Its cultural significance is similar to the Thanksgiving dinner of the West. The modern families are separated by obligations of career and marriage. Hence the yearly rush back to hometowns to reunite for the dinner. In China, the exodus can result in traffic jams hundreds of miles long and at one time, it lasted for weeks.
I decided to eat at the garden terrace lounge of the club. Nasi Goreng Kampung (traditional fried rice with anchovies) was uninspiring but reasonably priced for a private club.
I always thought the fried rice has some kind of American influence. Indeed it has a fascinating history and is crossover food.
The common explanation and assumption is that the U.S.A. abbreviation stands for Udang (Shrimps), Sotong (Squid) and Ayam (Chicken). There's also an omelette on top or wrapped around the fried rice.
Its real origin or influence ought to be the American Fried Rice (ข้าวผัดอเมริกัน) dish, invented by the Thais during the Vietnam War.
Chui Ker (Hokkien) or Woon Chai Koh (in Cantonese) is rice flour cake steamed in metal cups or bowls. The rice pudding is then topped up with 'Chai Por'.
The toppings of Chai Por is preserved and fried radish (lobak) chopped into bits with sesame oil and soy sauce added. Chili sauce is optional.
It is takeaway or street food that should be eaten on the wax paper it comes wrapped in.
The exact recipe varies. Some use shallots or turnip, some add dried shrimps (heh bi) while others soak the toppings in a special oil concoction.
Outdoor macro is hard enough in the daytime with a close-up lens' extreme shallow depth-of-field. It requires very precise focus. At night, at the pasar malam, it can be a nightmare.
I not only need to light the subject but also to handle the side effect of a curious crowd attracted to the lights like moths to a flame.
Is a challenge but doable if you can find a stall with tables. The 'assam laksa' stall usually has some tables and chairs to dine in. They won't mind you shooting other food there provided you order from them, and explain what you are going to do.
Historically, the Minangkabau people of Sumatra were of a migrating (merantau) culture. Many left home to start new lives in other Indonesian cities, as well as at regional countries. Soon, Padang restaurants were everywhere.
But there was one problem when they wanted to take food along their long journeys through rivers and oceans. Refrigerators weren't available in the 16th century.
To add a little explanation for international followers; the delicious dish known as Lemang is believed to be Minangkabau (Indonesian) in origin.
The glutinous or sticky rice is mixed with coconut milk and a little salt. It is then wrapped in banana leaves and cooked over fire in a hollowed-out bamboo tube.
In Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore, one can see stalls popping up during the Eid al-Fitr Festival, where the delicacy (including the accompanying curry) is cooked and sold from the roadside.
Split open the bamboo tube, cut up the sticky rice and pour curry over it. Heavenly.
Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 2500, f9, 1/160 sec.
These are actually vermicelli-rice flour string hoppers awaiting steaming on top of a pau steamer cover. The rattan dome is wrapped with a white cloth.
I found out that the South Indian Putu Mayam is from Venus and Putu Mayung is from Pluto. The pakcik hawker at the Ramadan bazaar noticed me giving the name on the banner a double take.
The intuitive man explained that in the north, it is known as Putu Mayung. It tastes just as wonderful with grated coconut and 'gula melaka' or coconut palm sugar.