August 1, 2015

Mum Remembers Perilla of her Childhood Days

Two childhood memories of my mother . Here I am sharing them with you.

Photo from Google
When my mum,her siblings and her first cousins were young, they were often given a special concoction made from the simple perilla, called in Foochow Jie Ru Poh Hor (Perilla Mint) It was the common cure in those days. My mother remembers that each time they were sick, my maternal grandmother, and her sister in law would brew perilla mint as the concoction of the children to get well. And the whole kitchen would have that lovely minty aroma, very unforgetable and very pleasant. She feels even today, no scents for rooms could beat that perilla mint scent.

Sibu in the 1930's were short of doctors and the only hospital, Law King Howe Hospital was still in its infancy. And most parents, if they could help it, just use herbs to get their children better.

Since my grand aunt had so many young children and many workers for their rubber garden, the meals had to be taken care of by another helper.

My grand uncle, Lau Kah Tii, therefore asked his only sister's daughter and her husband to come to Nanyang to help out in the kitchen.

Each time my mother and I see a woman cooking, mum would remember her cousin from China who cooked for the large extended Lau family in Ensurai.She was indeed a cousin who dedicated her life to her uncle and aunty who brought her from China to Nanyang.
My mother remembers her as a kindly cook, who also had her own children to look after. It was not easy for her to cook food for more than 20 people every day. But she managed.

She would get up every day, carry water from the river and start cooking the first meal without fail. It was porridge for all. Lunch was exactly at noon and then dinner was at 5 p.m.before darkness fell. Whenever my mother remembers this part of her children she would have that dreamy look in her eyes. She would sigh and said, "What a good woman this cousin was. She never lost of her temper and she was so subvervient to every one. She had the real Chinese virtues of a lady. Today we do not have women of her breeding any more."

The Lau Mansion, the biggest house in the Rajang Valley for more than 4 decades from 1920's to 1960's had a wonderful kitchen manned by a wonderful cook from China. The painting here reminds my mother of the stove and the hardworking first cousin of her.

Today this aunt of ours is long gone. She was known as Ik Chiong Soh (her son was called Hii Ik Chiong), and only her grandchildren are still around today.

May God bless the hands which prepared food and medicinal brew for children in those long ago days.

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