July 28, 2009

A Brunei-Dayak Luncheon Gathering

It is often said by many that the streets of Brunei are fabulously clean and no rubbish bin is ever seen to be overflowing. And this is indeed the impression I have whenever I am in Brunei.

The secret of this cleanliness? It must be a great team of street cleaners and scavenging truck drivers well supervised by an equally great team of Municipal Council Street Cleaning Unit who have great civic mindedness and good work attitude. A very simple maxim - once thrown rubbish must be removed by another human being. My secondary school domestic science teacher use to say over and over again that the only way to keep a home clean was that "some one has to pick up the rubbish and remove it and only then the house will be perfectly clean. It can be you or another person. It is your choice! If you want a clean house - remove all the rubbish. Remove. Remove. And Remove!"

Just last week I had the opportunity to attend a great home cooked celebration lunch with an Iban or Dayak extended family who are cleaners and private truck drivers in Brunei. three of the men have married Iban ladies from Kanowit. They are particularly grateful to a very special "Apai" who helped bring electricity and water supply to their "village" situated near a small river. Whenever they have the opportunity they would slaughter an animal or two during a special day off ( e.g. special public holiday) and have a "party" and relax . They are glad and grateful that they have work which brings home the proverbial bacon.

While many would pay a great sum of money for hotel cooked food these happy subjects of the state would celebrate their existence with gratitude in very simple ways. Here are some photos of their simple lifestyle which you might find a little unique. Perhaps?

Wood ready for a wood fire. Piped gas is not available in this village.

A roaring fire to cook meat in the traditional Dayak way. See the food filled bamboo or ruas roasting at the side.

Roasting ketola/petola on the fire which is a traditional Dayak method of cooking. the natural skin will peel off and the cooked inside could be beautifully cut or sliced.

Roasted ketola (sliced) served on a bunga kentang leaf. Delicious and naturally cooked over fire the ketola retains its natural flavours. A garden of Eden food.

This is the head of a small special animal freshly slaughtered in the morning for the occasion. The diners enjoyed picking the meat off the bones and it is believed by both the Chinese and the Dayaks that the cooked brains would help the children to become mentally and physically strong to face all adversities in life. One of the daughters of the family is a top student in her class.

The Happy Benefector - Simon Gelang. Here in this special home you can be your real self and enjoy every drop of the kiam chye soup flavoured by natural ingredients. May he enjoy a long and prosperous life! May blessings be upon him.

Ketupat - a special three sided delicacy made from glutinuous rice and wrapped with jungle palm called grinis. The grinis palm can be collected just thirty meters away from the village on the shoulder of the hill.

Music came from a DVD player and as the ladies drank at their corner a lively Dayak lady in her fifties started to do the joget and making every one merry in the warmth of the day. And the smoke from the wood fire just created a very special ambience.

The Dayak men sat quietly drinking their rice wine or iced cola and once in a while they would pick a piece of roasted meat from the several plates placed on the low home made coffee table (if you can call it that) and discussed the topics of day - hunting and fishing. Occasionaly one would come up with a great memory of a past hunting trip.

Nothing bonds family together better than freshly cooked food and a warm hearth.


justin said...

nice of you to feature roasted ketola. I had plenty of this excellent vegetable whenever I travel to the ulu.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Dear Justin
How have you been? I am glad you had experience of eating roated ketola/petola. I like brinjal done this way too.
Isn't the firewood brilliant?

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