方僅兩家,宏安是其中之一,采用的是一千年來沒有多少改變的工藝。但隨著租金的上漲和人口結構的變化,豆腐工廠和豆腐店基本上已經消失——要么搬到新澤西和其他地區,要么干脆關門大吉。“很多華人已經離開,外國人搬進來,”顯利街新興隆豆腐店的經營者閆震倫(音)說。“我們的豆腐都是華人吃,外國人吃得不多。”

But amid this seeming decline in a culinary tradition, Mr. Eng saw an opportunity to restore a Chinatown institution while adapting it for a younger generation. The new realization of the shop is operating in one of the family’s original manufacturing spaces on Division Street and under the shop’s original name, Fong On.

不過,在這種烹飪傳統似乎正在衰落的背景下,伍啟芳看到了一個機會,既能恢復華埠的傳統,又能讓它適應年輕一代。新開張的店鋪位于地威臣街,曾經是黃家最早的作坊之一,并且恢復了商店最早的名字:宏安(Fong On)。

Fong On was known not only for its tofu but also for soy milk, rice cakes, grass jelly and a dozen other traditional products. Mr. Eng didn’t know how to make any of them, and he had almost nothing to work with. “We had dismantled all the old equipment and nothing was written down.” Not even his family members could recall enough detail to recreate their old specialties. So Mr. Eng set off on a quest to try and recreate the shop’s age-old family recipes.

宏安不僅以豆腐聞名,還制作豆漿、發糕、涼粉和其他十幾種傳統產品。伍啟芳不知道該怎么做,而且也沒有什么資料可以參考。“我們拆除了所有的舊設備,什么也沒有寫下來。”甚至連他的家人也想不起足夠的細節來重現宏安的老特色。因此,伍啟芳開始了一項探索,試圖重現宏安的家傳秘方。

This meant stepping back into a side of Chinatown that he had largely been absent from — and there was a big gulf between his streamlined vision for the shop’s future and the old-school realities of the shop’s past. Even when Mr. Eng tracked down the shop’s former employees, translating their old methods proved impossible. Over the years, the employees had developed a system of measurements based on the tools around the shop — a particular ladle filled with this ingredient, a particular bucket filled with another, the lost cup that measured the baking soda for the rice cakes.

這意味著他要重新去認識華埠的一個他基本不了解的側面——他的流水線生產設想,和這家店作風老派的歷史之間存在巨大差距。即便找到了以前的店員,事實證明他們的老派工藝是不可能復制的。多年來,員工們根據店里的工具發展出了一套稱量系統——這種配料需要用到某把長柄勺一勺的量,那種配料需要用到某只桶的一桶,一個已經丟掉的杯子,是專門用來量取發糕里的小蘇打的。

Mr. Eng wanted to use newer, more efficient machinery, but the old employees balked. “One guy just left in frustration when we were looking at this nice, new machine. He was like: ‘I don’t know how to use that machine. I want to use one like our old machine.’” Mr. Eng decided he would have to rebuild the recipes in his own way.

伍啟芳想使用更新、更高效的機器,但遭到老員工的抵制。“我們看著這臺漂亮的新機器,有個人直接不滿地走了。他說:‘我不知道怎么用這臺機器。我想用以前舊機器那樣的東西。’”伍啟芳決定,他必須以自己的方式重新設計食譜。

He did at least have a starting point: The process of making tofu has remained largely unchanged throughout history, even though the exact origin of tofu is unknown. A popular theory says that Liu An, a Chinese nobleman during the Han dynasty, accidentally invented it when soy milk somehow mixed with a natural coagulant. In Chinatown, the craft was often passed from more established immigrants to those more newly arrived.

他至少有一個起點:縱觀歷史,盡管確切的起源不明,但豆腐的制作過程基本沒有改變。一個流行的說法是,一個叫劉安的漢朝貴族不小心在豆漿中混入了一種天然的凝固劑,于是意外發明了豆腐。在華埠,這種手藝通常是由已經站穩腳跟的移民傳給新移民的。

Born in New York in 1966, Mr. Eng was part of a different generation — so he turned to YouTube. “There were Chinese videos. I would watch and try to match what I heard from our former employees to what people were doing in these videos.” From there, it has been two years of trial and error — hunched over a counter trying different concentrations of soybean solids in his soy milk, comparing spec sheets on various brands of baking powder, fine-tuning temperatures and timings until things tasted like they used to in the glory days of the shop.

1966年出生于紐約的伍啟芳屬于不同的一代,所以他轉向了YouTube。“有華人做的視頻。我就看這些視頻,并且試著把我從老店員那里聽到的東西,和人們在這些視頻里做的東西的相比較。”從那以后,經歷了兩年的試錯——在一個操作臺上用各種方法在豆漿中實現凝固效果,比較不同品牌的泡打粉的規格表,調試溫度,直到做出老店全盛時期的口味。

A couple weeks after Fong On’s grand reopening on Aug. 17, three women huddled outside the shop peering through the window and tapping on the glass. The lights were still off in the retail space, but the air was already humid and smelling strongly of the fresh herbal jelly (leung fan) that Mr. Eng and his brother David were boiling in the back. It was still an hour or two before the store would open.

在8月17日宏安盛大開業幾周后,店外有三個女人透過窗戶向里張望,手指敲著玻璃。鋪面還沒有開燈,但潮濕的空氣里已經能聞到一股濃郁的新鮮涼粉味,那是伍啟芳和他的弟弟戴維(David)正在后面烹煮的東西。這時離開門營業還有一兩個小時。

But the women could not be deterred. Making small hand signs of prayer and pleading, they were eventually let in. “We’re from the neighborhood, we grew up in the neighborhood,” said Tracy Lee, 60, who was there to buy rice cakes (bak tong gou). “This is like reliving our childhood.”

但女人們沒有氣餒,她們做著祈禱和懇求的手勢,最終被允許進入。“我們來自這個社區,我們在這個社區長大,”60歲的特雷西·李(Tracy Lee)說。“這就像是在重溫我們的童年。”

Even with his recreated family recipes in hand, Mr. Eng doesn’t think he can rely solely on the shop’s old customers. “My parents made products for people like themselves — older immigrants who were looking for the kinds of things they had back home,” Mr. Eng explained. “My demographic now is the younger generation, the millennials, the non-Chinese market.”

即使有了重制的家庭菜譜,伍啟芳也不認為能夠完全依靠這家店的老顧客。“我的父母為和他們一樣的人制作產品,他們都是年齡較大的移民,他們在尋找家鄉的東西,”伍啟芳解釋說。“我現在的目標群體是年輕一代、千禧一代和非華人市場。”

As a nod to this new kind of customer, a large part of the shop is now dedicated to a kind of tofu pudding topping bar, with sweet and savory options. Mr. Eng is refashioning his family’s old-school tofu pudding (doufu fa) as a trendy, Instagrammable dessert — and it seems to be working.

為迎合這類新顧客,店里一大部分現開辟成了某種豆腐布丁澆頭吧,有甜咸不同的口味選擇。伍啟芳在重新把家族的老式豆腐布丁(豆腐花)打造成適合發Instagram的時髦甜品——似乎效果已經出來了。

On a recent afternoon at Fong On, a young, tattooed couple were enjoying tofu pudding with taro balls, mung beans and grass jelly. They had heard about the shop on an Instagram account called veganeatsnyc. The account, which has almost 50,000 followers, posted a photo of Fong On with the caption “FRESH TOFU AND SOYMILK? Say no more and take me away @fongon1933!”

不久前的一個下午,一對有文身的年輕情侶在宏安享用豆腐布丁,里面有芋圓、綠豆和仙草凍。他們之前在叫veganeatsnyc的Instagram賬號上聽說了這家店。這個有近5萬名粉絲的賬號發了一張宏安的照片,旁邊寫著“新鮮豆腐和豆漿?別再說了,帶我走吧@fongon1933!”

Mr. Eng is marketing to vegans, to hipsters, to foodies, “to anyone who has an open mind to try new things from different cultures.” What remains to be seen is if the shop can bring in this younger crowd while still serving its original customers. Mr. Eng knows that this can be hard in a place like Chinatown, where small price changes can hit hard. “I don’t want to sticker shock the community on a block of tofu,” he said. “But also, we can’t sustain — we didn’t sustain — at the price we used to sell at.” In local markets, a brick of factory-made, vacuum-sealed tofu costs $1 to $1.50. At Mr. Eng’s shop, a brick of the fresh stuff goes for $2.

伍啟芳招徠的對象有純素者、嬉普士、美食達人,以及“任何愿以開放心態嘗試不同文化新事物的人。”尚有待觀察的,是這家店能否在吸引年輕群體的同時,依然服務老客戶。伍啟芳知道,在華埠這樣價格微調會是重大打擊的地方,做到這一點可能很難。“我不想因為一塊豆腐,給社區帶來價格沖擊,”他說。“但同時,我們靠著以前的價格也是無法維持的——之前就沒能維持。”在當地菜市場,一塊工廠制作的真空封裝豆腐售價為1美元至1.5美元。在宏安豆腐店,一塊新鮮豆腐賣2美元。

Since the reopening, several older Cantonese-speaking passers-by have stopped in to inquire about prices. After hearing, many squeeze back toward the door — past younger, English-speaking customers — without buying anything. But there are several longtime residents that are happy to have a source for fresh, handmade rice and soy foods again. “I used to love it, and I am happy they are back,” said Esther Ku, 83. “The tofu in a box is convenient. But if you really like good tofu, you have to get it fresh.”

自重新開張以來,已有幾名說粵語的路人駐足打聽價格。聽完之后,許多人什么也沒買,轉身離開擠滿了說英語的年輕顧客的店鋪。但也有幾名老街坊很高興又能買到新鮮手作的米和黃豆食品。“我以前很喜歡,所以很高興看到它們又回來了,”83歲的埃絲特·顧(Esther Ku)說。“盒裝豆腐很方便。但你要真喜歡豆腐,就得買新鮮的。”

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