May 14, 2015

Nang Chong Stories : Wo Rong

My grandmother had a special liking for wo rong, or little yams.

My aunts and uncles all grew patches of vegetables and for most seasons, they would also grow wo rong. It is not an easy crop.

Grandma would eat her wo rong with Pang Ngee Chiong, a special crab sauce. In the early 60's, everyone would grind their own crabs to make their own crab sauce. It was a happy time actually, making the sauce and knowing that one has a good year's stock for our own meals.

Wo rong was another matter. Not every planting would bring out the best wo rong. some years, the crop would fail.

The best meals would be the extra wo rong, freshly steamed, for the table. And every one would be happy eating it.

Sometimes my grandmother would only have the wo rong for her meal and she would tell stories of olden China to help us remember our ancestors.

She said during the Japanese occupation in China (she was stranded in China during that terrible period), any one finding some wo rong in the field would feel so blessed. It was like a miracle. That was the reason why she loved wo rong. It was one of the food which kept her and her relatives alive in China. She also said that sometimes when bandits were around, they had to keep the wo rong and potatoes hidden in their clothes and hide out in the hills. When it was clear, may be after one or two days, they would come back to their home. She came back to Sarawak in 1944, the first boat out of China after the war.

Normally, the Foochows would say. "we only have wo rong or huang nii to eat..." It actually means, there is very little to eat.

I have seldom come across any Foochow who does not like wo rong.

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