Showing posts from June, 2007

Recently Lingering Inner Soul Food From Outside The Home

1. The curry puffs that cousin Lai Han got from a stall in a coffee shop in SS2, Petaling Jaya, Klang Valley
2. Curry laksa ala Vietnam from Hurstville, Sydney
3. Nasi lemak combination with Chinese roast chicken cuts from the Killerney Road Cafe, Sunway Damansara, Klang Valley
4. Roast suckling pig from Restaurant Yat, Section 14, Petaling Jaya, Klang Valley
5. Straits Chinese choon pniah (deep fried spring rolls) from the Penang Swimming Club
6. Ampang Road yong tau foo (vegetable-stuffed bean curd concoctions) from Jalan Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur
7. Pumpkin seed and apricot flavoured bread from Shellharbour Stockland Shopping Centre
8. Warm broth of black glutinious rice with a touch of coconut milk, from Thornleigh, Sydney

Muddy Confluence

The rains still come down at twilight
With the ease I gathered back with my mates
No thoughts at all on what could have been my delight
Had I stayed on in this tropical valley bed

What is reality, what are impressions
As I lay awake, with rekindled memories
of fondness, food and friendship as utmost expressions
of the most important of life's desirabilities

Countless hours of routine and persistence
melt into precious moments of reunions
The ordinary becomes special and not existence
The circumstance of a unique communion

To savour forgotten experiences
To sit at the same table
To ride on the same journey of shared nuances
And to realise that it was not before possible and able

Kopi Tiam Kopi Tiam

The half-boiled eggs, still whole in their shell, come served with soy sauce, pepper and salt to choose as garnishings. Sitting beside them are squares of two-layered toast, sandwiching a rich and inviting layer of spread called the kaya, To complete the trifecta in a winner of a breakfast is a small cup of milked coffee, looking as brown as the sandwich spread.

To get to this set of food, there was a queue of around 20 persons, all willingly waiting for their dose of this traditional mix, based on British colonial, Straits Chinese and South Indian tastes. In the sixties and seventies, this was the ubiqutious expected fare in down-to-earth coffee shops (kopi tiam) along every respectable main street in countless towns and villages in Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore. Such coffee shops still exist, but here I was in an ultra modern shopping complex called The Curve in the Klang Valley of Malaysia, and the coffee shop I was in was a shop lot on an upper level of the building and not str…

Dining at Benji's

Banjo Patterson is an Australian icon. His childhome home by the banks of the Parramatta River in Gladesville still stands, its sandstone walls as solid and sturdy as his resonating poems of life in a century gone past. Patterson's grandmother, Emily Barton, was a literary genius in her own right, but the grandson remains more significant in heritage, for it was him who penned The Man From Snowy River.

On a nippy winter's night, I was privileged to dine in the warmth of the Banjo Patterson House and with my cousin Susan and her hubby Boo Ann's family right in front of a much appreciated working fireplace. The window sill beside me led to a view of shiny lights by the riverbank, marred only by swaying palm leaves on a windy Saturday evening. The menu has been tastefully littered with verses from Banjo's most famous poems and images of his youthful countenance from another era.

Would Banjo have recognised the menu served? Maybe not the main dish of baked duck breast or t…

Rainy Days and Mondays

I am sitting in my office, looking out through the window at the extreme wetness outside, the result of incessant pouring showers for the whole afternoon today. Last night I could hear the whoosh of the sweeping rain at home. More than just the water, the winds have carried the weather, dominated what we wore and made temperatures plunge further than the level they normally are at.

After several years of drought, the rains are back. I was still trying to re-arrange an appointment with Sydney Water to carry out a water-saving check for my house in a Sydney suburb. Apparently the plumber assigned to the case could not make it this coming Monday, but I was not told about it until, on a hunch this afternoon, I decided to phone them to confirm the appointment. The vagaries of calling in a tradeperson in Australian society can sometimes be even be more unpredictable than forecasting rainy weather.

Flying into Sydney on early Monday morning this week, I was treated to an unbelievable -and ra…