Food, Fasting & a Funeral

Tray of rice with dishes served at breaking-of-fast meal
Fasting is always linked with the breaking-of-fast and the breaking-of-fast often comes with an over indulgence in too much food.  I’m not complaining about having an abundance of food but my problem is how food is often wasted by diners who pile their plates with so much but still leave a whole lot behind at the end of the meal.

The sight of virtually untouched whole pieces of meat, fish or cakes left uneaten in the end, really saddens me.  This is proof of pure greed and sheer wastage.  I only wish these diners would take what they can finish and if there was any left over, they can share it with others to try to do justice to what they have taken. 

I guess such blatant wastage happens because diners are not paying for the meal and they do not feel the pinch on their pocket when they waste food.  Like any other person, I enjoy good buffets and a wide variety of food choices but I cannot tolerate such bad attitude like taking more than you can consume.  Maybe this is a trait ingrained from my grandmother’s disciplined upbringing because we were trained never to be [Cantonese] Ngan fhoot thow chak that literally means, “Wide eyes and narrow stomach” or being greedy for a lot while the stomach simply does not have the capacity for that much!

Tom Yam Fried Vermicelli at HK Cafe & Takeaway
In buffet etiquette, diners should take some food – like soup and appetizers or mains – and sit down to eat it before going back to the buffet to help themselves to the next course of food.  They should also use the serving spoon provided and help themselves to a personal portion, bearing in mind to considerately leave some food in the dish for other diners.  Eating at leisure and moving back and forth from the buffet should help diners to better digest their meal and allow them to sample a wide variety of food. 

Sadly I observed that no such etiquette applies at buffets served for breaking-of-fast meals.  Very often it like a free-for-all contest where who-dares-wins! 

Combination roast duck, roast pork and char siew
serving at Meng Meng
That is why I prefer sit-down meals for the breaking-of-fast with the food already served on the table.  This year I had the privilege to dine in such manner at two events – with underprivileged children and with needy women who are sole-breadwinners for their families.  It was both civilized and gracious as diners shared out what was served in the tray of food on the table.  While warm bowls of bubuh lambuk were served separately, there were also plates of dried dates, cut fruits and desserts of cake slices and local kueh to share.

I went for less food reviews this the month but I did not eat less.  In fact I discovered quite an amazing Tom Yam Fried Vermicelli in an unpretentious little eatery called HK Café & Takeaway tucked in the basement of Sutera Mall.  Finally, I’ve found a taste that is reminiscent of a similar dish served in the former Checkers Café in Melodies Garden!

Lillian [Left] and Florence Liew at Yoghurtlicious
Another delicious meal was enjoyed at Meng Meng Roasted Duck, a roast meat specialty shop that serves freshly cooked roast duck, roast pork and char siew.  Headquartered in Taman Johor Jaya, it has outlets in Taman Sutera Utama and Taman Mount Austin.  The picture menu is helpful and they even offer combination meat sets so that diners can savour several types of roasted delicacies in one meal.  There are choices of double-boiled soups like mother’s home recipe watercress soup, lotus root soup and black chicken herbal soup and side dishes of a variety of freshly fried vegetables. 

In my recent visit to the Taman Sutera Utama branch of Meng Meng with Florence and Lillian Liew, I was encouraged to try to practice using Mandarin to place my orders.  I know that learning a language is like swimming and I must get into the “water” to learn so I cheerfully plunged in.  It both confused and amused the poor waitress who struggled to understand me but all in, it was a successful attempt because we were served what we ordered with my broken Mandarin!

Warm yam pudding, Teochew Ornee at Ah Meng restaurant
Incidentally, our choice for dessert was in the adjacent shop, Yoghurtlicious that serves 100% fat-free frozen yoghurt as well as a selection of delicious mille crepe cakes and Hokkaido chiffon cup cakes.  Once again, I tried using my Mandarin to place the order but it was quite challenging to say that I wanted strawberry and cranberries toppings on my choice of frozen yoghurt! 

The Chinese waitress at the counter was a good sport with a sense of humour who let me make a fool of myself and in the end, she told Florence that she thought I was a, “wai kwok ren” or foreigner, probably because I was lousy in the language!

My yummy South Indian meal at a Raya "open house"
From Meng Meng, I went on to enjoy sumptuous meals at Ah Meng in Taman Iskandar – but not on the same day.  Although the names seem similar, there is no relation between the two.  Since discovering Ah Meng, our family has been back quite often for their signature fried vermicelli – the dried version served flattened on the plate – first made popular in San Low. 

Diners here seem to regulars who know what they want and if there was no table available, the able captain/waitress will take orders first to cut down on the waiting time.  Besides the tasty food, I also discovered that Ah Meng serves a (slurp!) smooth warm yam pudding or Teochew ornee dessert topped with pumpkin and gingko nuts that has since become a personal favourite of my young nephew!

When Raya rolled around, I accepted several “open house” invitations but I must admit that I enjoyed renewing my acquaintance with friends more than the rich food.  There is something about have too much of a good thing but I really do not mind having more of the South Indian specialties served in an Indian Muslim friend’s home!  There was even a “live” cooking station serving up freshly fried puri and vadai and it was my pleasure to sample a little of what to expect in their newly opened outlet that serves what is dubbed Countryside Cuisine… Yum!

Mouth-watering pickled fruits!
After all the feasting, it was only fair to take a break from rich food.  So for a change it is a treat to have a meal of oats mixed with cornflakes and cranberries or a simple tortilla wrap.  When I walked pass a stall selling pickled fruits, I couldn’t help but paused to look closer at the colourful range of preserved items as my mouth watered in natural reflex!

From food and fasting, I was also involved in a funeral – that of my friend’s dear pet dog.  Dogs are (wo) man’s best friend for very good reasons and the loss of such a dear companion is a traumatic experience for my friend.  When I learnt about her dog losing the battle to cancer, I went to be with her.  I know her dogs are her nearest and dearest companions and I can relate to her painful loss.  However much we try not to form a bond with our pets, very often it is quite impossible.

When she is ready, I will take her to the pet shelters to select a puppy or two to rear as guard dogs - rather than pets [she said!] so as to avoid forming such a close bond with them!  For now, she needs time to heal and come to terms with her loss before accepting a new 4-legged companion into her life.


1 comment:

  1. I share your sentiments on how much focus is placed on breaking of fast during fasting period. It defeats the whole purpose of fasting. Thanks for putting words to my thoughts on this.