Last Friday’s film show about Mr Mok, the local ‘tofu guy’, was a splendid evening, far exceeding my expectations. Mr Mok – Mok Kau Moon – was gracious enough to turn up with his wife and some family and friends, and it was great to see the film-makers there as well – Au Hoi Yan and Yuen Fun, collectively known as VideoPower. The film had interviews with Mr Mok, now 78, at his home making his tofu products; on his farm tending to his soya and taro; and in the street selling his wares. His home was a corrugated-iron construction under the shade of a majestic banyan tree. There was some terrific photography showing the area in a good light, with shots of the stream running low in summer juxtaposed with the same spot during the raging torrents of June 2007(?).
Mr Mok’s lifestory is fascinating. He walked for seven days – and swam for ten minutes! – to get out of China and into HK 50 years ago. Nobody asked, but I guess it was to escape the Great Famine of the late fifties. He’s done a number of different jobs, ranging from coolie to a Shanghai boss who sacked him for not giving him one of the chickens he was raising, to running a bike-renting business, until he settled for what he does now – making a variety of tofu treats which he sells on the street leading from Rural Committee Road to Tai Tei Tong.
The film was also quite unexpectedly funny. There were hilarious misunderstandings as Fun and Yan tried to cope with his Dongguanese dialect, and a gem of a moment when a local farmer complained that he and Mr Mok had never got on since the day Mr Mok had called him ‘a Dongguan sausage’.
Fortunately, extra copies are being made of the DVD and will be available eventually from Mr Mok himself. He sets his stall up on the road to Tai Tei Tong every afternoon, and I’ve been assured that what he sells is truly delicious. His tofu jelly with ginger syrup sounds particularly enticing. If you’re interested in going one step further and seeing the whole process of making tofu, he said he’s willing to show small groups of three or four, but that’s about as many as he can get into his home. If you’re interested, let me know and I’ll arrange it through Mabel.
Unfortunately, Mr Mok will be heading back to his house in Tsuen Wan eventually, and Mui Wo will have lost a treasure. One can only hope that he will pass on his skills to someone else before he goes.
I would love to see more films like this made, partly to celebrate local people and their skills, but also to capture a piece of local history and, if possible, ensure that useful skills do not disappear as more and more people take to eating out of a styrofoam box. I think Mabel’s Organic Roselle Farm and Jenny’s Ark Eden would be ideal for DVD treatment, and there were some clips in Friday’s film of old local farmers chatting about the best time to plant choi sum which would make a great subject for an interview, along with other local farming tips, if we could get a Cantonese speaker to do it for us.
In the meantime, get yourself down to Rural Committee Road and sample some of Mr Mok’s tofu treats.