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This review is taken from PN Review 264, Volume 48 Number 4, March - April 2022.

Cover of sikfan glaschu
Wendelin Wai C. LawOde to the Meanings and Joy of 'Sikfan'
Sean Wai Keung’s sikfan glaschu (Verve) £9.99
There is simply no other Cantonese phrase more homely and profound than ‘sikfan’. When translated literally, it means ‘to have rice’. However, it is also used broadly to denote the act of having a meal. It has a third meaning, which is explained succinctly by Wai Keung in the title poem, while he conjures a palpable ambience associated with the phrase:
then sat by the window thinking about being a 
    kid again […]
hearing that familiar evening shout of sikfan
your food is ready […]
                       dont you miss that
the eagerness/ the hunger/ the sense of mystery
the not knowing exactly what would be waiting on the table
but knowing exactly that whatever it was
it would be delicious
This warm and almost magical scene of ‘sikfan’ doesn’t exist only in the Cantonese-speaking sphere. The collective childhood memory of food and commensality – the act of eating together, are universal and touch all readers. As Wai Keung continues to record his gastropoetic ventures, which are spanning across Glasgow’s restaurants and cafés of diverse cultures and heritage, he showcases how food and eating are domestic, as well as communal and political. The poems are reminiscent of an ancient Chinese saying, ‘民以食為天’, meaning ‘food is the God of the people’: that the people places food before everything else. As apparent as it seems, eating and living are inseparable. It is personal – ‘suddenly a memory is evoked / of pizza eaten on the other side of the world’ (‘byblos cafe’); as ...

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