Did I ever mention that the work in the kitchen was relegated to me since I could remember.Being the 2nd in the family,I would take charge of the family daily dinner or lunch on weekends.I might be as young as 12 when I started being the kitchen apprentice.
From the simple frying of the fish I graduated to making curry. Mind you,back in those days there were no commercial and ready made curry powder. You have to sweat at the heavy stone grinder or batu giling.
Starting from grinding the ingredients prepared by mak ,I progressed to concocting my own.Home grind curry paste make such a wonderful curry and last till the last drop.
To supplement the curry,I would add slices of papaya. The papaya tree seems to know our hardship .Since money is tight,we have the papaya tree as our source of vitamin C.So we had papaya + ikan kembung curry, sambal belacan with papaya and sayur campur papaya spread on the mengkuang mat for lunch and dinner.
In fact the queer papaya tree bearing red mouth watering fruits was our life savior.Maybe without the constant supply of vitamin C our skins would be riddled with scabies scars.
Cooking and its perfection does not come easy. How could I forget the first trial at making asam pedas. I had added asam keping to the gravy. One .No taste.Two – still the taste of asam keeping could not be felt.
I think I have added the 7th or 8th piece when I thought I have a nicely cooked asam pedas. ( ingat Aziz Satar dalam Bujang Lapuk). It must be nice to serve my first pot of asam pedas!
Everybody was seated on the mat anticipating a nice meal.Father took a mouthful,threw up and rushed to the kitchen.He took the earthen pot of asam pedas and hurled it to the ground.
I could only looked in fright and bewilderment . I didnt know that asam keping with its potent sourness is time released. So a handful of asam keping is equalled to a bottle of vinegar.Imagine the sourness! So hell hath no fury as a father’s scorn. Lunch is dismissed.
There were more experiences ,some funny,some silly that I will relate them later. So keep reading. Bye.