April 22, 2014

Sibu Stories : PIneapples at Bridge Road

Living in Sibu in the 1960's meant that we had many opportunities to eat plenty freshest of fruits from Kapit, Sarikei, Kanowit and even Matu Daro, as the riverine boats could bring them in, fresh from the farms within the day of harvest.

The Sarikei Pineapple, the special variety of  yellow skinned pineapples which have a conical shape, with varying sweetness, has been an iconic fruit for us in Sibu since then. Another pineapple known as Nenas Paun is a favourite amongst the Malay community. It is heavier, dark green in colour and rounder in shape. It is also good for cooking. Nowadays, a new pineapple, called the Nenas Sawit , has taken the state of Sarawak by storm.

However, Pineapple has lent its name to Sarikei where there is a  bright yellow and golden statue in the middle of the town. Sarikei  is known as Pineapple Town of Sarawak. The claim is very correct because it is still producing a lot of this pineapple. And Sibu continues to enjoy the fruit.
Photo from Sarikei Time Capsule (Thanks to Daniel Yiek)

This special fruit, the Sarikei Pineapple, today is grown in Miri at Saba Orchard amongst many other pineapple gardens in Miri and its outlying areas. But the pineapples grown here are very sweet, probably due to the alluvial soil. Those grown in peat soils are less sweet according to a pineapple expert. Hence the Saba Orchard calls it the Lambir Pines, as the soil in Lambir area is different from the soils of Sarikei, thereby creating its unique taste and texture.

The Sarikei Pineapples like all other pineapples have little flowers when they first grow.. In fact not many people have seen the pineapple flowers. Most flowers from the Sarikei/Lambir pines are lavender or purple in colour. I have to find an orange flower with my lenses.

The Sarikei/Lambir Pines have slender leaves and have more thorns than the Nenas Paun, which is a different variety.

A third variety Sarawak people enjoy in Miri are the special Nenas Sawit.

And finally, the most expenive pineapples are the Bario Pineapples which cost RM8.00 at present market price, because they air flown from Bario. This special pineapple looks like the Nenas Paun but being grown specially in the hilly soils of Bario, and is a different variety because of its texture and sweetness, it is known famously as Bario Pineapples.

But I would always remember how we had those pineapples from Sarikei at RM5 ringgit for SIX!! And the boat men would even skin and give them to us with the stump still one....those healthy teenagers with good teeth would eat them like a huge lollipop after a good game of hockey in the evening.

Pineapples are cold fruits which can even encourage miscarriage according to Chinese beliefs. Those young and newly married women a long time ago were not encouraged to eat pineapples.When menstruating Chinese girls are not allowed to eat pineapples.

The  fruit may be eaten after surgery to reduce inflammation. In fact there is some research on bromelain, purified from pineapple stem or fresh juice.." provided in the diet over six months, decreased the severity of colonic inflammation in mice with experimental colitis.[..... has some potential against cancer mechanisms "(Wikipedia)

But today, it is considered one of the best fruits in the world and is often used  as part of salads, rojak and cooking of fish and meat. Eaten on its own pineapples are awesome. When cooked, I love it in curries and even stir fried with tumeric and lots of onions!!


Anonymous said...

Remember there is a bridge between the RPA and the old mosque. There were always boat loaded with pineapple. Maybe from peat swamp ares like Matu Daro, etc in those days when there was no raod connection to those areas.

ah ngao said...

hi..! I'm back(still a little bit wobbly...) .you take great pictures as usual and younno,i still loves our local Paun pineapple - more juicy and the fruit is less rough in the finishing. its so costly now in Kuching - i mean pineapples.

Ensurai said...

Yes, there was this wooden bridge. At night the little house boats had kersosene lamps...and the fruit sellers would lay the pineapples on the bridge, or have them hanging from the wooden railings of the bridge...All those are still very precious memories of mine..The pineapples ranged from small to big. The bigger ones were strung together, 2 or 3 together for 2 dollars (we used dollars then) and the small ones were 2 or 3 for l dollar!!

Ensurai said...

Welcome back Ah Ngao...In Kuching Nenas Paun are precious commodities..it is very juicy yes...Nenas sawit is very nice too. God bless. Hope to see you more often!!

sintaicharles said...

A very informative write-up. Eating Sarikei pineapples is addictive.

Ensurai said...

Hi Charles, Thanks for your comments. Yes,eating Sarikei pineapples is addictive. I have a friend who can eat pineapples every day when it is in season!! And when the pineapples are not in season, he will buy tinned pineapple juice from Brunei....I cooked a lovely pineapple fried rice yesterday. I impressed myself!!

Blogger said...

New Diet Taps into Innovative Idea to Help Dieters LOSE 12-23 Pounds in Only 21 Days!

Sibu Tales : Making Bah Gui from Scratch

The pioneering families of Sibu Foochows continued to practise the  adoption of girls from poor families who become their maids (slaves). ...