Traditionality and hybridity: A village cuisine in metropolitan Hong Kong

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2 Citations (Scopus)


This article examines the development and transformation of a village cuisine, called poonchoi, in contemporary Hong Kong. It aims at revealing the values, meanings and practices of a cosmopolitan lifestyle in modern or contemporary late-capitalist society in Hong Kong, and examines how they are explicitly manifested in and shaped by omnipresent advertising in a consumer society. Poonchoi is a traditional dish of the indigenous villagers in rural Hong Kong, made for celebrating major festivals and ceremonial events. Its ingredients are local, inexpensive and ordinary. Culturally and geographically this rural, ethnic and exotic cuisine has been defined by Hong Kong urbanites as something marginal in their social life and eating culture. But after the 1980s it gained a great deal of popularity due to changing social and economic conditions in Hong Kong. Nowadays through a process of pervasive marketing and an intensive commodification this village cuisine has become a fashionable food and part of the social life of the people of Hong Kong. Various commercial or hybrid versions of poonchoi, which contain a spectrum of international and expensive foods with an undiscriminating combination of traditional ingredients, have been introduced and marketed by the catering industry. They cater to the different needs and tastes of customers who relish conspicuous consumption or are obsessed with tasting exotic, trendy and luxury foods. These consumption practices represent and constitute a cosmopolitan lifestyle for the people of Hong Kong.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-188
Number of pages18
JournalVisual Anthropology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2011

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology


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