Saturday, May 9, 2009

Intermission: The Malay Male Family Values

Tomorrow - well, today, actually - I'll be heading off to Kuantan. For various reasons.

Research, KADIR!

- Matinya Seorang Patriot

Research, for a few projects, and also to get some air.

I have been cooped up in my apartment in Bukit Jalil for far too long. Had food delivered to me every day from the cafe downstairs.

Other than that, I've been to the Press Club and to various meetings. A few months of just a few places. I long for the beaches of Kuantan. Not the bitches. In Kuantan, I have to behave. The way I see it, my father taught half the town or something, judging by how many people go up to him and greet him as 'Cikgu'.

Held an almost-farewell dinner for some of my friends at Basil a few weeks ago. The exodus continues. I like Basil. Reasonably-priced, but fantastic food. Some of the best Thai dishes in town.

Amarin Thai is a bit pricier than Basil, but is actually second in terms of food.

Only idiots will believe that more expensive stuff means it must be good.

Like Bangsar Sea Food. Not because it is linked to the former 'Adversary' - Datuk Kalimullah. Simply because I don't think it is as good as the now-closed Kelana Jaya Seafood Center. Which priced their dishes below Bangsar Seafood's rates.

Or Phuket's Chiang Rai Seafood - Blue Star, Red Chair, et al.

Kelana Jaya Seafood had honey-fried squid which tastes like crackers. Sad it's gone. Their Australian Crab is also fantastic. Claws as big or bigger than my hands.

Lanna Thai in Bangsar is not bad. Try the Yum Plar Duk Foo. I hate fresh-water fish. In fact, I don't like fish. Period. But I love that dish. It's catfish, steamed, shredded and deep-fried. Almost as much as I like Ikan Goreng Layang or whatever the fuck at House of Sundanese.

My taste in recent years have gravitated towards Malay and Thai food. Restoran Puteri has some excellent Siput Sedut.

I used to love Chinese food, until I started controlling my blood pressure. General Tso's Chicken is a fantastic dish, if not for the fact that I need to drink a glass of water after every bite.

Chee came over recently to deliver Salted Chicken, which he says is similar to Beggar's Chicken.

I myself have cooked Emperor's Chicken before. Which I believe could be improved if I roasted it for half an hour or so, after steaming.

The Javanese, I believe, has an answer in the form of the curiously-titled Ayam Penyek. I have never tasted it, and don't care if I never will.

In Kuantan, the best food item is the legendary Roti Sungai Lembing. The old Chinese dude is dead, but the memory of his perfect bread, baked in a petalite and feldspar oven remains. The low-infra heat making it so fluffy and delicious. Best bread ever. Fuck French bread, baguette's crusts are too hard. Fuck panini and the Italian's cheating on toasting the shit.

No pain d'or can taste as sweet as Roti Sungai Lembing.

There are places to have seafood in Tanjung Lumpur, I believe. And dried seafood somewhere along the beach.

One thing for sure - Kuantan has better food than overpriced KL.

Have a gander at their Pasar Ramadans. You can smell the ingredients in the food a few hundred metres away.

Pandan leaves and coconut milk and stuff.

Eastern-style Kuih Akak, Apam Goreng, Cara Berlauk, and REAL Murtabaks thick as a book.

I think I'll go buy some crabs and have my mother cook them. Or fresh-water prawns. Huge things that live where the crocs do.

And fresh vegetables. I enjoy eating oversized kangkongs that look like sawi or kailan in width. Our land, is next to a huge swamp. Perfect for growing vegetables.

One of my favourite Chinese uncles plant bitter gourd and stuff on his land. last time we went to his house, he gave us a cartload of produce.

My Chinese family came to Malaysia around 100 years ago. We came from Guangdong or Guangzhou. Primarily Cantonese.

My grandfather - I am not sure what his old job was. I do know in his twilight years, he reared thousands of chickens and kept over 40 dogs. I don't know why. He also kept many bonsai trees.

The rest of the family - most of them - opened car workshops. Some are farmers. My late uncle, the second in the family, was a police officer in the old police force. He killed Communists.

Our family agree on this. If there are Communists or Communist worshippers in Malaysia, the first thing we're going to do is apply for shotgun licenses and start killing them. Slowly. Kneecaps first. Then, dick. Then, a 12-gauge to the stomach.

In the extended family, we have Buddhists, Malaysian Buddhists, atheists, agnostics, a few Muslims, some Christians and whatever else.

The atheists would frequently make fun of everyone.

"Apalah Chinese New Year cannot sweep. Stupid."

Some have made quite a nice living for themselves. Others, muddled on. To ripe old ages. The men in the family die later. Usually over 70 years. My grandfather died at 90++, I think. He wasn't sure either. Cause he did not know the accurate year of his birth.

The Malay side of the family has sharp contrasts. Some of the people in my family are or rather were successful civil servants. One was an ambassador of sorts to the UK and lived there for years. One grand-uncle was a former Pahang MB. And of course, there is Najib, also a former Pahang MB - the youngest in history. Whom I've never met.

Some of the Malay side of the family did not do very well. Mostly kampung folk doing village-y things. Some scrape by for a living. One guy used to be a drunkard, as the gossip has it, but is now a repentant PIS member I heard. A cousin who was involved in a terrible accident years ago.

The last remaining survivor of my Malay grandfather's siblings lives somewhere between Kuantan and Pekan, I think. Or perhaps near the ebach. My family are either by the beach or near a durian tree.

I hate my mother's village in Tebing Tinggi, simply because I do not see any reason to set up a settlement around a huge hole in the ground. Which is what it is.

Legend has it that my grandfather fought for the independence together with Tun Razak. And after August 31 or May 13, depending on who is telling the story, he was consulted by the late PM and was asked to go to KL and be a politician. And make tonnes of money, I suppose.

He declined. Having doomed the family forever from being millionaires, from siphoning the Government's money, he went and tended to his durian trees. There are, I believe, some acres of durians somewhere in Jerantut with the family's name on it.

If ever my branch of the family were to get half of that, we can never sell it. EVER.

The fuck? What was I saying?

Ah. Nevermind. I need to get some rest. Tomorrow, more writing. And then, off to Kuantan.