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纽约老牌豆腐店重返唐人街

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The Heir to a Tofu Dynasty Finally Learns to Make Tofu

让传统变得时髦起来:纽约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.

两年前,伍启芳(Paul Eng)决定正视一个他一生大部分时间都在面对的现实:他是一项豆腐传统的继承人,却不知道怎么做豆腐。

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。

伍启芳的祖父在1930年代来到华埠不久,就从其他移民那里学到了这门手艺。后来,他在勿街开了一家豆腐店,名叫“宏安”(Fong Inn Too),并开发了在华埠畅销80多年的菜谱。2017年,当伍启芳的父母关闭这家店时,那些从未被记录下来的菜谱也随之消失了。

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。"

伍启芳曾经试图重制这些配方,他问父母的一位前雇员,一种特定配方需要加多少小苏打。店员说:“一杯。”

"A cup, like eight ounces? Like a U。S。 standard cup measure?"

“一杯,八盎司?美国标准杯吗?”

"No," the man said, "a cup."

“不,”那人说,“一杯。”

"Like a coffee cup?"

“咖啡杯?”

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

“不,就是我们店里有个杯子。”

The cup, naturally, had been thrown out.

那个杯子,当然早就扔掉了。

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.

伍启芳的兄弟们一直住在华埠,帮着打理这家店,他却在很小的时候就离开了那里,去追求一条不同的道路:这条路将他带到莫斯科然后再回来,让他做了各种艺术工作,最后意外地进入手工豆腐的世界。

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。"

在宏安关门之前,它是纽约历史最悠久的家庭豆腐店,也是曼哈顿华埠仅有的两家仍在制作新鲜豆腐的店之一。对于许多华埠家庭来说,光顾豆腐店曾经是每周或每天的例行事务。“以前你会走到街上,在每家商店买一样东西,”伍启芳说。“你去蔬菜摊买蔬菜,去肉店买肉,还去宏安买新鲜豆腐。”

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。

美狮彩票在过去的几十年里,伍启芳的大部分家人都扎根华埠,参与经营这家店。伍启芳决定追求其他兴趣。1989年大学毕业后,他在中城一家吉他店工作,还是一支名叫“尿厂”(Piss Factory)的艺术/噪音乐队的成员。在2004年搬到莫斯科之前,他还做过平面设计师和美术指导,后来成了摄影师,并且组建了家庭。

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,伍启芳带着妻子和孩子搬回华埠。宏安关门时,他已经是两个孩子的父亲,正在追求稳定的生活。他决定试着恢复家族生意。

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。"

华埠可以直接在作坊购买新鲜豆腐的地方仅两家,宏安是其中之一,采用的是一千年来没有多少改变的工艺。但随着租金的上涨和人口结构的变化,豆腐工厂和豆腐店基本上已经消失——要么搬到新泽西和其他地区,要么干脆关门大吉。“很多华人已经离开,外国人搬进来,”显利街新兴隆豆腐店的经营者闫震伦(音)说。“我们的豆腐都是华人吃,外国人吃得不多。”

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.

不过,在这种烹饪传统似乎正在衰落的背景下,伍启芳看到了一个机会,既能恢复华埠的传统,又能让它适应年轻一代。新开张的店铺位于地威臣街,曾经是黄家最早的作坊之一,并且恢复了商店最早的名字: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。

宏安不仅以豆腐闻名,还制作豆浆、发糕、凉粉和其他十几种传统产品。伍启芳不知道该怎么做,而且也没有什么资料可以参考。“我们拆除了所有的旧设备,什么也没有写下来。”甚至连他的家人也想不起足够的细节来重现宏安的老特色。因此,伍启芳开始了一项探索,试图重现宏安的家传秘方。

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.

这意味着他要重新去认识华埠的一个他基本不了解的侧面——他的流水线生产设想,和这家店作风老派的历史之间存在巨大差距。即便找到了以前的店员,事实证明他们的老派工艺是不可能复制的。多年来,员工们根据店里的工具发展出了一套称量系统——这种配料需要用到某把长柄勺一勺的量,那种配料需要用到某只桶的一桶,一个已经丢掉的杯子,是专门用来量取发糕里的小苏打的。

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.

伍启芳想使用更新、更高效的机器,但遭到老员工的抵制。“我们看着这台漂亮的新机器,有个人直接不满地走了。他说:‘我不知道怎么用这台机器。我想用以前旧机器那样的东西。’”伍启芳决定,他必须以自己的方式重新设计食谱。

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.

美狮彩票他至少有一个起点:纵观历史,尽管确切的起源不明,但豆腐的制作过程基本没有改变。一个流行的说法是,一个叫刘安的汉朝贵族不小心在豆浆中混入了一种天然的凝固剂,于是意外发明了豆腐。在华埠,这种手艺通常是由已经站稳脚跟的移民传给新移民的。

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.

美狮彩票1966年出生于纽约的伍启芳属于不同的一代,所以他转向了YouTube。“有华人做的视频。我就看这些视频,并且试着把我从老店员那里听到的东西,和人们在这些视频里做的东西的相比较。”从那以后,经历了两年的试错——在一个操作台上用各种方法在豆浆中实现凝固效果,比较不同品牌的泡打粉的规格表,调试温度,直到做出老店全盛时期的口味。

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日宏安盛大开业几周后,店外有三个女人透过窗户向里张望,手指敲着玻璃。铺面还没有开灯,但潮湿的空气里已经能闻到一股浓郁的新鲜凉粉味,那是伍启芳和他的弟弟戴维(David)正在后面烹煮的东西。这时离开门营业还有一两个小时。

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。"

但女人们没有气馁,她们做着祈祷和恳求的手势,最终被允许进入。“我们来自这个社区,我们在这个社区长大,”60岁的特雷西·李(Tracy Lee)说。“这就像是在重温我们的童年。”

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谱,伍启芳也不认为能够完全依靠这家店的老顾客。“我的父母为和他们一样的人制作产品,他们都是年龄较大的移民,他们在寻找家乡的东西,”伍启芳解释说。“我现在的目标群体是年轻一代、千禧一代和非华人市场。”

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.

为迎合这类新顾客,店里一大部分现开辟成了某种豆腐布丁浇头吧,有甜咸不同的口味选择。伍启芳在重新把家族的老式豆腐布丁(豆腐花)打造成适合发Instagram的时髦甜品——似乎效果已经出来了。

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!"

不久前的一个下午,一对有文身的年轻情侣在宏安享用豆腐布丁,里面有芋圆、绿豆和仙草冻。他们之前在叫veganeatsnyc的Instagram账号上听说了这家店。这个有近5万名粉丝的账号发了一张宏安的照片,旁边写着“新鲜豆腐和豆浆?别再说了,带我走吧@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.

伍启芳招徕的对象有纯素者、嬉普士、美食达人,以及“任何愿以开放心态尝试不同文化新事物的人。”尚有待观察的,是这家店能否在吸引年轻群体的同时,依然服务老客户。伍启芳知道,在华埠这样价格微调会是重大打击的地方,做到这一点可能很难。“我不想因为一块豆腐,给社区带来价格冲击,”他说。“但同时,我们靠着以前的价格也是无法维持的——之前就没能维持。”在当地菜市场,一块工厂制作的真空封装豆腐售价为1美元至1.5美元。在宏安豆腐店,一块新鲜豆腐卖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。"

自重新开张以来,已有几名说粤语的路人驻足打听价格。听完之后,许多人什么也没买,转身离开挤满了说英语的年轻顾客的店铺。但也有几名老街坊很高兴又能买到新鲜手作的米和黄豆食品。“我以前很喜欢,所以很高兴看到它们又回来了,”83岁的埃丝特·顾(Esther Ku)说。“盒装豆腐很方便。但你要真喜欢豆腐,就得买新鲜的。”

来源:纽约时报

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