Category Archives: food

Love Is In The Ends

In those days when our daily bread was in the form of a big loaf – called Roti Benggali – some folks used to slice off the ends, and in fact all the crusts, and ate only the soft insides.

Many people still do this.  However, they are missing out the best parts of the bread.  In fact, when a new loaf arrives at my home (in pre-sliced form these days), I pick out the end pieces for a delectable breakfast.    So while I enjoy my Love Without End, other members of my family can have their Loaf Without Ends!

Perhaps it has to do with my childhood training.  I was taught not to waste food, nor even a grain of rice, not even a crumb of bread (let alone ‘huge’ chunks of crusty pieces).

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Squeeze Me Baby With All Your Might

Rummaging through my kitchen cabinet one day, I found this piece of magnificent ancient glassware. I guess it must have been with us for the last 4 decades or so – I might as well call it an artefact instead.

I am not sure what its correct name is – shall I call it Manual Juicer?

That same day I got hold of a couple of oranges, slit them in halves and then revived my hand muscles to get the juice flowing.  Man, it was hard work – I really had to squeeze the fruit halves with all my might, while simultaneously rotating them around.

I remember it was a rather easy job 40 years ago.  But this time round, my hand joints felt sore, and I had to rub in some analgesic balm afterwards for relief.  

Olden Day No-Fly Zones

Back in the old kampong, wherever there was food, the environment would be abuzz with houseflies. 

Thus in every household there would be at least one food cover – usually a large one with a diameter of about one yard – to enforce a No-Fly Zone against the airborne invaders.

In those days, these covers were usually made of rattan, though some wire-mesh types were also available. 

Ever since moving out of the kampong, I have seldom seen such covers.  Perhaps, the general hygiene of the environment has been greatly improved, and thus houseflies have found it hard to eke out a living, and called it quits.

There are modern types that are made of plastic material, and have some degree of transparency.  Too bad for the flies – can see, can smell but cannot get to eat.

Stick ‘Em Up

Folkore has it that this sticky kuih was offered to the Kitchen Gods before they were sent off to heaven for CNY, ensuring that their mouths were “glued” shut, preventing bad reports from being heard “up there”.

Traditionally, small bamboo baskets lined with heat-treated banana leaves were used to hold the gooey slurry, before being put into a steamer to cook the contents.

There were a lot of “pantangs” or taboos to be avoided during the making, otherwise the results would be “disastrous”

This “Kuih Bakul” as it is also known, can be eaten in several ways.  Cut into smaller slices and sandwiched between pieces of yam and/or sweet potato and deep-fried was one yummy way.  Another was to coat softened slices with finely grated coconut.

I preferred those that had hardened over several months — just ate the slices without further ado.

Rice To The Occasion Of The Full Moon

Make it yellow, sticky and lemak. And don’t forget the Curry Chicken, please.  Folks, remember the Nasi Kunyit of old? 

Long before pathetic western cakes became incomprehensibly (to me, at least) fashionable, the successful completion of the first month on Earth for a baby was celebrated with the preparation and serving of Nasi Kunyit – which is steamed glutinous rice, laced with santan and colored with turmeric, and stuffed with some pepper corns.

When eaten with thick Chicken Curry ( I preferred to add a little fine sugar), it was scrumptiously yummy yum yum!  Of course at that time carbophobia was not yet invented, so no one was worried nor had any guilt-hangovers!

I remember that Nasi Kunyit was also a favorite serving on other festive occasions – as and when there was reason to get “high” other than Full Moons.

She Sells Seashells From The Seashore

Looks like I have just given the old tongue twister a new twist!

In the days of my youth, some of my neighhours would go to the sea shore (only about 15 mins’ walk) early in the morning, often with their children, to dig for Siput Remis.  Back then, there was an abundance of these shelled creatures, and so an hour or two of enthusiastic excavation could yield a couple of baskets of these delicious seafood.

Now and then, the children would be sent from house to house in the village to sell the excess Siput harvests.  “Siput, Siput” was their call.  I remember a cigarette tin or a condensed milk tin full of the siput cost 5 sen.  Stir-fried with black soya sauce, ginger and some sugar, these tasted heavenly.

Ikan Kekek Enak, I Like I Like

Haha, my version of the classic childhood song.   Either crispy deep-fried in oil or cooked in simple soup with pieces of ginger, this smallish (about 3 inches x 3 inches) plain-looking fish was a delight, guaranteed to make one polish off an extra plate of rice.

As kids we “fought” over the ultimate prizes — the roe that came in little balls about 1 cm in diameter, slightly flattened.  The poor man’s caviar !

Haiz, I have not seen nor tasted this ikan kekek for at least 3 decades now. Am not sure if it is just not available in Singapore or that it has been hunted to extinction. Maybe I have not searched hard enough.  What to do ?  As consolation, I just go to YouTube and search out the familiar music – tak dapat makan dengar pun jadi !

Really pathetic lah, I.