February 11, 2015

Nang Chong Tales : Rearing Turkeys

It was interesting how villagers were not so keen to adopt new ways of farming or new animals to rear besides ducks, and chickens.

My grandmother was not even keen to rear goats which were deemed very naughty and destructive. The British government had tried to encourage the Foochow farmers to rear goats and even cows but the folks were not keen because they were more enthusiastic about growing vegetables , rearing pigs and having a fish pond.

Protein was easily available from the river which was teeming with fish and prawns. Uncle Pang Sing was able to throw a net in the evenings and he could easily get a pailful of river prawns and fish. Using a fishing rod would be a weekend hobby and all my cousins would have a good weekend casting their lines. It was a popular "down river" kind of weekend hobby, if they did not want to catch a movie in Sibu.

Rod fishing by the riverside was actually quite a great and rewarding hobby as father and sons would bond and the end result would be a good fish dinner.

Back to turkey rearing. One year my uncle was given four turkey chicks to rear by another town uncle. Perhaps it was the Agricultural Department which was trying to give away chickens and smll turkeys to farmers. Uncle Pang Sing was only too happy and Grandmother was looking forward to having , at last a turkey for Christmas, something she had heard about American ways from the missionaries.

She thought that having a turkey for Christmas would be a great idea. When Christmas came and the turkeys were big enough for the slaughter, my aunt and my grandmother were a bit flustered because they did not know how to prepare the birds.

They never had an oven to roast and roasting and baking were not Foochow ways of cooking then.

So grandmother decided that the bird should be braised with Earn Chou.

The resultant turkey , all covered in red, was a disaster. The meat was too tough and not palatable.

Grandmother gave us one of the three turkeys to cook and my father sent the turkey to Sibu Recreation Club where the cook had it done the Cantonese way. The other one was not wanted by any one, so grandmother had it chopped into small pieces and cooked in soy sauce.

From what I heard my cousins took a long time to finish the turkey and in the days of no refrigeration, quite a bit was thrown out.

That was the end of our Foochow attemp of raising turkeys.

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