The Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat dinner was incredible… and beyond expectations!
Todd steered for DieselFish, who came all the way from San Francisco Bay area
was the Saturday night of the 12th annual Victoria Dragon Boat
Festival. Gung Haggis team paddlers had joined up with the
Pirates dragon boat team. And GHFC coach Todd Wong, was steering
for the San Francisco team named DieselFish. Todd organized
a joint team dinner, and also invited the Cultus Lake Dragonfliers who
had been so nice to the GHFC team at the Cultus Lake Women’s Regatta.
dinner was held at Golden City Restaurant near Victoria’s historic
Chinatown, on Fisgard St. We had 6 tables of 10, + an extra table
of 6 Pirate paddlers, with another party of 6 Wasabi Warriors observing
from the side.
Toddish McWong “rocking” out on his accordion for “Scotland the Brave” – photo Daniel
Attending teams were:
The Pirates www.piratepaddlers.com
DieselFish from San Francisco www.dieselfish.com/ including 5 Ripple
Effect paddlers in their travel contingent
Gung Haggis Fat Choy http://www.gunghaggis.com/blog/_archives/2006/3/29/1847817.html
(paddling in Victoria with the Pirates)
Cultus Lake Dragonfliers
some Wasabi Warriors paddlers on the side observing http://www.wasabiusa.org/
This was a mini-version of the infamous Gung Haggis Fat Choy: Toddish McWong’s Robbie Burns Chinese New Year dinner http://www.gunghaggis.com/blog/GungHaggisFatChoydinner that served almost 500 people earlier this year,
and which inspired the “Gung Haggis Fat Choy“ CBC regional television performance special. http://www.outtosee.ca/clips/index.php/
Clan Chieftain of Gung Haggis Fat Choy, Toddish McWong hosted the
dinner and provided musical accompaniment with his accordion (being
much too cheap to hire a real bagpiper). Singalong sheets were
provided. The DieselFish team was the first to arrive, grabbing
the best seats near the front, followed by the Cultus Lake
Dragonflyers. Pirates and Gung Haggis paddlers claimed they got
lost in Chinatown, but quickly found seats as Toddish started the
official details by playing O Canada – to the stunned San Francisco
paddlers who were looking for words on the song sheets.
We sang rousing versions of Scotland the Brave and When Asian Eyes are Smiling, along with an extra chorus of When Dragon Eyes Are Smiling.
Todd aptly explained the significance of Scottish and Chinese
historical contributions to British Columbia, claiming them as BC’s
real “two solitudes” – not the English French stuff.
Todd read from his self-penned “Gung Haggis Fat Choy” poem
What is Gung Haggis Fat Choy?
It is the inter-section of Chinese and Scottish cultures.
In a new land, In a new voice, In a new vision…
It is Gung Hay Fat Choy;
the traditional Chinese New Year greeting meaning “Longevity and Fortune.”
It is Robbie Burns Day; the celebration of the Scottish poet Robbie Burns, and all things Scottish…
The Chinese called this land Gum San (Gold Mountain)
And the Scots gave it the name of Nova Scotia
Westerners became Easterners – The Far East becomes the Far West
Yes… we served haggis, and debated whether its origins were truly in
Scotland or historically in China (since we know that Chinese people
don’t waste a thing cooking and eat every part of the animal). No
haggis won ton served – but we mixed the haggis into our lettuce wraps
and happily munched away.
Claire (DieselFish), Sandy (Cultus Lake Dragonfliers), Justin (DF),
Yanic (Pirates), Ian (Pirates), Todd with kilt, Margaret (CLDF), Gordon
(DF) – photo Daniel
8 brave souls tested their tongues reciting the word of Robbie Burns’ immortal poem To a Haggis
– masticating and chewing the words with authentic, faux and imagined
Scottish accents that were washed down with drams of Scotch. It
was really interesting to find out about each poetry reciter.
Gordon Grigor, a native Torontonian who is now a transplanted
Californian and head coach for DieselFish started off with the first
verse “Fair Fay your honest sonsie face.” Margaret was born in
Glasgow, and now paddles for Cultus Lake Dragonfliers.
captain Ian Paul specifically took over verse three, for a very
animated reading… standing on a chair with a knife and stabbing the
wee beastie with dramatic flair – even licking the knife clean when he
finished. Pirates steersman Yannick is originally from Sri Lanka,
and did a fair reading while California’s Justin of DieselFish
struggled with the strange words. Sandy of Cultus Lake, was born
in Chilliwack, and gave an excited reading, which was in turn topped by
San Franisco born Claire of DieselFish.
Toddish told the
audience to repeat the lines he speaks whenever he raised his
fist. He promptly then rounded off the final verse stating, “Auld
Scotland wants nae skanking ware, but if ye wish her grateful
prayer…” then McWong raised his fist with the words “Gie her a
Haggis.” And the crowd repeated “Gie her a Haggis.” Then Wong did
it again and again… It was a definite highlight of the evening, which
one paddler described as “surreal.”
2 DieselFish paddlers initiated an impromptu haggis eating contest.
Paddlers stood on their chairs cheering on the eaters… of the one
pound little beasties. Mark
the assistant coach of DieselFish and paddlerTodd Okayama were the
haggis-eaters. It was a California duel, as Okayama actually
paddles with Ripple Effect in the Bay Area, and joined the DieselFish
crew for the Victoria races. The total effect was very
frightening, and paddlers wondered what the after effects would
be. But both paddlers were healthy in the morning, and raced hard.
of DieselFish chomps down on haggis, while Todd Okayama meets the
challenge bite for bite. Gung Haggis paddler Jim Blatherwick
(second from right) sits beside Okayama cheering him on, while
DieselFishy Sean (second from left) cheers on Mark.- photo Daniel
The evening ended with each table group crossing their arms and linking their hands, to sing Auld Lange Syne
(words by Burns) – both in English and Mandarin Chinese… Okay…
some table groups also did “the wave” or “octopus turns” – but every
body had so much fun that they couldn’t stop talking about it on
pictures appearing soon on http://www.gunghaggis.com/
I think we have started a new dragon boat tradition in Victoria… and will be back for next year!
Look out for a Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner next January
in Victoria… as well as the big one in Vancouver now set for January 27th, 2007.
Here is a link to more photographs taken by DieselFish paddler Daniel (raised in Mission BC). http://gallery.dhead.com/folder/2006/VictoriaDragonBoatFestival/Day2&page=2
On Day 2 – you can see pictures of the dinner, complete with me putting
a kilt on DieselFish head coach (and native Torontonian) Gordon Grigor.
You can also see more of the infamous haggis eating contest between DieselFish
assistant coach Mark, and paddler Todd Okayama (actually from Ripple
Effect). Good picture of Gung Haggis paddler Jim Blatherwick sitting
beside all the haggis eating action.