March 6, 2012

Nang Chong Stories - Head Hunters and Barbarians Heads

My Third Uncle (maternal side) was a good  Christian who accepted my choice of husband . Even though my Foochow relatives feared the idea of my marrying a descendant of headhunters he (who spoke good Iban) was very humourous about the initial misgivings...

He had after all made so many barbarian heads...and we have eaten a lot of these mantou...




When growing up in Nang Chong Village we had very few imported food. We had special tinned food as usual. The refrigerator was unheard of in those days and it was not really necessary to have one because we had so much fresh food from our surroundings.

Bread was not even an every day food!!

But in the evenings during those long ago days when lots of grand children came to visit my grandmother Third Uncle would always bring out a whole bag of flour to make his huge buns or mantou!!

Third Uncle had 8 children of his own. There would be 6 "other kids" coming to visit. So the wooden house would be filled with running footsteps (going up and down the stair case and running across the huge upper floor)..That's a wonderful sound I can still remember.

But the fragrance of cooking mantou in the huge kuali is something I can never forget!! It was JUST SO GOOD!! And all of us who used to visit grandmother Lian Tie and my Third Uncle would remember the buns we had for evening supper! Mantou with Golden Churn butter dripping down our hands...while we tried to bite into the hot steaming buns...That's love...



My fellow blogger's mantou (Sunflower recipes)
My version of a "beginner's Mantou" Cut to check the quality of the dough...This is good and ready for another kneading and soon steaming....
Wikipedia photo
My friend Meng Lei (Rajang Basin Blog owner) reminded me of the origin of Mantou...the story is here to share with you....so that you can see the connection...


A popular story in China relates that the name mantou actually originated from the identically written and pitched, but more heavily pronounced word mántóu meaning "barbarian's head".
This story originates from the Three Kingdoms Period, when the strategist Zhuge Liang led the Shu Army in an invasion of the southern lands(roughly modern-day Yunnan and northern Burma). After subduing the barbarian king Meng Huo, Zhuge Liang led the army back to Shu, but met a swift-flowing river which defied all attempts to cross it. A barbarian lord informed him, in olden days, the barbarians would sacrifice 50 men and throw their heads into the river to appease the river spirit and allow them to cross; Zhuge Liang, however, did not want to cause any more bloodshed, and instead killed the cows and horses the army brought along, and filled their meat into buns shaped roughly like human heads - round with a flat base - to be made and then thrown into the river. After a successful crossing, he named the buns "barbarian's head" (mántóu, 蠻頭, which evolved into the present day 饅頭).



So do you see this connection?

8 comments:

William said...

hahaha... good reading

Anonymous said...

its really nice and yummy eaten with belly pork cooked in soya sauce as in whts inside the kompia...

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Thanks William...I am sure you have eaten a lot of Barbarian Heads in your life and you never realised it.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Yes..the mantou is an accompaniment to pig's knuckles in thick soy sauce...and belly pork slices...yum yum...

Anonymous said...

Your story reminds us of family love & sharing. We had so little then yet so much to share. I am sure all of us have our own "comfort food" stories to hold & remind us of days gone by.(inserted by a friend)

Ann said...

I didn't recall we had mantou in Sibu. After 1949, my uncle in China was sent to manchuria for punishment as a landlord. he learned to eat Mantou, after a decade in the cold North, and won't eat rice. My Ah kung used to scold him.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

The mantou in Sibu was simply baos without the filling...lots actually. Later..the original shape came to Sibu. I had lots of them in KL..and now all restaurants have Mantou...Barbarians' heads..

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Dear anonymous..simple home cooked food especially noodles and baos are our comfort food which we can never forget in our lives ...for as long as we live.

And they wake up our senses and make us happier...this is the role of our comfort food.