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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Traditional Foochow Birthday Treat



The mee sua or thread noodles are usually prepared for the Chinese New Year which augurs in longevity for the whole family. It is also served during festivals and birthdays. As the pasta is enjoyed by the Italians and others the mee sua is a hot favourite amongst the Foochows who developed this noodle originally. So we usually say that what is pasta to the Italians is what the mee sua is to the Foochows. However I have very warm and loving feelings in Sarawak when I see the mee sua is now enjoyed by almost all the races as a good breakfast or lunch.

Usually a good and very matured chicken is slaughtered and eggs are hard boiled to go with the mee sua.

Some Foochow red wine must be used to make the noodles aromatic and tasty.

For the Muslims the chicken has to be halal and no wine can be used.

Here my aunt is preparing her noodles. This is one task that almost all Foochow women (and men) are good at. For years I have been a frequent partaker of her noodles and I am totally grateful to her and her generosity.

What is amazing is her traditional effort which is very heart warming in these days of 21st century living. Early in the morning she would go to the wet market and choose the best chicken for her chicken mee sua. If no transport is seemingly available she will enjoy the morning walk all the way home (every one is working office hours). But she has great joy in preparing food for the younger generation. Bless her heart!!


A tip : the best mee sua is cooked for each person one at a time if possible. Never through the whole lot of dried mee sua into the hot boiling water at one time in order to save time. That's not the way.

 


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The two bottles of home made wine and store bought soya sauce or kicap are great accompaniments to the Foochow mee sua and are placed at the table at home like this. The Foochow red wine is home made as it is illegal to produce this very delectable wine in a factory. The Malaysian Law prohibits brewing without license and it is very difficult to get the license. Most Foochows women learn how to make this wine at a very early age if they want to.It is a lot of hard work I must say.

Eggs are always hardboiled and put in another bowl.For children's birthdays we have to colour the egg shells red to indicate boys and girls get plain eggs. This goes with the traditional of greater importance for the males who carry the family name to the next generation.

You can help yourself to as many eggs as you like but you also need to see how many the hostess has prepared. So always leave some for the others. Never take more than two is the rule.(Smile)


 

The chicken and mushroom soup is also served in another bowl. However the generous hostess will also put two or three pieces of chicken in your bowl with some lovely dried mushrooms. Again she will ask you to take more chicken and mushroom from the communcal bowl. As a rule do not try to finish the whole communal bowl of chicken!! That would be the talk of the family for generations...:)

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You have to make sure that your chopsticks skill is good. Here she singlehandedly "dish" out the mee sua using her chopsticks.

2 memories:

A.H.AWANG MOIS said...

Dear Changi Yi,

I wonder whether the dish that you mentioned for a Foochow's birthday is specifically Foochow. I remember when my sister-in-law, a Hakka, married into our family in Kuching she used to serve me almost similar items for for my birthdays. I think between the two items the eggs are more important since they symbolise fertility?

sarawakiana said...

Dear AM
Thanks for visiting.
I am not sure about the Hakkas serving mee sua.

But you are right. The eggs symbolise fertility and wealth too.

Birthing and symbolism are very interesting anthropological topics.

I will check it up with some of the Hakka elders I know. You are so lucky to be awarded eggs!!!Very auspicious.

Have a pleasant end of the year season.

Shalom

 

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