crispy floss sandwich

My late mom is Foochow while my dad is Henghua and they both have different cultural traditions for food after a death in the family. We’ve just done the 3rd day ceremony where we sweep the cemetery grounds and bring her photo back. It’s customary to eat together after this and the two different cultures have different dishes that you’re supposed to eat.

1. Chicken mee sua with red wine and boiled-fried egg

henghua noodles

This is a Henghua tradition. You’re supposed to eat longevity noodles cooked with chicken stock (real, not from a cube or bottle) and served with pieces of chicken and an egg that’s been boiled before battered and then deep fried.

There’s also locally fermented red rice wine used for cooking in this dish. The dish above replaces the mee sua with hung ang noodles (see below).

2. Fried thick beehoon with boiled-fried egg

foochow noodles

This is a Foochow tradition and we originally wanted to follow this custom since my mom is Foochow. The fried thick beehoon is known as “hung ang” over here – it’s best described as a cross between mee hoon and lou shi fan.

Unfortunately, we drove to three (3) different places and all of them were *closed* so we settled on eating just whatever we wanted, since my dad is Christian and doesn’t follow all these pantang (superstitious beliefs) anyway.

The picture above is a type of Foochow style fried noodles – the next best thing, which most people had.

3. Pork leg longevity noodles

pork leg noodles

I had this with one of my uncles. It’s stewed pork leg cooked with a specific combination of herbs and spices called pek ting yok (usually translated as 8 treasures herb). It’s RM 7 and I found it to be quite good and it fulfils the Henghua tradition of eating longevity noodles after a death and the subsequent visit to the family.

pork mee sua

My grandma was so worried that we didn’t eat this (she’s of the older generation) and cooked dry longevity noodles tossed in lard for us at night!

rojak tambi

As for us, since we don’t really follow tradition, you can even eat rojak tambi if you want. I just thought it was interesting, all the cultural believes surrounding death and I never got a proper explanation on why we eat a certain dish and not another. However, as in all cultures, the consumption of food after a funeral is the norm.

tambi rojak

I did a quick search and found out that the reason we eat after a funeral is to celebrate the life of the deceased…

death dishes

…and we’ve been doing it as far back as 12,000 years (!!!) since the Natufian people in the Stone Age!

old batavia

Kota Tua is loosely translated as “Old Town” and it’s the old part of Jakarta. It’s also known as Old Batavia and you can still see the scars of the 1998 riots here – burned buildings are still around and refurbishment hasn’t touched most of it yet.

kota tua

We were staying at a hotel just nearby and one morning, Jazz woke me up to experience the place. The streets were closed on that day, due to a function that’s happening on the square.

kota tua no vehicles

It was the event itself that caused the closure of the streets – it’s called Hari Bebas Kenderaan Bermotor Kawasan Kota Tua 2012 which translates to “(Motorized) Vehicle Free Day (in) Kota Tua Area 2012”. Heh.

kali besar

Kota Tua is bordered by a canal called Kali Besar which is famous for its overpowering stench. I could smell it, but it wasn’t anywhere as bad as I was told.

buskers

The beauty of Kota Tua Jakarta lies in its vibrant community of stalls and buskers – there were people playing various musical instruments and I even saw an improvised percussion system made of glass bottles nestled on a wood frame!

pos indonesia

This is one of the refurbished buildings – their post office. It’s part of their efforts at making this historical town into a UNESCO heritage site.

kota tua stalls

It is primarily a tourist attraction with it’s souvenir stalls – there’s also a theater called Museum Wayang there that plays traditional Indonesian Wayang Kulit (a shadow play with puppets).

museum wayang

Several vendors also offers rides on pimped up (or rather dolled up) bicycles for two, complete with flowery hats.

old jakarta bicycles

However, it’s definitely worth a visit – you can catch a local puppet show or grab a snack from a roadside stall. I had Otak Otak Ikan which is completely different from the soggy fish paste we get here.

otak otak indonesia

The Indonesian version of otak otak is crispy and eaten with a chilli paste. It’s cheap street food, I think I paid less than RM 1 for this.

indonesian otak otak

Kota Tua Jakarta has something for everyone. It’s called Old Jakarta for a reason – a lot of history and heritage can be found in this area. I’ll allocate at least half a day for a proper visit, and a full day if you want to pop into all the museums and catch a wayang kulit show.

kota tua indonesia

…or you can just sit at one of the cafes and watch the vibrant scenes – families at play, people collecting discarded cans for recycling money, old men chatting animatedly while standing around in loose circles.

hari raya header

This is the first day of the Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebrations – the new year for our Muslim friends. In Malaysia, “open houses” are practiced and it is common for different races to mingle and socialize during festive occasions.

hari raya 08

I visited a couple of houses this morning with a bunch of friends. I neglected to pace myself and ate too much at the first house, which resulted in me not being able to eat much at the latter houses. :)

raya 1

This is what I had – pulut (glutenous rice), satay, beef rendang, curry chicken and ayam masak merah.

raya 11

I also had some dessert after that – cakes and this confectionery made out of cornflakes that I really like. :)

raya ketupat

Our group adjurned to the second house after that where there is ketupat (a traditional Hari Raya preparation made out of glutenous rice, but different from pulut).

ketupat

This is what ketupat looks like – it’s made with pandan wrappings (a complicated procedure that traditionally lasts throughout the night) while pulut is cooked in bamboo over a slow BBQ fire.

raya breasts

I was presented this home made confectionery by the host and the following conversation proceeded:

Host: What does this remind you of, Huai Bin?
HB: Hmm…something that should be covered up. ;)
Host: You have a gutter mind la…it’s eyes.
HB: That’s what I meant, it should be covered up with sunglasses. What did you think I mean? Lingerie? ;)

raya feature

It’s fun, with witty banter and general fellowship. I have missed Hari Raya for two years in a row so it’s great to be able to go visiting again. I love this water feature that I saw in one of the houses that we visited.

Selamat Hari Raya 2008 to all readers of sixthseal.com! :)

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