January 31, 2014

Nang Chong Stories : Days of Peaches

Every festival in Nang Chong my grandmother Tiong Lien Tie would always make sure that she and Uncle Pang Sing bring back supplies of tinned peaches and various other imported vegetables from Sibu. Whenever she went to Sibu to sell her rubber sheets, she would always bring back a load of supplies for the family.

A sack of flour, some cooking oil, tins of kerosene, tinned peaches, salted fish and salted eggs, aerated water, perhaps a fresh brood of chicks and ducklings. Whenever the motor launch stopped at the floating jetty, we kids would rush out to the motor launch and form a boisterious group of welcoming committee for grandma.

One would take her umbrella from her hand, and one would take her basket from here. The older ones would start unloading the stuff from the motor launch amidst the din of the engine.

We were the envy of the other passengers because grandmother was a generous provider and she would have the budget especially for a festival feast. And of course if Uncle Pang Sing was home, he would single handedly carry all the boxes of supplies on his shoulders, wharf labourer style.

I had some memorable festivals during the holidays with her in sanba style. (Village style)

Grandmother was so generous to all the children. I remember receiving an egg for breakfast in the morning, a very usual gift from her and uncle Pang Sing as I was the "visiting grandchild". But all my cousins who were then much younger than I were happy with their share of home made kampua with just soy sauce and a bit of omelette and ikan bilis.

Milo or Ovaltine would be made for every one, and sweetened with Milkmaid Condensed Milk. Sometimes grandma would crack an egg into her hot milo to make her special Foochow Egg nog. I would never drink that. I had lots of fear for soft boiled eggs for years!!

But from all her supplies, the most memorable was the tinned peaches.

After the feast of several different dishes (duck, chicken, pork, noodles, bah kui, fish, meat balls), Uncle Pang Sing would open a few tins of peaches and longans.

50 years later, from my Nang Chong days, we eat peaches in a different way.

We kids would have a cup filled with several slices of the peaches and sit on the balcony and enjoy the sweet goodness!!

How wonderful it was to be young, to be given food by our elders who knew exactly what to buy for us.

We never knew in those days how our lives would change so tremendously from one decade to another.

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