Saturday, August 6, 2011

Kutu Cuisine and an Attempted Homicide by Snail - Prose of Ramadhan Part 20

WOMEN COOKS. I pity women sometimes. They are expected to be good in so many things. Particularly cooking.

ME MUM. My late mother, who was a very good cook, was also in the beginning, not very good. My auntie recalls her calling her eldest sister on the right way to cook curry soon after her marriage to my father. So the point is you just gotta start somewhere, that’s all.

MEN COOKS. Men are luckier. Society don’t really expect us to be good cooks. Of course, we are not talking about chefs like Gordon Ramsay or Anthony Bourdain. I am referring to the average Joe like you and I. The best way to learn to cook is of course by necessity. So although I missed many law classes while I was studying in the UK, I did manage to hone my skills with the pots and pans, some vegetables and dead animals. But men's approach to cooking is different - Men are simple creatures. We are not prepared to sweat and toil to please our housemates. Our principle when it comes to cooking for others is ‘Count yourself lucky that I am cooking.’ So people don’t expect haute cuisine when I cook. Any person unlucky enough to eat my cooking is usually satisfied when what I serve don't actually kill them - "Oh good, I still have a pulse. That was a great fried rice, Taufiq!"

NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCE FOR ZAHID. I almost did kill one of my friends. I invited a couple of my housemates over to my family house for dinner. One of my speciality is masak lemak siput sedut, which is basically a sort of snail (very tiny ones) cooked in a coconut, lemongrass, fresh turmeric and small green chilli broth. Normally you would buy the live snails at the wet market. But I found a packet of deceased siputs at the supermarket one day, so I thought, “Hey, why not?” The consignment did not look bad or smell bad so I bunged them all into the dish and later served it to my friends. In the course of the meal however some sixth sense of self-preservation made me resist the temptation of eating my own cooking. Perhaps because the snails now looked ominously big, certainly bigger than average. In fact the only person who ate the dish was one of my guests, Zahid. He lapped it up like a starving Eskimo - "You cooked it especially for me, bro... of course I will eat it. Delicious!" The rest of the dinner party concentrated on the less exotic stuff.
This almost killed my friend. But it was delicious, he said.
The next morning I received a surprise call from Zahid. His voice was weary sounding, and he was breathing weakly, “I am in the clinic, Taufiq… suspected food poisoning...” he muttered. “I think it’s the siput sedut last night. I am afraid that the doctor will want to pump my stomach…”
Otai burger stall franchise originates from the traditional Kutu burger stalls when
young Malays grilled burgers by the road side. The more audacious ones would
sex up their burgers with white pepper, worcestershire sauce and caramelized onions.
their burgers are greasy as how a proper burger should be, and for me light years better
than a Big Mac.
KUTU CUISINE. Men also are advantaged by their rock and roll attitude to cooking. I remember the normal conversation in my bachelors’ pad years before. “Hey guys, I am cooking noodles!” someone might volunteer. “Well what noodle dish are you cooking, then?" Another housemate might inquire. To be answered by an optimistic “Whatever is in the fridge, of course!” This sort of cooking is what my brother terms “Kutu” cuisine. Kutu basically means lice, but in the lingo of the 70s and 80s it meant a young unmarried man of the more err… earthy and laid-back disposition. The rich kids were never Kutus, although they wished they could be.

I am cooking pasta today. But in the typical Kutu school of culinary, I am dumping all pretenses of Italian influence. For this evening, I have chosen to cook Penne which I love because the ridges on them help to soak up the gravy. I am using Shitake mushroom, some cabbages, paprika, Worcestershire sauce, young green chillies, red chilli paste, mince meat, tomato sauce (the cheap ones) and the normal base of onions and shallots. No Italian herbs, garlic, oregano or parmesan is coming any where near the wok. I think it will turn out alright… Want some? Don't worry, because even if it kills you, it will taste decent.
All ready for eatin'

Have a delicious day, sunshine.

Pax Taufiqa.

No comments: