Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Lesong or Mortar and Pestle

This is my own photo of M and P with pounded ginger in it. For people with butterfingers like me, a simple M and P is more practical than a blender or food processor because it is quite an intricate business to wash all the small parts.

Photo from

The mortar and pestle set is the ancient and traditional forerunner of the food processor, blender,juicer and similar home appliances. It must have been originated from the Stone Age when man started to pound large pieces of food to help in their chewing and biting of food.

But the M and P will always be a simple but the best appliance for the discerning housewife.

One can always tell how carefully a housewife prepares her meals in mid morning by the hoise she makes with the mortar and pestle.

Once a long time ago , in London, I heard a neighbour complain that I made too much noise with my lesong. After I gave her a portion of my evening meal,she understood immediately how we Malaysians prepare our meals. From then on, she would be curious what I could pound for my cooking.

I also taught her the Foochow way of smashing garlic or ginger with a Chinese chopper. That was also the way I introduced kung fu to her, how we Chinese would use almost anything as a weapon of defence. We shared a lot of laughter in the kitchen.

Later an Indonesian lady joined us and she told us that in her country it was very important for girls to learn to pound their onions,ginger and garlic very finely. This would ascertain a good smooth marriage.

Malaysians like to pound their dried shrimps,anchovies, and all the other spices well so that they are almost invisible in the soup,sauce or stew. This is considered very refine. However many people still continue to use the mortar and pestle even when they can afford to buy the best of food processors. They always say that by using the M and P,their food tastes more "authentic".

The father of Po the Panda is a chicken who serves noodles and there is a secret in the secret recipe. It makes me smile. And I love to see the way Shifu and Panda fight each other with chopsticks to get their dumplings. Brilliant ideas!! Excellent moves!!

Well, I don't think I will let go of my M and P. I simply love the sound of stone hitting against stone in the kitchen. It's a happy contented sound. Nourishing to the soul.

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