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Hong Kong’s Bubble Waffle Is an Instagram Star The history behind ice cream’s new best friend Almost everyone who grew up in Hong Kong has a story to tell involving their younger selves and gai daan zai (“little eggs” in Cantonese), also known as bubble waffles, eggettes, egglets, egg puffs, or egg cakes. “I was born in Hong Kong, and one of my earlier childhood memories involved getting a rack of freshly made egg puffs from a street vendor in North Point [a district on the eastern part of Hong Kong island],” says Adele Wong, author of Hong Kong Food & Culture: From Dim Sum to Dried Abalone. “Every time I visited an elderly relative who lived around there, [they] would give me a $5 coin afterwards to buy a snack. I always knew what to spend that $5 on, and it was always the best decision.” In the states, Instagram has catapulted this dish, which looks like a waffle in bubble wrap form, to hyper-creative new heights. It’s often served as a waffle cone or a sundae, with ice cream and lashings of sauce. But it wasn’t always that way — for a how much does chiropractic adjustment cost long time, gai daan zai were served plain. Recipes vary, but they generally include eggs, flour, milk, and sugar, and sometimes baking powder or coconut milk. By and large, these were ingredients that didn’t become accessible to the mass market until the 1950s, when industrial food from the west began arriving on Hong Kong’s shores. In the beginning, these items were considered luxuries, which fits the oft-quoted story that gai daan zai were created as a way to up-cycle damaged eggs. Wong says, “one of the generally accepted origin stories of egg puffs was that grocery stores back in the ’50s put their cracked and damaged egg stock to good use by turning them into a delightful flour-based pastry snack. Eventually, the familiar egg-shaped mold was invented to give the snack a more presentable appearance.” A post shared by Copenhagen Social (@copenhagensocial) on “My understanding [is] there [were] several versions — I was told [this] by older folks — before it [became] the current shape,” says Caleb Ng, co-founder of restaurant consultancy Twins Kitchen, who has brought bubble waffles to Europe with their Copenhagen restaurant GAO, and events like Milan Design Week. The shape is quite unlike any other waffle out there, but when you look beyond the world of waffles, and into cakes and pancakes, the mold will start to look familiar — think poffertjes, the coin-sized Dutch pancakes, or, closer to home, bebi kasutera (baby castella), egg-shaped cakes that originate from the Portuguese pão de Castela (now more commonly known as pão de ló), a favorite at temple festivals in Japan. Castella is a speciality of Nagasaki, a port city in the southwest of Japan.

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