Let Us Eat Cake

Friday, June 19, 2009 Liyana Hanim 1 Comments

Before I start this post,I would like to show you this saying by Datuk Lat,a cartoonist who’s works my mum exposed to me when I was a kid..I thought that his saying was very on point and true.Very very true.

Apabila kita ketawa,kita mentertawakan diri sendiri.Mentertawakan orang mudah,tetapi mentertawakan diri sendiri,itu yang lebih susah.Dengan ketawa kepada diri sendiri,kita belajar jadi manusia yang menyedari kelemahan yang ada.Menyedari tidak bermakna kita menerima.Ia jadi jalan pertama untuk kita memperbaikinya-Datuk Lat.

English translation—
When we laugh, we’re laughing at ourselves. Laughing at others is easy, but laughing at ourselves, that’s hard. By laughing at ourselves, we learn to become human who realize our own weakness. Realizing doesn’t mean accepting. It’s a step for us to fix it-Datuk Lat.

I’ve just finished reading Let Us Eat Cake: Adventures in Food and Friendship by Sharon Boorstin.No,the book is not about cakes or how we should eat it. The book is about an account of true stories on Sharon’s life & her family and friends& how one way or the other, food brought them all together through sharing recipes ,cooking and eating out .

Sharon Boorstin was a restaurant critique for Los Angeles Herald-Examiner & her writings has appeared in Bon Appétit, More, Conde’ Nast Traveller UK & many more.
Reading the book about the numerous friendships that she made because of food, and how she reconnects with old friends and the memories of her childhood and she even writes about the life of her friend’s relatives and many more, brought lots of nostalgic memory to me.

Some of the stories in the book are how some of Sharon’s friends, who didn’t like to cook, somehow, one way or the other finds themselves picking up cooking in their late years. It goes to show, that no matter what, any girl/woman will at some point in their life have to learn how to cook. Sharon & her friends also exchanged recipes which I do to with my friends and my family members.

Funnily enough, my love for cooking wasn’t through my mum. My mum is a modern mum & although she does cook for us, she doesn’t love cooking as much as her own mother did. That’s where I learn how to cook, from my maternal grandmother & also, my aunt, Umi. Both of them love to cook and since my family live with my mum’s parents up until I was 12 years old, I was always in the kitchen, marvelling at my grandmother’s cooking and how she can make such elaborate dishes in large quantities, all on her own.

I still remember the times when me & my cousins would help her in the kitchen during special occasions like Raya or a big family dinner, usually during the weekends, peeling the shallots for Rendang or mashing the potatoes for Mee Rebus, or grating the tapioca for her Bingka Ubi or separating the kuey teow,layer by layer(my grandma is meticulous like that) for her awesome Fried Kuey Teow.

My grandmother is a Kedahan so she cooked a lot of Kedahan dishes & kuih(cakes),and Perakian dishes too(since her husband is a Perakian).Even when we lived in Penang(for 2 years),my parents would make a point to go back to Shah Alam every weekend in order to stay over at my grandparent’s house eventhough it meant my dad had to drive for about 4 hours on the road.

So although I tend to blog about baking & making pizza & pasta, I can cook Malay dishes well, thanks to my grandma. But now my grandma is bed-ridden and she has been for almost a year, and even before she was bed-ridden & grandpa had passed away(2 days before tsunami), she still cooked for her family everyday. Our relatives would request her to make her famous Mee Rebus(which I’m proud to say that in our family, Umi & me can make it on our own, the others doesn’t bother to learn the recipe)& she would invite all of them(we are one HUGEEEEEEE family) to her house to eat them.

In grandma’s kitchen, she has made gulai ikan(fish curry) every single day for my grandpa because it’s his favourite dish & when I meant every single day, I meant EVERY SINGLE DAY & that’s why I don’t eat curry at all even until today(muak wei!).
Grandma even makes the simple daging goreng delicious because she would add lily buds in them & she would always ask me to tie up the soaked lily buds. From grandma, I learnt to eat petai, tempe, begedil and many more.

When she makes hati masak cili(liver cooked with chilli), she would cooked it separately with meat,not liver(hati) for me & my mum because both of us doesn’t eat liver. She would always make two different type of kuey teow or mee rebus,one pedas(spicy) & one not spicy for her little grandchildren. I still miss seeing her cooking up a storm anytime we or any of our relatives come over.

Grandma always finds it important to feed your guest,(sometimes I’d get annoyed because whenever I stay over, she’d force me to eat late at night even when I’m dieting..hahaha)so like the proper and prim lady that she is, she gets piss off when guest shows up unexpectedly because she wouldn’t have time to prepare elaborate dishes for their pleasure.

Thus,our relatives knows to call grandma a day before if they want to pop over. Once,I tried to make a healthy dish & cooked Jantung Pisang masak lemak kuning (banana flower) in soy milk instead of coconut milk but my grandma didn’t like it since she prefers cooking a dish the way it is.hehe.One of my grandma’s unique dish is Masak Tepung.It’s called as such in our family but it’s actually a curry base dish that has gourd(labu air) & squares of dough(tepung) in it.

I would always help my grandma roll out the dough & cut it into tiny square pieces & put it in the curry while it’s cooking. I’ve never seen this dish anywhere at Malay rice stalls/restaurant.But,it was featured in the cookbook Masakan Tradisional Utara by Zakiah Hanum which my mum bought so I guess,it’s a Kedah dish.

Just like what Sharon wrote in her book, some recipes we learnt on our own .I’m Malaysian but I love cooking non-Malaysian dishes as well because trying out new recipes is fun for me.
I learnt how to make a great lasagna, complete with béchamel sauce at the age of 15, thanks to a friend who made her lasagna for a cooking competition at our school & shared her recipe with me.
I even made a lasagna party when I moved to a different school, because a friend ate it at my house one day ,told the others & they wanted to eat it too .I still have a picture of 10 of my friends, who came to my house & finished trays of lasagna.

The great chocolate chip cookie that I make for my family & friends & even sold during last Raya, was found by me on the internet, after trying out many different ones. I even tried Martha Stewart recipe but it was just too thin to my family liking. Now, I’ve perfected the recipe & I’ve only shared the recipe with very close friends.:)

You can read what other people thought of Sharon book at Amazon..HERE.


Anonymous said...

yes, lets eat cake. yum