Sunday, 27 September 2015

Childhood Tastes

I spent the first 7 years of my life in Alor Setar, Kedah, Malaysia. A slow-paced, clean and humid place.

Every now and then, my late Thai Grandmother and Mrs. H would introduce me to new food. Some were successes, others miserable torture for us all.

I remember the following "unique" tastes:

1. Petai
Petai beans served raw. I learnt to peel them off their green bean "tangkai", peel their white skin off, and split each bean into halves to check for worms. Fine motor skills training without formal Playschool, haha! 
Girl recently saw bunches of freshly plucked Petai in Cameron Highlands and could not imagine the trouble I took to enjoy such stinky delights. Halloween food, she said. She might be right.

2. Acar Ikan
Little Penang Café serves this halal dish and I am so thankful they do it well because this taste brings me right back to Kakak Asiah's wedding circa 1982. The wedding lunch included this dish and I remember its distinct pickle of turmeric, ginger and garlic taste.

3. Durian
Oh, this is one taste and smell I do not enjoy to this day. The Other Half and both my children do not enjoy this King of Fruits either. Lucky me! I would still obligingly treat my PIL to slices of durian cheese cake from Secret Recipe, but not eat any myself. I do not mind the smooth cheesy texture, and it stops there.

4. Budu/Tempoyak/Jering/Belacan
Acquired tastes, and I have yet to develop any liking for them.

5. Tapai
How and why on earth did they serve me a dessert containing alcohol?! It was sweet. And intoxicating. I did not know about the fermentation turning alcoholic if left too long until my FIL told me about it. Which is why we do not consume this now. Better be safe than sorry. 40 days of our prayers not being accepted is  ...just not worth it.

6. Steamed Sweet Corn with Coconut Shreds
A tasty tea-time treat! All of the corn kernel is picked off its cob then steamed. Mixed with coconut shreds and a pinch of salt. Served warm. Brings me right back to my childhood house where I last ate this.

7. Nasi Pulut with Thai Mangoes
The secret is in the coconut cream dollop, and Absolute Thai nailed it! I feel like I am in my late Grandmother's embrace/dodoi sarong when I eat this treat.

8. Kari Ikan Masin
Yums! I must look up this recipe! The prawns and long beans were magical. I remember having this packed lunch with rice one Friday afternoon after we moved to Penang. The school's old hall, flame of the forest blooms that had fallen onto green grass, vast blue cloudless skies, and my tasty lunch. It was a Friday, and school started at 2.30 pm!

What are your childhood comfort foods, my lovelies? Do you have specific memories attached to particular dishes or drinks too? Please do share!


  1. Salam,

    I started eating Tempoyak udang + petai since I got married. My MIL introduced me to the dish and I have since loved it and also since then I doscovered that I'm allergic to durian but not to tempoyak hehe.

    Anyway "Halloween food?" Very creative Girl

    1. Wa'alaikumsalam Puan Leila.

      Allergic to durian? You are the first case I know of, and do I learn a new thing or two from you as always! Thanks for sharing.

      Halloween, yes. Trick for her, treat for me LOL