(The Ching Ming Festival is coming up...and what are the memories we can share about our long departed loved ones?)
When we were young and growing up in Nang Chong my grandmother made a lot of Foochow Red Wine illegally.
One of our greatest fear was spotchecks made by the Customs and Excise Officers who would come by the long boats. Usually a tip would be sent out. A man would come riding his 22 inch high handle bar bicycle. And every one would start to keep their fragrant wines in safe places.
One day (and it was high tide) my grandmothe had just made her wine with red yeast. My third uncle had to throw the whole bag of rice and red yeast into the small stream next to our house. It was really a pity because the white sack was filled with more than 3 gantangs of glutinous rice and that was worth quite a bit of money. What was more important was the time wasted. Because rice wine brewing was always for a forth coming birth and therefore confinement.
The whole red bag was plonked into the stream and it sank into the bottom . The officers came to check. They could obviously smell the fragrance of fermenting rice and yeast but they could find no evidence. So they went in land to check on other homes. By the time they came out from the village the tide has gone down and on the banks of the stream was this huge patch of tell tale red yeast....It looked as if there was a murder and blood was splattered all over the stream's bottom too....
But luckily the uniformed men walked very quickly to their long boats and sped off.
What a relief!! My third uncle being a very timid man was truly shivering from head to toe. Grandma set on the Lang Dou...fanning herself - looking so cool like Double O 7!! She had that good face of a spy who came in from the cold. We loved our grandmother for her good senses....and of course her red wine!!
Below are jars and bottles of different kinds of wines I delighted in when I went to Yunnan....
I would like to give a toast to my grandmother and all our relatives who brewed their own wines for domestic use.
Until now wine brewing at home is still a hush hush business.......unlike in Yunnan where the local wines are well sought after tourist souvenirs!!
Kam bei Ngie Mah!! Kam Bei Sang Gui!! May your souls rest in peace..
(Thank you my friends who went to Yunnan with me...I have such lovely memories.....and I wished then I had my grandmother with me....she would have loved the wines...)