Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Food Talk

I don't normally blog about food, but when you've only had a piece of toast and a cup of tea since breakfast, food is the first thing that comes into my mind when I opened my blog editor.

Here in KL, I try to stick to my regime of two full meals a day: if I take breakfast, I'd normally skip lunch. I'll still go for lunch when invited, but purely for social reasons. Today I skipped lunch and I also went for a jog in the evening. It's 7.30pm now, so you can imagine how hungry I am!

Breakfast is usually my favourite meal of the day. The choice of food for breakfast in Malaysia is much better than what they have in Indonesia simply because there's more variety of Chinese food here.

For breakfast, I'd normally go for some Chinese noodles or porridge. Indonesians would go for things like mee goreng, nasi goreng or bubur ayam. Here in Malaysia, the Chinese hawker fare is rich and varied: wonton noodles, beef/fishball/pork noodles (dry or soup), char koay teow, chee cheong fun, loh mai kai, char siew bun, pork/fish porridge, claypot yee mee, pan mee, hakka noodles, curry noodles, curry laksa, vegetarian noodles, loh see fun--the choice of noodles is nothing short of astonishing. It's something we Malaysians take for granted.

If you're old school like me, you can also go for the half-boiled egg and toast with kaya and butter. And if you feel bored with Chinese, you can always go for Malay or Mamak food--the nasi lemak, mee goreng, roti canai and tosai. Hey, there's even hawker-style Western food here in KL.

In Jakarta my favourite breakfast used to be kopi tubruk and Indomie rebus. But usually I would skip this meal. Lunch and dinner however were always occassions to look forward to: nasi timbel, soto betawi, rawon, gado-gado, soto sulung, soto Madura, nasi padang, nasi uduk, sop buntut, satay padang, nasi gudeg, nasi liwet--a fascinating array of offerings from all the different provinces in Indonesia.

I'm a porridge lover. Indonesians, unlike the Malays in Malaysia, are also quite fond of porridge--bubur ayam stalls are everywhere. The Indonesian porridge is usually served thick with a generous topping of crackers (krupuk).

Chinese always categorize food based on their "heatiness". Anything fried and spicy are usually considered heaty. When you have consumed too much heaty food, you'll need to balance it with something "cooling"--like herbal tea, which is served in many Chinese coffee shops.

I don't bother so much about the "heatiness" of food. Subconsciously I adopt the Indian system of seeing food in terms of the 3 impulses of nature: rajasic, sattvic and tamasic. But that will be the subject of another blog entry.

The one thing I like about Indonesia is that, you can get beer almost anywhere. Go to a Muslim Sudanese or Javanese restaurant, the local bir bintang is always on the menu. The only place to drink cheap beers in Malaysia are the Chinese coffee shops.

And that's where I think I'm going for dinner tonight: hmm...stir-fried venison cooked with ginger and spring onion, washed down with a huge bottle of Tiger beer...that's my idea of a good Chinese dinner in KL!

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