October 16, 2015

Sibu Tales : Over night bread

My father was a man of good taste, quiet disposition, taciturn and a great reader who kept to himself most of the time. He actually did not like to socialise with people. At one time, an uncle came to his work place and said, "Why are you so happy sitting on a rock like that?"

My father answered,"There is a lot of peace sitting on a rock, over looking my workers in the quarry. It is better than sitting on a chair, which may be removed from under you by crafty men!!"

My father was all for peace and harmony, reflection and kindess to others. His pet hate, if he had any, for people who were usurpers. He had studied too much Chinese history.

One of his joys was food. And he once told a friend that one of his favourite meals was breakfast. He would buy eggs from his good friend Mr.Cheng Kuok Kong,who lived along Queensway. His bread was always from Tiong Huo Hin, his cousin. He would buy bread in the evenings , on his way back from Kiong Ann Brickyard, and later Takang Quarry in Sg. Aup.

We did not have a toaster in those days, so he used his own home made rack, made from three small pieces of iron rods which he placed over charcoals. He could either use the Foochow stove or the small portable charcoal stove.

I remember how he and my mother would together make the toasts at the back of the kitchen in the morning, chatting softly and perhaps whispering a few jokes to each other. My father was conservative and he made sure that we kids did not listen to some tales not "fit for our ears".

His breakfast eggs were always done in the Foochow way, i.e. eggs placed in an enamal cup and boiling water poured into the cup. The eggs would stand in the hot water for about 6 minutes and the perfect half boiled eggs would result.

He would get up as early as 5 a.m. in the morning. And he would always make  the first cups of coffee for  himself. He would bring up a cup of coffee for my mother upstairs .

My mother was allowed to be in the bed room for a longer period of time so as not to rouse the younger children and only later my mother would come downs stairs to pour the cooled  boiled water into the sunkist bottles for the day. She would later boil another kettle to fill the two Chinese hotwater flasks. The Foochow stove would have the live coals until time for my mother to cook lunch. It was her way of ensuring that the fire did not have to be started all over again.

The morning would be half gone by the time my mother sat down for her newly toasted bread, with kaya and butter. And we would all be in school. Dad would have gone to work in Sg. Aup too.

WE would never throw away bread from Sg. Merah for some of the overnight bread would still be so edible the following day. Sometimes my father would even buy the left over bread from his Hainanese friend in town. They would also make such nce extra toasts for the family.

Mornings were good times for her and the younger children at home.

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