“Cendol” pronounced Chendol——a favorite local dessert made from coconut milk poured over crushed ice, with corn kernels and red beans—cold and refreshing in the humid heat of Southeast Asia; tastes a bit like canned creamed corn! It is interesting to note that corn and red beans are included in many sweets here—not what we usually think of as items for dessert!! Another popular sweet is Luo Han Guo-shaved ice with molasses and dried plums.
Traditional breakfast here—Nasi Lemak—coconut rice packed in a fresh banana leaf with part of a hard-boiled egg, a cucumber slice, several peanuts, some chili sauce, and a small sardine, then steamed—delicious!! Although, I must admit that I prefer those without the sardine because it is very fishy!!
Southeast Asian culture is very food oriented and the night market setting is a foodie heaven! Noodles of many sizes; spring rolls-veggie and non-veggie; sweets; local version of pizza; chicken-cooked in numerous styles-including fresh chicken-feet; fish ball soup; steamed Chinese dim sum and dumplings of many shapes and colors; local crepes with many fillings- one of which is with blueberry jam, chicken floss, chocolate chips, cheese, and chocolate syrup; numerous meat/sausage item on sticks cooking over live wood coals— these are just some of the available items , all prepared fresh, right in front of you!!! In addition to all the prepared food, a wide selection of fresh fruit and vegies, baked goods, fresh and dried fish and more are also on display to tempt the prospective buyer. My words cannot begin to describe or capture the rainbow variety of all that my eyes took in on that Thursday night in Seremban!
Some new fruit I have enjoyed—Rambutan–literally “hairy” fruit; Jack fruit–the color of fresh butter, with a rich and mellow flavor; Dragon Fruit—a deep scarlet-fuchsia color with small black seeds and very little actual taste; Mangosteen—deep purple peel with white soft flesh that has a peachy-pineapple-ish taste.
In rereading this, I realize that almost everything I have talked about is food! Yes, I have been doing a lot of eating new foods, and am learning to like many new things. Food is definitely one of the central items of life—and can be a real heart issue. Even though I have (mostly) enjoyed the new foods, and the items have been healthy—it hasn’t been “my” food—my soul food. Every now and then, Kevin and I have sought out a McDonalds for a burger and fries! Ironically, we rarely eat such fare while in the U.S., but it tastes “familiar” and feeds not only our tummies, but our souls as well!
On other fronts, I feel we are making good headway in adapting to life here. This isn’t just a prolonged visit, but a longer term time to settle in and make this home. We have begun some informal language learning – I try to always have my English-Asia dictionary with me as I travel. We have gotten very good at using the local metro/subway system-and even have our own “Touch”NGo” cards so we don’t have to buy a ticket for each trip! We have taken advantage of opportunities to learn about the rich and varied history that has contributed to the current social/political/religious environment. I have enjoyed getting to know some of the different sections of this big cosmopolitan city. One of the areas we visited boasts a vibrant “Little India,” an extensive China Town, many huge shopping malls. There is a rich history of art and local handicrafts—silk weaving, batik painting, pottery, kite making and flying, drama, shadow puppet performance—-I look forward to experiencing more in this realm!
I hope to be able to send more postcards as my experiences increase over time, and so to share my life with you too!!
In the mean-time,