Politics is an important living concern. and for the last 50 years it is very much a part of our every day table topic in fact some even say kopi deng chia dui pow (coffee shop talk) or barber salon's chat. Political stability is in fact of the greatest concern for all young and old. We cannot deny it. So when someone brushes away a polite political conversation I feel that he or she is perhaps in denial. My very spoon of sugar or my breakfast egg is part of the political game of today. Mind you there is talk that after the election the price of fuel is going up again. There you go!
So these ten days of election campaign brings to mind today of an interesting part of my life in Sibu - how my family and I come to like Braised Bamboo Shoots in tin which come all the way from China. How did we Foochows come to like this grocery item since the 1960's?
During the days of Confrontation and later the Communist Insurgency in Sarawak my family often was worried about scarcity of food because curfew could be suddenly imposed and my mother would be caught off guard at times . Our relatives living dowriver would also be paralysed with fear not only by lack of food but by other dangers.
It was lucky that we had some vegetables growing in our back yard in Sibu. And wood was bought from a msll lorry which delivered ramin bark and broken parts from time to time. During curfew we had to be more frugal with our fuel and food My mother was so traumatised by those times that even until today she would always have a few cans of tinned food in our food safe. One of our favourite tinned food is the braised Bamboo Shoot.
Hence most of us from Sibu and especially the Foochows have some tinned food in our cupboards because we have( to the laughter of many) - an inbuilt "refugee" complex.
However on the serious side it was (and perhaps more importantly) the teaching which went with the eating of the bamboo shoots which remains with all of us after all these years....
Each time we opened a can of braised bamboo shoot my grandmother would repeat her teachings of the 24 filial piety stories - stories of virtuous children who were filial to their parents.
And of of the stories was related to winter bamboo shoots and Meng Zong .
Meng Zong lived during the Three Kingdoms Period of China’s past. His father died when he was young, and he and his mother struggled to survive. One winter his mother was stricken with a serious illness, and craved some bamboo shoot broth as medicine. But in the depths of winter, with snow and ice blanketing the ground, where was anyone to find fresh bamboo shoots, shoots that emerge only in the warm months? Nonetheless, Meng Zong, to avoid disappointing his mother, bravely fetched his shovel and went out into the white landscape in search of bamboo shoots.
After looking for bamboo shoots throughout the winter day he was exhausted and he fell asleep. He had a dream and a goddess appeared who told him that his love for his mother had touched her heart and she would bless him with bamboo shoots. When he woke up he saw that his tears had soften the ice and little shoots of bamboo had grown overnight. From that day on winter bamboo began to grow in his village......
His teardrops transformed winter at the roots;
Up from the ice crept tender bamboo shoots.
Instantly, the winter-sprouts matured;
Heaven’s will: a happy, peaceful world.
Fresh winter bamboo shoots found in China.......
I like to eat this with my porridge . ....a light night supper with braised bamboo shoots would set your mind thinking of old days.
This is edible without any cooking. So we often took this for camping in our youth.
I do not know if this is the best brand...but this is what we can get in Sarawak. Every now and then I would pick up a tin of this and have it as part of my plain and frugal meal.
And may I wish all of you a smooth polling day today. And hope that there would not be any untoward incidents to cause a curfew to be imposed....or worst still something bad which would happen and some of you would be having government curry rice for a few months without trial!!
We the people of Sarawak have to thank all members of the public and government for keeping the peace in Sarawak and making democracy work.
God bless us all today!!