When I was growing up, we ate several dishes that I thought were really unusual and unique to my mother. Macaroni soup was one of them. Small pasta shapes swimming in chicken or veggie broth, flavored with shiitake mushrooms, peas, carrots and ham. Sometimes Spam was also in that bowl. To me, this didn’t feel like a distinctly Chinese dish, so I assumed it was just something my mum made when she was short on time. I continued to think it was a family recipe until a very recent trip to Hong Kong, where I saw it on the breakfast menu at McDonald’s and practically every other cafe and cha chaan teng menu. I was shocked. Only then did I realize it was actually known as “Hong Kong–style breakfast”; it dawned on me that I still had much to learn about my family culture.
At a cafe close to my hotel in Hong Kong, I ordered a variation of this dish—tomato soup brimming with macaroni pasta, topped with scrambled egg. My love for this dish was instant, inspiring a childlike wonder for a bowl full of textures and childhood memories, just with a little twist.