July 9, 2016
Sibu Tales : Rice Milling, Rice Selling, Rice Consumption
One of my grandfather's first adventure into business was setting up a rice mill in Hua Hong Ice Factory and later, Mee Ang Sawmill in Bintangor. These two businesses brought him a certain kind of wealth.
My father and his siblings were able to go to school in Sibu and later in China. While almost all the girls were also well educated. Several of my aunts were educated in Singapore and two received scholarships to study in the United States.
I was born in Hua Hong Ice Factory in Pulau Kerto and did enjoy the smells of engines (for ice making) and the sweet smells of rice being milled until we moved to Sibu. Perhaps that started my attachment to rice milling and rice trading as a whole.
In the past most Foochow women would prefer what they called "Bulook Gang" rice. I have never been able to name this rice, the rice I ate when I was a child. Bulook Gang is a fine, soft local rice.
The other rice is Paloh rice, from the swampy region of lower Rajang. We used to buy rice by the Gunny Sacks!! Cheaper by the sack so to speak. The Foochows would also put rice on top of their family expenditure. So a family felt good if there was lots of rice on the table.
Later I heard of friends' family eating Hill Rice, Thai rice, Chinese rice, Cambodian Rice, Vietnamese rice and the like. Very recently many families have started to buy Fragrant rice, Bario Rice,etc
As a Sarawakian I enjoy getting to know what kind of rice is cooked in the kitchen, without being offensive to the cook..and I do love to smell the fragrance of cooking rice. The aroma of cooked rice makes one feel safe and comforted. Many people may not understand my thoughts.
Rice bubbling in a port is such a comfort to witness....All is well and there is at least a bowl of rice for the day.
Peace on Earth and Goodwill to all mankind.