August 13, 2013

Tales from Sungei Merah : long koh and pong bian

1956-1963 - These were the last years of my grandfather's life and he lived in the big house in Sungei Merah. We visited him often.

My aunts remember most of all his special siesta - his tea time.He would want his Kuih from Sungei Merah. One of the aunts would cycle to the pastry shops to get either the long koh Both long koh and pong bian originated from Fuzhou, Fujian in China.  Long Koh actually means egg cake and is a soft cake which is actually a kind of cup cake. In the olden days, these were the only cakes availabe and loved by Sibu people. This is a breakfast snack found in Fuzhou too. However in Malaysia it is not a breakfast food,but a snack, for in between meals, or for an occasion.

or the pong bian for him.

Pong bian is a very crispy,pastry with a filling. Normally whenever we eat pong pian we will leave a lot of crumbs on the table and even on the flow. In Chinese pong bian means biscuit which crash, or just crash biscuit. Well at least it is very crumbly. My grandfather would eat his pong bian very slowly. It really showed that he was a very careful and purposeful person. Very very neat in his way of eating, with very good table manners. He must have had tea with Rev James Hoover very often.

ThisSungei Merah scenario now and those long ago days is not too different. Mr. Chieng was a young man forty years ago. Mr. Chieng said he was just a small boy in the late 50's and early 60's. He remembers my grandfather being a very tall and serious man. Mr. Chieng learned to make all these biscuits and cakes from a relative.

Whenever Grandfather had his eat, all of us had to be very quiet elsewhere. Aunty Ah Hiong must remember to put a pot of tea and a glass on the table, a small saucer for his choice of cake or biscuit. The rest of the biscuit or cake must be kept in an air tight tin, placed in the middle of the table.

Aunty Ah Hiong's favourite place was behind the stove, sitting on a low wooden stool.

I still remember the kitchen in my grandfather's house. It looked exactly like this. (This is the kitchen of  the Ting Villa in Sungei Merah)

Time has passed very quickly and many stories are slowly disappearing into the recesses of our minds.


Anonymous said...

eating pond bian also means to be angered or punished by some one. not sure why!

Ensurai said...

Yes, that's the Foochow saying..siah pong bian = to be scolded. I also don't know why. Just the dialectic metaphor.

Anonymous said...

That's the place my mum always stopped to buy bisuits, pong pian, etc on the way to or back from the airport crossing the Sg Merah brudge each time to the airport. The Sg Merah was really red then but it looks muddy and sad these days!!

Ensurai said...

Yes, Sungei Merah has changed a lot since my childhood. Once it was only alive during Ching Ming, when people would come from every where in the Rajang Basin to clean the tombs and the shops did a roaring business, just for one day a year. Later, with the arrival of Japanese cars, motor cycles, things changed. But the popularity of the pastry and biscuit shops remain. We should document these Lou Tze Hou so that future generation can remember their grandparents' breadmaker, pastry and biscuit makers. Thanks for visiting.

I really like the way you say.."It looks muddy and sad these days!!"

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