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Some edible things are just cut and dried June 29, 2007

Posted by asianpixmen in Activities, Culture, Food, Malaysia, People, Places.
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MOST of us eat processed foods. It is an inevitable part of our food chain system. Over here in the East, there is the processed food and there is the other “processed food.”

The first belongs to the category where the items are produced by factories and other machined buildings, with a little help from human hands.

Among the Chinese, dried foodstuff and other edible items are organised by traders and others who have made it their calling to make all housewives’ lives a little easier.

  Feel that your larder needs some ground pepper, dried cuttle fish or maybe some special cinnamon bits, then head for one of these specialised food shops. There are not many around but some towns and cities have them.

  Almost all these shops do thriving business because not only homes but restaurants and other smaller grocery shops get their supplies from these places. You may think that those packaged dehydrated seahorses or dried beetles are a terrible sight to behold but in the right hands, these items can either become a delicacy on a dining table or a life-giving potion for a discerning consumer.

  Personally, I love shops like these because there are only so much a hypermarket can stock. Some of the special products, they simply don’t have!

How life’s sometimes stacked up! June 27, 2007

Posted by asianpixmen in Activities, Food, Malaysia, People, Places.
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Those of us who work in air-conditioned offices do not realise what it’s like to work as a manual labourer in food courts.

Here’s are two visual depictions of the aftermath of a thunderstorm. The plastic chairs which are stacked up and stored away before the dark clouds came, are retrieved and taken out to the various tables.

 These chairs are not taken out one by one but about 25 to 30 at one go. That means stacking them up on your frail spine and bony back and walked like penguin for the next 50 yards.

So next time you see a waiter of foreign origin, spare a thought for his kind of occupation. Not everybody is born lucky. Some actually have to work hard for their next meal.

Golok – an utility as well as a hunting tool June 24, 2007

Posted by asianpixmen in Craft, Culture, Malaysia.
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Golok goes by numerous names in Southeast Asia. It is a cutting tool that spans centuries. Some call it parang, others call it a short sword, bolo or even machete.

A few may confuse it with kukri which is of a different design. The purpose is basically the same – cutting. Golok apparently found fame in the jungles of Burma during the Second World War when the British army led a campaign against the Japanese, and this long native knife called the parang or golok came in pretty handy.

The British Special Forces has a similar cutting implement called the Martindale No. 2 Golok.

In Malaysia and elsewhere in the region where communities that are agro-based, the golok is an all-terrain utility tool. It cuts branches of trees, slice meat, vegetables, dissect fish and as a hunting weapon.

It has served its purpose for centuries and continues to do so well into the 21st century. It may not be pretty but it’s quite handy when the owner is somewhere out in the boondocks or swampland where strange creatures lurk.

Today among some people, it has an Eastern flavour that romanticises its history and the traditions and cultures that the golok serves. At the end of the day, it is just an implement that is very useful if you are out there in the field.

  The blade material is usually carbon steel, not of high grade order like S30V or ZDP 189, or even VG-10 but when you need something to cut, it is there in your hands. There lies its purpose, as it was back in the days when sea pirates held sway over the South China and the Sulu seas.

Night-out Taiwan style June 22, 2007

Posted by asianpixmen in Activities, Culture, Food, Places, Taiwan.
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There comes a time in every person’s life when an individual has to partake in some kind of compulsory festivity or makan, for the sake of one’s country.

It fell on me one day several years ago during a trip to Taiwan. We were in one city that is well known for its flowers, cacti and other bushes and shrubs.

Lunchtime came and they ushered us, a group of about 12 into a restaurant. It has a nice ambience and the menu was steamboat, on an individual basis. The people were Malaysian and Singapore journalists.

As usual, one smart alec uttered why we are engaging in a polorisation exercise whereby Singaporeans were clustered together and Malaysians likewise. So being the maverick in the group, I “ordered” several in the group to mix and match.

It turned out to be a pretty good idea because we were forced to engage in some conversation that brought out some little known facts about each other.

Well, the Taiwanese food was excellent although I remember lamenting why there were no spicy stuff around. This comes from too much exposure to chilli padi and belacan!

Ipoh’s Kau Kai Cheong that we all love June 21, 2007

Posted by asianpixmen in Activities, Culture, Food, Malaysia, Places.
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It has been a long time since I have home to my old hometown. Those who remember Ipoh for what it was back in the 1960s, 1970s and maybe even part of the 80s will recall with much endearment, the charming old town that all of us Ipohites call Kau Kai Cheong.

The aroma of the white coffee permeates the air early in the morning during breakfast time. The roads are still the same although there are spots of development here and there.

Who can forget some of the makan shops that are sprinkled all over the interlinking streets. The curry mee that seemingly only Ipoh hawkers can cook up and the Kai See Sar O-Fun that has a special flavour unequalled even anywhere in the Peninsula.

Ipoh’s curry mee is much imitated but seldom equalled by hawkers stretching from George Town, Penang, to Petaling Street, Kuala Lumpur. Now and then, when I have the time, I will zip back home just to get a feel of what it’s like to taste the old, familiar stuff.

Life’s days should occur more often like that.