Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Mamaks Greasing the Engine of Love - Penang Trip Part 1

Bob and Inas. And unseen, somewhere in the back is the sinner,
also making an entrance after sneaking out for a nicotine break.
Traditionally, this happy pair would be called a handsome couple.
GREASING THE ENGINE OF LOVE. Last weekend finds me in Georgetown, in the northern island state of Pulau Pinang (Penang). It is serious business that draws me from my hermit-like existence in Kuala Lumpur. It is about the important issues of marriage and food, and in this respect, Penang offers an attractive union of both propositions... It is my policy to encourage all friends and acquaintances to find Penang girls to wed because I am always looking for excuses to visit this pearl of the Orient, for its food, food and more food. 

Marriage, like life itself, is full of bittersweet trials and tribulation. So I believe it is a sound idea to have good food grease the engine of love and marriage. Don't you agree?

 They have been serving Nasi Kandar for years. Selling from 10pm to 10am, they
are a popular late-night spot for Penangites to get their curry hit. There are
an assortment of dishes that would constitute a proper Nasi Kandar, but I think that
the standard option by which all good Nasi Kandar is judged  is white rice, beef cooked
in some dark gravy, a couple of ladyfingers, and one boiled egg. Of course you can
also have it with curry prawns, crabs, fried fish etc.
This is the magnificent Bangkok Lane Mee Goreng Mamak. It is noodle fried with
beansprouts, soyabean curd, chilli paste and absolutely permeates with the taste
and smell of dried scuttle fish. This is my second plate because I finished the
first before remembering to take a picture. In hindsight one plate is enough.
Half way through the second already left me slightly queasy... This is what
thespians call suffering for your art. 
This is a plate of nothingness. But before it became nothing upon being demolished
by this writer, the plate was filled with fried soyabean curd (taukua goreng) and a  pastry of
flour, shallots, beansprouts and small prawns also fried in boiling oil (cucok). I would have
readily had a second plate, but the first took almost 40 minutes to get to our table, so I
was not prepared to invest more of my life time here. I guess the crowning glory of this
simple stall food is the fried soyabean curd, with its gentle crisp skin and soyabean
in the inside literally melting in your mouth. It was heavenly. But you can only do
this with fresh ingredients... which is what makes the food in Penang special.
This does not look like an office. But it is.
It belongs to this man. He also does fried noodles, and I guess he
has been doing this all his life. He must be at least 80 years old.
Ahh... time for a break, with his daily Tamil newspaper. And this is also
what makes Penang special. The Indian Muslim diaspora called the Mamaks
who are the cooks and entrepreneurs of all the dishes mentioned here. 
It was a wonderful trip. alhamdulillah. May the Mamaks continue to grease the engine of love (and life) here in Penang with their unique recipes of greasy oily dishes. Cause you know, if it is too healthy it won't be delicious at all!

For my friends celebrating Christmas, may this day be blessed for you, sunshine.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

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