October 27, 2012

Nang Chong Stories : Kunday or Mashed Dabai

I wonder if you ever feel deja vu whenever you make a dish or buy a special item. I felt as if my grandmother was next to me when I prepared the kunday the other day for my children. I felt as if it was a moment I was sharing with my grandmother...separating the dabai from the seeds and mashing the flesh with a fork. The only thing missing was a ceramic jar!!

Years ago in the Nang Chong Village of Sibu ,food was very basic for the rubber tappers. There was no KFC or Sugar Bun. No fast food and no take aways.

Melanau and Iban fishermen paddled their boats and sold fresh fish from their boats from Rantau Panjang to Sg. Bidut and down to 16th Company (Sek Lurk Kong Si). Fresh Toufoo was made by two or three men who lived in Nang Chong and some of it was sold at Chung Cheng School canteen. Most of the villagers were subsistence farmers. Once a week these villagers would take a motor launch ride to go to Sibu to source for more imported food and other supplies.

this kind of life changed dramatically because of political upheaval due to communistic insurgency in the 1960's and 70's. The life of the people changed completely when roads were built in the 1980's and 1990's. The youths of those days moved out of the villages scattered along the Rajang and a real migration of the Foochows went out to Miri and Bintulu and even Limbang. in the 1990's many families moved to as far as Kota Kinabalu and Tawau.

My grandmother who lived all her life in Nang Chong after arriving from China at the age of 5 was saddened by the atmosphere of an "emptying village" and she lost not only her eyesight (glaucoma) but her appetite for life and food!!

As she turned 82 she started recounting the tales she knew and told stories to whoever came near her. We loved listening to her stores of the olden days Sibu - the good , the bad, and the ugly (occasionally) . Most of us kept her stories in our hearts.



7 comments:

Anonymous said...

is un uncle the chinese school teacher in Sacred Heart School known as Lau Pan Sing whose wife was running a clinic?

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Dear Anonymous,
No this uncle of mine was not well educated. He was a tong kak ko (wharf labourer) and then a road construction worker...His wife is still living but in Lucky Road in Sibu. Thank you for reading my blog and stories...

Anonymous said...

The babai paste colour does look impressive!!

Anonymous said...

Sorry, should be, the dabai paste colour doesnt look impressive!!

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Dear Anonymous, it is a purple colour that you need to get used to...it is like eating authentic crab sauce of Sarawak...or black soy sauce...I know purple aubergine turns a lot of people off but we love it...takes time.

Ann said...

how come dabai become such an important product. People pay journalist to promote it LOl, I love it too, can eat without eating anything else.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Now dabai very expensive. High price= more respect = more coverage in media...Star Dabai...

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