July 11, 2015

Government Quarters

this kind of government quarters (Class 3) is on the way out of our social scenarior.

In the olden days, government servants who were not graduates, thus "lowly classified" were given accomodation like this. Rental was a mere 30 dollars, around the late 1960's and early 1970's.

I have a lot of good memories visiting friends who stayed in this kind of quarters.

I remember particularly the late Mr. Christopher Ngadan who served as District Education Officer in Limbang in1970's. He was a good cook and very friendly.

So he would call many friends to come and share his food. He was also bringing up 2 nephews at that time.

And sometimes we would go to Brunei for our weekend ice cream. That was the nice thing about living in Limbang in those days and when you earn just a small salary.

A decent meal was sharing of food, sharing of washing of dishes, some peanuts, some bananas and some beer.

It was so nice to drink the local coffee made in a large pot which helped us have great conversations into the long hot nights.

One teacher remembers him, a bachelor, giving a talk on family planning in Lawas many years ago.
"Have small families so that you can provide quality life and quality education."

July 10, 2015

Sibu Tales : Cuttlefish and Pork Leg

If food can talk, it would be full of love in all the conversations.

But we Chinese have a saying that we should allow our food to speak on our behalf.

One of the best food that my maternal grandmother would make for the whol family would be cuttle fish boiled with Chow Yi Char or the Smelly Root which was then considered poor man's ginseng.

Cuttlefish in the 60's was cheap and pletniful. My grandmother would always have a tinful of it in the kitchen, ever ready for a good soup.

Once every few weeks and especially during the school holidays we would have this soup, with fresh pork leg bought from Sibu. My grandma would leave early in the morning by motor launch for Sibu and then return by the noon motor launch.

By evening the whole kitchen would be filled with the fragrance of the health giving and truly nourshing soup.  A pork leg would be chopped up into small bit sizes pieces and the dried cuttlefish cut into small slices. In those days, grandma would have put into two or three cuttlefish just to add more fragrance to the soup. It was my grandmother's way of showing her love for her hard working son, Pang Sing, who would return to work in Sibu was a wharf labourer, in between periods of smoking rubber sheets.

We could eat the cuttle fish and pork leg soup in two ways, one with rice and the other with soh mien or longevity noodles.

I loved the soup with lots of garlic and Foochow red wine.

Somehow I remember the pork leg to be especially big, and the family would make the dish last two or three days.

It should definitely be considered our Foochow way of showing love and family bonding through a soup.