April 16, 2011

Braised Bamboo Shoots

Today is the 10th Sarawak State Election's Polling Day. Would there be a swing in election results? We will only know by 10 p.m. tonight...well that's a long wait for us.

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!!

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Unofficial results PKR and DAP leading in 35 seats. Baru Bian won. Taib, George Chan and Wong Soon Koh leading!!!

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Thanks Anonymous.....Will check with TV now...but the wind situation is bad and our TV reception is bad. Tonight may be there will be blackout as usual....cheers.

Anonymous said...

I remember those days of confrontation where we as Indonesians are living in the opposite side, but we do enjoy peaceful times and have nothing to worry, we even have friendly visits from the army member, well Binatang as it was called then was and still a small town. We were more concerned about our family back in our home country where they don't have much to eat (and that was I think one of the reason for the confrontation, to distract people). And yes I enjoy the canned food and Ma Ling is one of the favorite brand. However fresh bamboo shoots cooked with gulai paste, coconut milk and shrims was and still a favorite in our family.
Thanks for the memory.... Donny

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi Donny...nice of you to visit...yes we still do not know exactly why Soekarno initiated confrontation!! May be to let us know that Borneo island should be an island under one and not divided into three different components like to day. I am sure he had his good reasons...It also gave Abdul Rahman the Malaysian PM a good ground to unite Sarawakians and Sabahans behind him against a common enemy....The British sort of left us to our own decisions.

Fresh bamboo shoot and fresh shrimps...food in paradise lah....

Ann said...

The Chans survived on Bamboo. Even now in Canton, they still have a small holding. I miss it, and eat it with passion. But the family don't.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi...Now I proudly know a Chan family eating bamboo in Canton!! How nice to know it..yes this is one of my passions too.

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