Monday, September 30, 2013

Sunday ritual

WE LEAVE HOME by 6.10am on a Sunday for 1st Mass at St Joseph's Cathedral. Mum and Dad always sat at the same pew at the end of the east wing of the church. So much so the church wardens put 2 hymn books on the bench to reserve the seats. Woe betide anyone who dares sit here as Mum has a stern stare or she will edge the intruders off the end of the pew. If I'm home now, I take over the spot vacated by our late Dad. Old friends nodd in our direction. I have to ask Mum who they are. When it comes to the part of the Eucharistic service where we offer each other the sign of peace, we are showered by many wishes of peace and goodwill.

   After service, Mum and Dad would treat my brother, nephews and nieces to breakfast. They will join other friends at different food centres or kopitiams. So this Sunday, the tradition continues and we would go to a current favourite, Kwong Hup Cafe which houses over half a dozen stalls.
   We would always reminisce about what Dad used to like to order and this morning we remember him and Mum ordered what he used to love, fish congee. It 1s also her favourite and she pronounced it the best by finishing the whole bowl. She said it had the freshest fish pieces, topped with you tiao, dried seaweed strips, and garnished with kien phang (fried shallots) and spring onions.
  I had the chicken laksa which was a good blast, my brother Gerard had kolo mee. All breakfast favourites, interspersed with the best popiah around with a luscious sweet plum dip of hoisin sauce. The popiah is made to order so freshness is guaranteed.
   As there is a nonya kuih stall here too, there is an array of Peranakan-inspired snacks and kuihs on offer. Of course they reminded me of my earlier years growing up in Kuching where as a treat we would buy a kuih or two, and savour their absolute freshness. Today we had ham chin peng, chai kuih and bee pau bee, followed by chai tau kuih and yam cake.
   We left our most favourite till last, the declectable kuih pai tee (top hats). This is a labour of love, seldom found in any of the major koptitiam food centres. A little fluted holder is made from a mould dipped in the batter mix. When deep fried, it comes loose from the mould. It is filled with a mix of bangkuang (jicama), julienned, carrot (julienned), shallots, shelled and deveined trump chopped into small pieces, shallots white pepper and dash of oyster sauce. This mixture is quickly stir fried and popped into the pie tee then garnished with chopped spring onions. I did request a non-prawn mix for mine. We had Teh C to go with our food extravaganza.
   Today Mum visited our uncle Father Peter. We ta pau for him kolo mee and char kway tiaw. When were arrive we sit around the mahjong table and start eating again. My brother had brought kong pia which Father Peter loves, since he grew up with this Foochow specialty from Sibu. I recently visited a kong pia maker 400km from the house. It's a Foochow version of the bagel, the cooking process is the same as the dough with a hole punched in the middle and stuck to the inside wall of a hot earthen oven. Best eaten while it's still warm, people (like Al Brown) have been making fillings for it - spicy minced pork or beef is most popular. My uncle had it with butter and a cup of green tea. One of the Aunties had made nori seaweed chips. It was irresistible.
   Mum and Father Peter decided to go for a bit of shopping so I joined my other Uncle on a trip to retrieve some iron frames. It was hot hard work (for them) so before we unloaded, we stopped at King's Centre for lunch - 2 types of roast pork and duck and barbecued pork. The meats were perfectly roasted/barbecued. A rojak also appeared, a salad of bangkuang (jicama), raw sweet potato, pineapple and taupok, mixed with hay ko (prawn paste) and topped with crushed roasted peanuts. It looked very delicious, tempting even but I couldn't battle The Prawn Factor.
   So I waited until we dropped off the goods and sat down for a cuppa and Korean moochi buns that was crispy on the outside, chewy and milky on the inside. This was another Sibu speciality, hand-delivered at the request of 2nd aunty.
   That was breakfast that morphed into lunch. I wonder what Vero is cooking for dinner.

Kwong Hup Cafe (廣合茶餐室)
Jalan Tun Ahmad Zaidi Adruce (formerly Jalan Kereta Api)
93300 Kuching

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