These brown khaki campbell ducks or Chai Ark are nicely wrapped for the customers to cash and carry. You can recognise the chai ark very easily because it is all brown from head to toe.
Lovely Chai Ark for selection- you need to choose between male and female for your needs.
The Foochows love these special ducks which are seasonal. In Sibu there are more families rearing them as the market for them is better. In Miri however these ducks are rarely available as only a few families rear them. The taste is excellent and the soup very therapeutically sweet. However in terms of meat this kind of duck is rather bony and thin. Many people do not like the taste of duck any way. As a Foochow I often yearn for a taste of this duck soup . Today the Chai Ark has been placed on a higher level of exotic meat in many respects.
More pricey than the Serati or Muscovy or Chuong Wang (the red faced duck) this type of duck is actually medicinal to the more traditional Foochows. Naturally the modern Foochows might have forgotten all about this very special duck.
In the past a mother's love was often shown when she steamed a whole chai ark for just a bowl of condensed duck soup for her beloved son. Often when a husband came home very tired from a week's work in the timber camp or construction site the wife would quickly slaughter a chai ark to make that special soup as a welcoming act!!( A good wife would always have a few chai ark or other ducks and chickens in her backyard then.)
Daughters would then watch the father drink the soup and later enjoy the duck meat at the table when called upon to eat. This was quite the norm when I was a teenager and I often heard my friends talking about how good their mothers were to their fathers!! Perhaps it was this way that daughters were inculcated with such social values of loving their husbands to bits. (:) ) Brothers were of course gold in the family.
But I know of many of my aunts who would even bottle the Ark Loo (Condensed Duck Soup) and send these bottles of goodness through relatives to as far as Miri or even KK. Many of my relatives were really very considerate in bringing things for other relatives. This was one of the ways Foochow mothers expressed their love for their children especially sons.
However the most important value of this Chai Ark is the soup derived from it for the post treatment of measles. After a bout of measles a child is usually very weak and having a great deal of kidney fire (Traditional Chinese Medicine way of expression). The antidote is soup from the female duck. (Must be female) Usually when a child had measles the mother would go and reserve one or two female duck. I remember the poultry hawker would with lots of understanding and sympathethies ask if the chai ark booking was for a child who was having measles. Then he would go on to exclaim the goodness of the chai ark for good measure.
When the fever was gone the mother would take great pains to prepare the soup for the child. I wonder how many of my friends remember how much care and love their mother had for them especially when they were suffering from measles which was quite a killer disease in those days.
This is a traditional treatment and I am wondering how many of us Foochows practice this today? We are lucky we have so many modern vaccines which can save lives today.
And my admission today : Far away in Miri I did not give any Chai Ark Moh Soup to my children after they had measles!!
Mother's Day coming up. How much have we thought about our mothers and their sacrifices?
I wish to send my mother a wonderful Chai Ark Tong....