Simply Food

Food is the second most basic need of humans. The first of course, is water. The human body (sorry, I think most of you know this but I think I have to repeat it anyway) may last more than 20 days without food, but only 3 without water. Water has been flavoured and changed in so many ways, but it is still the most beneficial to us in its purest form, which is plain water.

That’s not the same of food. Food has evolved, the way it is cooked, the way it is eaten… The basic ingredients have been transformed to make new attacks and sensations on our palate. Even now it is evolving. Foods from different nations are being fused together to make new dishes, new tastes.

Why am I writing about food? Simply because growing up in a multiracial family has made appreciative of the food that is on my table. As I have mentioned before, I hate spicy food. However, years of merely smelling spicy food have done wonders for my nose. I know when it is seasoned well, and when the dish has been deliberately ‘watered down,’ so to speak.

One instance is Devil Curry. This popular Portuguese dish is red in colour. It is called Devil Curry not only for its deep red colour, but also for its spiciness. It is one of the few dishes that you can actually smell the chillies in them not only as they are cooked, but when they are served as well. I don’t know how it is served in Portugal, but here in Malaysia, it is served with rice or even putu mayam. Both of them are staples. Dishes are served with them to enhance the flavour of the dishes.

Putu mayam is made out of rice flour. Add a little salt, a little water to make it thick and then put it into the mould. The mould consists of two parts. They are basically a long hollow cylinder and the tube that fits into the cylinder. Both of them have handles.

The cylinder has one opening at the top, to allow the tube to enter. At the bottom, holes are poked. A handful of flour is put into the cylinder, the excess put back with the others. The tube then presses the flour through the holes, making thin noodles. The mould is turned as a repeated circle, until the flour is used. The results are then steamed.

This is putu mayam. It’s one of the dishes in Malaysia that is the daily staple food. I have it only once a year generally, because like most of my family members I was raised on mainly rice. I have it during Christmas, with another dish called “Kurma Curry.

Religion

Religion is something that is easily dismissed by those who study science. The main reason for it, they say, is because God cannot be measured by empirical means. He cannot be measured, He cannot be touched, smelled, or taste. Yet if He were, would that not mean the end of the Mystery? Would we not be moaning about the death of one of Life’s greatest Pleasures?

Now, unlike the days that have gone before us, are truly the days of wonderment. Everyday something new is being discovered, and in some cases, something old is reaffirmed. There is much to see, much to do, much to discover by all.

We are no longer simply the people who had to slave all day and sometimes all night to put food on the table. At the end of the day our minds crave stimulation, intellectual arguments, we want to fill this curiosity that is burning within us. We have the time to do it. We have the energy.

Most of us are comfortable in knowing what they already know. Many of us are content to merely watch and absorb new information. However, there are many more of us who are not.

Many of the youths of today, dream as the youths before them, of making a difference in the world. They dream of having a voice, and to make those in power listen to their voices so that the world might be a better place for them when it is time to hand over the reins.

And they have the means and opportunities to do so. However, their focus has gone awry. What you hear students and people talking on the street nowadays is not how they may serve their country, but on what is current, what is new, and what is passé. Can we blame them?

In Malaysia, the youths, with the exceptional few, have been trained to think shallowly. What matters is that you get a degree. You get a good, high paying job that will enable you to live out your lives as you want. Don’t take risks! That’s too dangerous! Would you want your poor old mom and dad to live outside on the streets?

What do you mean that you want to be a writer? Don’t you know that writers are all poor? What do you mean that you want to be a journalist? Don’t you know that they all smoke and die young? And you want to be a police? Whatever for? They are all corrupt and useless people, only Malays go there! You want to be a teacher? Those are all dead-end jobs and low pay, only failures go there!

Be a businessman, like your Chinese uncle. Be a doctor, like your Indian father. Take advantage of the system you’re a bumi* aren’t you?

And with parents mouthing statements like these the leaders of today are wondering what happened to the leaders of tomorrow. I mean it. I know what my friends and I face, Many of our parents, they say, want the best for us, but they don’t realise that what may the best for them, need not necessarily be the best for us.

It’s hard for me to find someone who will happily engage me in an hour or two, just to discuss politics, (not withstanding that the leaders of today, who are parents, have banned students from being political until they come out of college/university) philosophy, among other matters. Things that challenge and stimulate the minds in form of discussions are very rarely found. Why? Because our parents dismiss them as nonsense. After all, they don’t bring in money, and they encourage you to loiter.

If they would make these things accessible to youths and to give them truly a platform to discuss them, maybe the youths of today will be slightly more equipped to be the leaders of tomorrow. By the way, for those of you who say premarital sex is bad and etc, please don’t attend. I’m all for the exchange of ideas, but looking down from a moral high ground makes me ever so slightly nauseous.

*bumi- Malays or those who have been here before the British

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Exams, exams, exams. Are they not the scourge of students everywhere? Do they not have only one purpose and one purpose alone? To torture hapless students, even if they have studied? Perhaps the exams serve a purpose noble to teachers… To give them some pleasure in marking student’s works.

Yeah, I know, I sound a little off. The thing is, today is the first of my last two papers. Funnily enough, it is my Public Relations paper. I love Public Relations. It’s far more complex and entertaining than I thought it would be. Yet, at the same time, it is quite tiring. I’ve had a taste of organizing an event during my last term hols, so I kinda know what you need to do when organizing an event. Yet that’s not what I find the most challenging when it comes to PR. It’s the management of the different publics, what they need, want and in some cases, their demands.

Motto

The choices we make haunt us forever. That’s one of my mottos. No matter what you do, your past will always come back to haunt you. Your embarrasments (hoped I spelled that correctly), your hopes, dreams, bitterness, disappointments… It doesn’t matter that you’ve fulfilled something you set out to do. Something will always come back and make you regret it.

Unlike the song, I have a few, and they are not too few to mention. The pain, the regrets, but most importantly, the people I met whom I never gave a chance to know. Losing a chance to meet them… These were people I only knew when they were gone.

I’ve had two deaths on my mother’s side, both of whom were rather important to the family. One was my maternal grandfather, whom I did not associate much as he spoke Hokkien and I didn’t speak a word of it. Well, just a little. I liked him because he was nice, but he never hugged nor held me. Coming from a conservative and traditional Chinese family, that was to be expected. I think his greatest regret was that he never had a grandson. You see, though I have a brother, my brother carries my dad’s family name and not my maternal grandfather’s. There was talk of perhaps changing my brother’s name, but that too was scrapped.

My gradfather passed away when I was 10. It’s been nine years since his death. We were blessed about two years ago with finally, the heir to the family name. He gave a scare during his early years as he contracted a disease that had killed a lot of children in Sabah and Sarawak, but now he’s fine and making us run around when we play with him. He has two cousin sisters who are in their middle and early twenties, a cousin who is 19 (that’s me!) and her 16 year old brother, and lastly, a cousin who is very much closer to his age, eight years old. With the exception of my brother, the rest of us are all girls.

My youngest female cousin on this side also has a sad story. Her mother passed away about three years ago, shortly before my cousin brother was born. She was in her 30s. She had had brain tumours appearing now and then. I still remembered holding her daughter in my arms during those dark, last days. Death is never, ever a pretty thing!

Generic Food Post!

Variety, they say, is the spice of life. How true. You certainly get that in Malaysia. In the Chinese Coffeeshops alone you’ll find Chinese, Indian, Malay food and if you’re lucky, even Western food, which are sometimes a rarity during lunch hour. In any case, you can find food to satisfy even the most discerning palate in Malaysia.

Around my college area in Taman Mayang, which is in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, there are about 13 shops (some are hawker stalls, others coffeeshops and even cafes). That’s quite a lot, considering that the area is less than 1.5 kilometres in radius. However, some of the food are not suitable for everyone, simply because of one simple word, “Halal.” This word means a lot in Malaysia.

With the main religion being Islam, there is a demand for food that are not only delicious, but meets the standards set by Jakim, the Islamic Department in Malaysia. ‘Halal’ implies that these foods meet Islamic standards. These are found quite readily but they tend to be the same kind of dishes. For non-muslims like me, sometimes we prefer non-spicy food.

Well, make that all the time for me. I can’t stand spicy food due to a bad experience when I was a kid. Besides, eating non-spicy food has given me a chance to enjoy other foods that are not so spicy and enabled me to taste them without adding anything. Some people cannot eat food without adding a ‘hint’ of spicyness to it, whether it be chillies or pepper. That destroys the experience, I believe. It’s a very sad thing.

That’s all for now about Malaysian food. Ahh… In some places they say that you eat to live, not live to eat, but with so many varieties and tastes and scents to experience, you’d be foolish to miss out! Well, unless you’re on a strict medical diet, which sorts of restricts you.

Bye!