July 25, 2011

Good things are wrapped in newspapers!!

My dad started off as a journalist in Singapore after he graduated and a few years later he founded a Kuching Chinese language newspaper. That  pre-war and unfortunate and  badly timed investment and enterprise was truly bombed in a way because the Japanese arrived on the shores of Sarawak just a few months after it was started. He not only lost a lot of money because he could not restart the business his  physical health suffered as he was badly beaten up by the Japanese when he was inprisoned (just three days). I think his heart just gave way after that. He died twenty years later from those beatings.

But dad never lost his love for newspapers during his life time. He made sure that we read well every day.

Now that's a horrible introduction to this post!! But that was exactly the background and reason why my siblings and I love reading newspapers and have a special spot in our minds for newspapers from various perspectives.

We love collecting stories and photos related to newspapers too....Like we would never forget the movie Angela's Ashes ..how the protagonist licked the oil off the newspaper or how newspapers were used to wrap food in Sibu etc....

Here are some photos of the old relationship between newspapers and Foochow toufoo......

I wonder how many people will remember this.

If you were born in Sibu and are now middle aged and perhaps even  older you would remember that you and your mother used to buy tou foo packed in this way. I have not seen this done in recent years in Sibu but I was delighted to meet this scene in Marudi recently.

I remember too that we would dry the paper (our reduce and reuse early years) and read the old newspapers and then stack them up to be used as "fire starters" on our Foochow stove. Old newspapers were useful for all sorts of other activities too.

Although Marudi is not exactly a Foochow town I was quite sure that the toufoo seller was a Foochow and I was right. But I cannot say that it is only the Foochows who wrap their toufoo in this traditional way. A layer of newspapers and then a layer of cardboard would prevent the toufoo from breaking up...especially if one is riding a bicycle and dangling a packet of toufoo from the handlebar!!

I have done that! Been there!





Today the traditional Foochow toufoo is still being made in Marudi by two men in particular and also ..at home. Thus the cottage industry is still thriving in a way but one of the vendors did say that his well educated son would not be carrying on his trade." No one wants to learn this any more!" he said.

Tofu or bean curd is a food made by coagulating soy milk and then pressing the resulting curds into soft white blocks. There are many different varieties of tofu, including fresh tofu and tofu that has been processed in some way. Tofu has a very subtle taste.

Tofu is thought to have originated in ancient China. It has spread to other parts of Asia. (Wikipedia)





May I am wrong, but the photo above shows the Foochow Tou Wan, or South East Asian tofu cake.......very good for making salads in a fusion kind of cooking. (See my future post on this...)And stir fried with some minced meat it is an excellent dish. Whenever I see this I would dream of my mother's Foochow meatballs which is one of a kind in this world.

Is it true that tou foo's texture is different from one locality to another because of the quality of the stream or spring water? I would like to see Sarawak rivers to become unpolluted again . If it is only to make the best toufoo in the world!! Please...Sarawak can/boleh!! Boleh? Can?

13 comments:

Yan said...

Yes I remember wrapping toufoo this way! I also remember having to peel off those papers from the toufoo!

It's good to remember. But it will be terrifying to read that "the newspaper is now only good to wrap rubbish". I read a comment not long ago in someone's facebook which read, "Today I bought a copy of XXXX because I have some rubbish to wrap and throw away!" How mean!

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Dear Yan...no matter what I will always value newspapers in more ways than just one. Read and discard is not my way...I treasure some of my newspaper cuttings from the past and I hope many of my students out there are still doing the same some of the time.
No I won't use buy newspapers for wrapping of rubbish...really mean thing to say...when I hear people say "I don't read newspapers at all..." I usually feel like growing some of those strong steel claws...

Sarawakiana@2 said...

oops..No I won't buy newspapers for wrapping of rubbish.....

kallyempire said...

I still remember sometimes ago, tapao food are also wrap in newspapers...but of cause outside a plastic wrapper~

Sarawakiana@2 said...

hi Kallyempire...Nice of you to visit...

Yes we had kueh tiaw wrapped in a thin sheet of plastic and then wrapped in newspapers which keep the food warm for sometime. One hawker in Lutong near Miri still packs hundreds of breakfasts (noodles etc) in a square packet wrapped in newspaper @ 30 sen originally. My children called them "Happiness in a square newspaper packet"!! These are memories which cannot be erased.

Anonymous said...

Hi...remember newspapers were also folded into paper bags which were used to hold together corn for chickens etc....It was a proud moment for my mother to bring home such supplies after she sold her vegetables and fruits. We got to read some old news from the wrapping. I loved that. Thanks.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi Anonymous..thanks for writing.I used to get those corn seeds for my mother. We used to raise our own chickens and ducks. Yes I remember those paper bags. In fact my siblings and I used to make them. Now recycling is in and I think the idea would be a good one.

Hahah...we used to read all the papers from those "recycled" bags...and I still remember sometimes before we started our fire mum would say...what's taking you so long to start the fire???Actually we would be reading the papers before we burned them...nostalgia!! Thanks.

Ann said...

hehehe, I don't eat Tufu because we ate so much of that, and I am protest because these days, they charge so much for a cheap cake when I was young.

One of my bro thinks the same way as me.

Ann said...

Newspaper, some people have the English cartoon, that's when we read them.

Loved to read about your Dad. My Dad was 21 at the end of the war.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Ann...Interesting things I have read in the past about tou foo....I eat like i is manna from heaven...Just can't help ording when in restaurant to....I feel like making a journey around the world eating toufoo.....That's my obssession...I know it is very cheap to make...understand.

http://www.welcomekyushu.com/event/?mode=detail&id=9999900000132&isSpot=&isEvent=

Sarawakiana@2 said...

My dad was 40 when he married my mum in 1948..He was born in 1910...So last year he was 100....We did not do an anniversary for him...Mum said she remembered.

Ann said...

Didn't the vendor place a piece of mickey mouse Ochna serrulata flowers leaf first? No contamination from the newsprint ink?

http://annkschin.blogspot.com/2009/10/macro-monday-mickey-mouse-ochna.html

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