December 30, 2011

New Year and Sarawak Wild Boars

Recently a friend reminded me of a special meal we had in the mountains of Taiwan when we were introduced to the Mountain Pig (Shan Ju) an exotic food for celebration like New Year or an auspicious birthday.

Sarawak actually has a good sized population of wild pigs which have been hunted by most of the indigenous peoples. The meat of the wild pigs have graced many a longhouse table ( or mat)for occasions like the Rajah Brooke's visit or any government functions and just ordinary every day events as and when a pig is caught.

The meat can be prepared fresh and used up for immediate consumption if there is no refrigeration.

It is necessary for me to explain how a wild pig is shared in an Iban longhouse using their communal tribal ways or Iban longhouse ADAT. The wild pig hunted by a group of hunters would be equally shared. And by the Iban custom the gun/trap would also get a share and if any dogs happen to come along the dog owner also gets a share. So a hunter who owns a gun and has a dog with him gets three shares. All those who come along for the hunt get a share each. It has been such a practice that the Chinese also get to know about it. Equal sharing of a good thing is " pa ya tu buong hung". Go for a hunt and get a share. It is sometimes construed negatively because many hangers on who tag along hope for an equal share!! Well in the real sense it is a real communal attitude that matters. Tribal wisdom has to be upheld and equal sharing is a positive attitude which shapes social wellness and a generous community.

If a hunter tells his friend that he is going on a hunt and he wants to sell the meat for a special fund for his family it has to be announced first. And the trophy will be sent to the market for sale. This commercialisation is a new social norm slowly taking shape and the older members of the community will have to make adjustments. We will see how this social behaviour will transform in the future.

Photo courtesy of Mattias
Shiban Shanzhu Rou(石板山豬肉 Stone-grilled Wild Boar Meat)
Taiwanese Wildboar meat cooked on hot stones - a delicacy for the new year.
This is a stud - an offspring of a wildboar and a kampong pig.

In the days to come when the wild pig is no longer free to roam in the jungles of Sarawak a new breed of  mix breeds will grace the tables of the indigenous Sarawakians. What will the future be like? In 1988 I asked my students in Miri...what will happen to our longhouse dwellers if all the jungles are gone? One smart city boy said.."Don't worry ...they can eat salted wild meat or tinned luncheon pork from China...."

In the olden days (and back to my Foochow roots)....30th Dec would always be the day when my Third Uncle Pang Sing would go and slaughter the selected pig...while he would sell most of the pork...we would also reserve some good parts for grandmother and ourselves...and other close relatives...If we were lucky a neigbhouring farmer or even my own uncle before 1968 would even kill a wild boar in a lucky hunt before the new year!! What wonderful cheers of joy would ring out when a magnificient animal was caught in the rubber gardens...Free meat from the forest was a blessing from God!!

We Chinese in Sarawak had surrendered our guns to the Malaysian government in 1968 and no Chinese farmer could go hunting freely for wild boars after that year.

One year there was a family of wildboars swimming across the Rajang and we could only use our wooden paddles to hit the was no hunt..but it was a very regrettable event...We were helpless...and the harvest was so plentiful. If only we had a gun or a good parang..but then it was too dangerous to struggle with a swimming pig in the Rajang!!

..Only those with connections had gun licences today.

Each time I am served with a plate of good wildboar meat there would be so many stories to tell!

Happy New Year...May fair winds be behind your sails...and may the roads you travel be safe ...and of course may your table be laden with feasts for dear ones to share at all times!!

Buah Mentega

December 29, 2011

Egg Fruit from Vietnam

Recently many housewives have been intrigued by a new fruit called Egg Fruit. Sandakan in Sabah seems to be making in roads into this fruit cultivation. Miri has a few people growing it and Sibu according to my friends also has several fruit trees which are already fruiting. The fruits are already sold in the Limbang tamu where I picked up a few..The vendors call them buah mentega!! It is called canistel and originates in Mexico and Central America.

"The canistel grows up to 10 meters (33 ft) high, and produces orange-yellow fruit, also called yellow sapote, up to 7 centimeters (2.8 in) long, which are edible raw. Canistel flesh is sweet, with a texture often compared to that of a cooked egg yolk, hence its colloquial name of "eggfruit." It is closely related to the Mamey sapote and abiu."

"The plant's name in the Vietnamese language is cây trứng gà (“chicken egg” plant) because of the fruit's appearance. It also has the Vietnamese name lekima. This is very unusual because Vietnamese is a tonal language which uses predominantly monosyllabic words. It appears that this name derives from the word lucuma. The unusual name "Lekima" has been included in the list of typhoon names, and was applied to a storm that devastated north-central Vietnam and killed from 42 to 5"
So look out for these fruits in the market or in your friends' garden...My own photos will be posted soon.  (I am having some computer problem at the moment...and cannot upload any photos from my camera..)

December 27, 2011

Modern Cao Chuns

MY GROUP of good friends in Miri often gather to have some sisterly chats....usually for any reason you can think of since most of us are retired and children have flown the nest.

With Christmas gone and the end of the year approaching I got to think that many of my friends share similarities with Wang Chao Chun ( a Han Dynasty beauty who was part of a peace treaty between the Chinese and the Mongols). She was a concubine in the Han Palace but the Huangti had never seen her (probably he had thousands of concubines) as her portrait was tainted by the corrupt artist. When she was selected to be sent to the Mongols the Emperor was dumbfounded by her beauty. But it was too late. And she was sent on her way to the far north amidst the snow.

How many of our women have in fact married into unknown fates and had made fantastic contributions to their husbands' Ruth in the Bible when she went home with Naomi..."Your people will be my people...and your country will be my country". Ruth became the ancestress of Jesus after she married Boaz as part of her fate when she and Naomi came to live in her late husband's land.

In the cold of the winter I think of the fates of such women who today have to struggle for the sake of their children and members of their extended family. May be Wang Chao Chun's song would open your eyes to such feminine sacrifices....

Clap clap...for my good friends...May 2012 bring joy and peace to all of us......

Often we celebrate each other's birthdays when they seem to be forgotten.....
Lin Dai in her role as Wang Chao Chun....the long suffering concubine who loved the hard hearted Emperor

Enjoy the music and reflect on how women have played their roles in our country and beyond!!

December 24, 2011

Greetings from Sarawak - Land of the Hornbills

The wings of the Hornbill have taken us rapidly through the year 2011.

2011 has been a great year.

I can say I have

done that - took thousands of photographs
been there - went to Yunnan and many parts of Sarawak
eaten that - lots of new dishes (vegetables cooked in peanut milk soup)  and tried new foods! The durian season also saw me eating red durians and excellent sweet young durian fruit soup!!

There were losses of dear ones some who suddenly left this world without saying goodbye while others have lived out their fruitful days.

There were new born babies into our large extended families and cousins have become grandmothers and grandfathers!!

there have been new additions to the family - new in laws

there have been tragedies - Japanese tsunami and landslides and earthquakes to name just three.

Personally I must thank the Almighty who has granted me good health and a great sense of humour to see me through thick (extra inches on my waist) and thin (wallet is getting thinner every day with all the inexplicable inflated prices)besides other ups and downs.

But my all time delight has been the writing I have taken to heart - in my blog Sarawakiana@2. And of course reading of some of the best books ever written in English.

to all friends and relatives in the real world...Great healthy days ahead with blessings from the Almighty God...("The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom...") all my friends and relatives in Cyberspace...

and to one and all......

Merry Christmas and a Happy 2012....Let us all pray for Peace and Harmony

Signing off with photos from friends of the Hornbill a bird which is considered by many as a symbol of
majesty (of God)
protection (it protects mankind from serpents)
and ecological balance

Photo : Courtesy of Peter Yong  - Baby Hornbill...before its colour changes. Like the ugly duckling it will become beautiful as it grows older.

Photo Courtesy of Lam Ching Fu...What a lovely bird..and a unique call if you can hear it  in the jungle. Once heard never forgotten. God has given it a special voice!!
Photo : Courtesy of Sarawaklens - Hornbills keep snake population at bay in the ecological web.

Each an every one of us has a role to play and a right to live!! We have the right to soar as high as possible...and may you all have wind beneath your wings.......
And May God bless you especially when you are weary and heavily burdened..

December 22, 2011

One of the TWO FIRST Chinese to Plant Rubber in the Rajang 1901-1907

Who was the Hokkien man who planted the first rubber trees in Sibu in the 1900's? The Foochows have always known that Wong King Huo as the first Chinese who planted rubber in Sibu...but do you know anything about the Hokkien history?

The Hokkiens are actually from Xia Men or Amoy (old English word). And perhaps there were more than two amongst those who came with Wong Nai Siong.

Rubber was first planted in the Ensurai area by the Foochows brought to Sibu by Wong Nai Siong.But surprising there was one Amoy or Mingnan man amongst them and he settled together with the Kutiens in Ensurai as one of the earliest courageous rubber planters. Indeed out of 1118 Foochow pioneers brought by Wong Nai Siong there could be more than 1 Hokkien (Amoy) man amongst them To date no one has made a complete name list of the 1118 Foochow pioneers who came to Sibu!!
(Photo is courtesy of Wong Meng Lei )

His name is Kuo Yew Tzu...the grandfather of Han Sen (aka Mr. Bean)- you can also visit his famous outlet at Beautiful View Garden near Bukit Aup in Sibu..and enjoy his special hand man noodle dishes...

River Boats in the Baram

Christmas carolling by river boats any one? the 1960's before the political upheavals in the Rajang areas the Methodists used to herald the birth of Christ by visiting friends and relatives using their family owned motor launches when footpaths could not reach the distant homes along the river...

This is one small memory I would like to write about. But I have no digital images of those days..and those carollers. and instead I bring you this article today as I think of the special Christmas time in Sibu with my grandmother and those lovely motor launch days.....I like to remember the late Rev. Lau Ngo Kee and the late Rev.Ho Siew Leong (a Henghua but spoke excellent Foochow) who provided pastoral care especially amongst others.

Travelling along the huge Baram River in Sarawak is always a great thrill for me. In the 1990's I had to supervise many English pre service teachers during their practicum. I would spend a week every month travelling up and down the Baram. My journey would start at Kuala Baram often in the very early morning. I would have to start at 5.30 in the morning so that I could reach the express boats pier or jetty by 6.45 and to take the 7 o'clock express boat. The boat men would recognise me and help me up the boat and greet warmly. It really was a nice feeling to be recognised by almost everyone.

I would travel to "Half River" or Pengkalayan where there was a school which seemed almost floating on water at high tide!! And then in the afternoon I would reach Marudi ready for the next day's work. On the third day I would travel again up to Benawa where there was a very good school which was nestled amongst mangrove swamps and it was not infrequent that I would meet monkeys on the trees and some snakes slithering amongst the roots of the trees while I carefully walked on the wooden plank walk.

From Benawa I would take the afternoon express boat to Long Lama where I would the night at a lodging house. If the Principal was around I would have some intellectual discussion and good company. Otherwise I would enjoy an evening with the The next day I would start observing my students again. Immediately after the observations I would take the last express from Long Lama and reach Marudi just in time to catch the last flight from the town. If it rained I would have to stay the night again. Sometimes if I had students in Long Ikang it would mean that I have to observe two students in that school and stay longer on the Baram!!

It was not so difficult to plan the logistics after one year of itinerant work like this. And I was only involved in one express boat accident when it ran aground on a sand bank. No hijacking ever occurred in this peaceful valley.

This was my kind of life for about 10 years. But it only added to my already very enriched and culturally exciting life!!

Today it would be best if you could travel by the slow Chinese motor launches which are now rather rare. In the 1960's those were the only means of travelling from the river mouth of the Baram to as far as Long Lama.

Today land transport has taken over because of the rapid rate of progress in the state. Roads are now criss crossing the Baram valley and into the interior as far as Bario!! At one time Bario was considered even inaccessible by road. Now the story is different.

I would like to thank all the boat men who helped me in my journeys. And I am sure many others who have had the opportunities to travel by river would like to remember the boats and the boatmen with fondness.

Hence I have captured many photos of the life on the Baram..and here are some photos of the river boats before they are completely taken off our social scene!!

I am sure many people would have good memories (some bad ones of course) of their journeys up and down the Baram river....

A very special era of river boats is slowly being extinguished by modern technology and progress. And I do pray that the future of the Baram will be a brilliant one!!

December 20, 2011

Biskut Cina Mati

The Osborne biscuits originated in England. And it was brought over to the British colonies ...

Osborne Biscuits
These were originally produced in 1860 and were one of the first semi-sweet varieties of biscuit to find mass favour. Initially intended to be called after Queen Victoria, Her Majesty declined to be associated with a commercial product but gracefully suggested that they could name the biscuit after her favourite home, Osborne House on the Isle of Wight.

What did happen during the initial manufacturing of the Osborne Biscuits in Malaya we would not know. Perhaps the local manufacturers started making the "imitation" ones..or they really had the rights to producing them in Malaya and Singapore...As I do remember as a child I learned to spell OSBORNE as I ate each biscuit with my KLIM milk. I also learned to spell MILK backwards as KLIM...and for a long time I did not know which word should be MILK.

One of those childhood mis-pronunciations. and one of those strange mix-ups.

Osborne biscuits were not favoured by those having poor dental health or dentures. I learned to chew my biscuits with my molars....and I never bit them off using my front teeth!! When I looked at people with gold teeth eating the Osborne biscuits I would just watch the gold glistening and feel good just watching the process!! I was told I was very rude watching people like that....but then it became a habit...people watching...

Later in life I was amused by what a friend told me how he and his relatives have been calling the Osborne biscuits...:Biskut Cina Mati - because whenever there were funerals in his small town..the Chinese would place Osborne biscuits on the tables for mourners and relatives to eat...My friend and his play mates would sneak into the funeral venue and take the free biscuits!! Hence the name...

Photo courtesy of Florita

Osborne biscuits were served as breakfast in government boarding schools in the 60's and 70's. The students called them "hard biscuits"... or just "roti". and the tins which kept the biscuits in were sold at 50 cents to any one who like to put their noodles or other perishables in. These biscuit tins were also recycled as "luggage" for    travellers using long boats. From time to time we heard of people's lives being saved by these tins.

Many families continue to buy Osborne biscuits as part of their daily necessities because they do not get mouldy easily in the rural areas where refrigeration is not possible without electricity supply. And these biscuits do not get soften (masuk angin) as easily as other biscuits.

There are many other stories related to this biscuit.

Today the real or original Osborne biscuits are too expensive for the ordinary people like us.

(P/S  If and when you visit the Isle of Wight one day you would be able to see the beautiful Osborne House....)

December 18, 2011

Bruneian Gendang

The Giant Hypermarket in Bandar (DS) has an added attraction this month. A Malaysian Fair complete with good traditional musical bands.

When I was there I saw the Gendang Band having a huge audience...and a few guys came up to dance and sing...

It was a lovely and warm evening...and everyone was friendly. Some how fairs and music just make every one feel good about themselves and each other....

Thanks to the musicians for their fine music and singing...and for allowing me to take their photos!!

December 17, 2011

Brunei Songket - an actual loom within a shop!!

The Yayasan Buidling of Bandar Brunei Darusalam offers fantastic shopping facilities. But the most wonderful outlet is the mini-songket living museum right at the entrance (facing the river Brunei or Kedayan).

You can't miss it!! Here I have some photos to show you the splendid shop-cum-mini-museum of a living cultural skill!!

A view of the whole loom....

The beautiful loom for songket making....a legacy of women of olden days....

Beautiful threads...slowly turning into a beautiful piece of Songket...the pride of Brunei.

The skilful young lady and her loom...this may take her three months to finish.

Modern hand made silk  products from local people as well as foreign countries.
Lovely embroidery for the neck of the traditional Baju Kurong/kebaya..Hand made this costs a bomb and especially prepared for a wedding!!

Lovely view of the outside from the shop!!

Another shot of the loom...and the wooden threading wheels - isn't women's weaving skills amazing? And this has been with us for perhaps 20 generations or more??!

December 16, 2011

Nescafe in the Rajang River

The aroma from a freshly made coffee in a mug gives me that warm kick start for the day. It also helps me crank up my creative juices...and I am at peace with the world.

Some time ago on a trip to the Ulu (up river) on the Rajang River - the longest river in Sarawak and Malaysia I caught this scene....

Nescafe has come to the interiors of Sarawak in many different ways!!

The instant coffee is very versatile and easy to use. Water boiled in kettles over wood fire can easily help housewives prepare the sweet thin instant coffee.

A tray of coffee in tin mugs is a sure welcome to a weary traveller and long house dwellers know this only too well.

Coffee can become very expensive as one travels further up the river. I can live on dry biscuits and sugared water with just a a sprinkling of Nescafe !! Why very thin coffee? Sometimes it is just to camouflage the muddy river water...sometimes it is just housewives' budget conscious ways....A large bottle of Nescafe is always a good gift to friends and relatives in the Ulu when you visit them. And of course a few plastic packets of granulated sugar!!

Nescafe is such a good brand that in the Iban language nescafe is synonymous with coffee. "Ka nyirup nescape deh?" "Would you like some coffee dear?" (Many Kanowit Ibans cannot pronounce 'f" which becomes 'p' in their speech. So "fish" is "pish" with a little offence meant. So may be that is why coffee is kopi in this part of the world.....) But then we Foochows also say..Goh Bee...when we mean COFFEE.

I wonder how much the company is paying for this advertisement or is it for free?

This river boat or motor launch is really full by the looks of it...

Have a great weekend!! More Instant Nescafe Coffee?

December 15, 2011

Malay Union Club House @ Kampong Nyabor

I thank the MUC Facebook owner for the illustrations and photos. And would like to dedicate this post to all my friends from Kampong Nyabor and Kampong Datu...and as far away as Kampong Hilir and Kampong Nangka....we had a great time growing up in Sibu in the 1960's!!


Kampong Nyabor originally was the kampong which grew up on the east bank of Sg.Limbangan. It ran from Tong San Road to the Mosque at the junction of the then Queensway or Wireless Road (Dian Sian Road). Several bridges crossed the Sg. Limbangan to the Sibu town at Central Road and Bridge Road.

During very dry seasons the people of Sibu could be seen washing their clothes in Sg. Limbangan and also carried water in tins using either the simple bian dan (shoulder pole) or bicycles. Those were the days when even standpipes were rare!! And most homes depended on rainwater which were saved from gutters made from tin or aluminium sheets(?). We learned to be very sparing in the use of water then. Towards the middle of the 1950's we were fortunate to get piped water!! And the night soil men disappeared from our social life.

The Sg. Limbangan was thus the life support system of Kampong Nyabor in particular. Today it is all covered up...and people have forgotten about it...Two generations have grown up!!

One centre of activity of Kampong Nyabor (if not for all the Malay Community of Sibu) was the Malay Union Club which held activities throughout the year. It could be a Bangsawan or a Fun Fair...and it would be a simple musical concert!!

The loudspeakers were good...and the singing could be heard loudly in the area...Living only about 5 houses away I had the benefit of staying up late at night and listening to good music and occasionally very poor singing...All these stopped because of the Communist Insurgency and the curfews imposed by the then government...

When I first moved to Kung Ping Road. This was the nicest building at the beginning of the road. My father would take me to see the Bangsawan or Concert organised by the Malays of the Kampong. I remember my father winning a set of glass ware. My mother still has the glass water jug . I suppose in a small town like Sibu at that time...MUC was the most "happening" place for the locals. The Sibu Recreation Club was for the Civil Servants who played mahjong on weekdays and who danced on Saturday nights. Cocktails was often held by the Resident (Mr.Griffin for example) and bankers would have their drinks..."Whiskey or brandy sir?" I wonder if the mems had special cocktails like Bloody Mary or Long Island Tea then...Most probably a Singpoare Sling.

My house in Brooke Drive was four doors away from this building. I had a good time visiting the entertainment stalls when there was fun fair organised by MUC. The Bangsawan was a good training ground for me it taught me how to appreciate stage work and performances . I used to look at the ladies who were dressed nicely for the local "happenings". 

In 1976 I started teaching in Sibu and was often at the Art Friends Photo Studio. I was in Sibu 1976 till 1987...where all four of my children were born. Two were born in the Lau King Howe Hospital and two in private clinics. I used to hang out with students at the Art Friends...hence again I was associated with MUC for again 12 years of my adult life!! AFS was a good place to hang out with students.

The newest (4th) MUC building in Sibu. This is the MUC I do not know of now. Perhaps one day I will go and pay a visit and look at some of the old photos.

December 14, 2011

Red Faced Ducks @ Tamu Kedayan (Miri)

In December every year my mother would start worrying about getting a duck for the winter solstice festival or Turn Chek. Duck soup with mee sua was a special treat for all of us. And we really looked forward to the festival.

She could have a duck from our own back yard if she had been successful in rearing some during the year or she could buy a duck from the wet market which would be so much easier then. However she would save the $1.00 fee for feather plucking and all of us girls would gather together to pluck the feathers and use tweezers to pluck out the finer feathers..Ducks were really hard to dress!!

We had renegades in the family mind you....

But then the duck meat soup and the mee sua would be so memorable that we would forget the hardwork we put in. Today we call this social fun as "bonding". In the old days it was just sibling chores and perhaps just obedience.... But sometimes my mother would just shoo us off because we were doing a very bad job...she would say.."Go and study...let me do...can do faster...keli kelak (Foochow for talkativeness or chattiness)..nothing gets done....!!" But in retrospection kitchen work was so much more fun than work!!

Perhaps I was really learning about "effective habits from the kitchen". Do work quietly and efficiently and record breaking time...

The red faced duck or Muscovy Duck (Cairina moschata) is a large duck native to Mexico and Central and South America. But it has really found favour with the Foochows of Sibu. I am wondering whether the other races like this duck as much as we do. The Ibans are beginning to raise them in their villages.

I was this age when we moved from Pulau Kerto to live in Sibu Town..and my mother's herd of ducks  disappeared from our lives. Her ducks would swim in the high tide and we would fear the snakes coming in the evenings..and at low tide the ducks would be so happy foraging in the mud! We would watch all these from the stair case! These white ducks with yellow beaks are called Pekin Ducks or Chuong Nguang and they love to dip themselves beak down in the water to look for food. (Hence dabbing ducks). The scientific name for this kind of duck is Mallard. And they are found all over the world and in Sarawak.
We buy ducks like this in the towns of Sarawak...all wrapped up..Wrapped Cash and Carry!!
Three Happy ducks..posing for me..."How are you? How's your mother?"
This is one awesome male Muscovy faced duck which is handsome and is top of the peck!! This is easily 4 kg. If you cannot speak Iban (the lady duck farmer is Iban) you can see for yourself that 4.0 kg is written on the newspaper and all you have to do is RM16x 4= RM62.00 !! Pay up or try to bargain..and get it a round figure of RM60.00...Some foochows love to eat the red comb of the duck and find it exotic and gelatiny....Do you think that it will really give one longevity?

So whenever I see sights or scenes of ducks in the market at the end of the is a sign that the Winter Solstice is here...and mums would be getting their longevity noodles ready for dads to come home to....
Winter Solstice Festival is another reunion for families....for fathers to come home from work away from home or from Imperial Examinations in the olden days....and Tang Yuen would be boiled to sweeten the mouths of the children.....

Happy Winter Solstice Festival!!

December 13, 2011

Linoleum in Sarawak

Floors in a tropical country are beautiful. They can be made from wood or bamboo. The best are the hard woods like Selangan Batu or Belian.

The early 50's saw the arrival of floor lino and every one started buying them up from the Sibu shops like Tai Sing(Blacksmith Road) or Tai Lung (No.1 High Street). today in the 21st Century they are still being sold and made use of for different purposes. The linoleum sold in the shops for the Sarawak market is definitely not the same as those sold by businesses in the US or the UK.

Ours are all rolled up and you actually buy them Cash and Carry. In Europe a house owner would need to call an expert to install the linoleum tiles.

Any way...I am writing about the so called linoleum flooring material sold in Sarawak and I just wonder how many people can recognise these two photos. Enjoy some nostalgia!!

The linoleum patterns and colours are so different from those of yesteryears. And they are a little thinner too. But the prices are higher now. Today we use meters to measure the material. In my grandmother's time the shopkeepers used the Chinese measurement of Chien ( a little less than a yard) and later they used yard. So in fact I went through three systems of measurements. I am not at all is just a matter of good calculations and proper measurements .....

In the olden days young mothers would always buy a small piece of linoleum to be placed under the baby bouncer or NYUT..a piece of cloth would be used to catch the pee from the sleeping baby...Those were the  nappy-less days. The lino would keep the wooden floor dry and clean. And at times three or four children would just have to make do with their piece of lino  on the floor without any mattress or bedsheets!! How affluent we have become over the years!!

Do you know who invented this flooring material?

Fredrick Walton invented linoleum in 1860. He got the idea for his product by observing the skin produced by oxidized linseed oil that forms on paint. Later the Scottish flooring manufacturer Michael Nairn made it famous.The name linoleum comes from the Latin word linum which means flax and the Latin word oleum which means oil.

So when you have a chance to see linoleum covering a table or an uneven floor you would now realise how far it has travelled from Europe to our parts of the world.

December 12, 2011

Bread and Butter

"I depend on tuition for my bread and butter." If you say this in Malaysia you could raise eyebrows!! Not that giving tuition is lowly..but many would really take the idiom bread and butter literally. Bread and butter means source of regular income.

There used to be a bakery of the old kind in Sibu along Central Road. It was a "back shop" and the rental must have been like $50 per month. While most people would get their bread (Regular long and unsliced- this was called the block bread or loti teauh... or the round shaped roti baked in a round tin - this was called the wheel bread - chiar lun bao) in the morning my frugal dad would get the day old bread at half price . Dad was careful with his money all his life(albeit short) having been trained by his own family to be frugal. Having lost his mother at a young age also made him financially anxious all the time. He did tell us a few times "when I was your age I had to go over to my maternal grandfather Chong's with a small cotton bag to borrow rice to tie us mother was very very be careful with money always.."

Do you know that the best toasts came from the charcoal fires of Lok Huong Coffee Shop under the Palace Theatre? I was always impressed by the large amount of butter the kopi shop owner would slap on the toasts...the toasts were literally dripping with oil.!!..On the marble table would be a few hardboiled eggs and pulut pangang. I would sit at the table with my dad enjoying his bread and butter and this Kopi-o-kaw after our  marketing...

Aside from B and B as an idiom I have something to write about butter dishes.

Recently I bought a nice butter dish (something which delights me no end). And I really wanted to put a nice block/slab of butter in it. And indeed I was happy to get a slab of Golden Churn (made in Australia which is deemed halal).

My butter dish ( something went wrong with my camera)
My almost perfect French toast. I like the slightly burnt parts. Cheese hidden under the egg...
Another view of my butter dish
Examples of butter dishes around the world

Sometimes it is not the desire to own things that makes one buy an item.

For me it is a kind of connection I want to make with the past. Making french toasts in the morning. Having a cup of black coffee. Or gently spreading butter on a slice of nicely toasted whole grain bread....and then closing the lid on the butter dish.

It is a by gone era "thing"..but it makes me feel good inside. So why not?

Well I am not going into antique shops and buy 100 of them.....LOL!!!

Sibu Tales : Making Bah Gui from Scratch

The pioneering families of Sibu Foochows continued to practise the  adoption of girls from poor families who become their maids (slaves). ...