Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Tell-A-Tale (Part 11): DuanWu Jie

I failed miserably in an attempt to resist one of the guiltiest of pleasures. This year. Again. DuanWu Jie (DragonBoat Festival) is my Hungry Ghost Festival. And I’m the Ghost, of course. Unlike the noble Qu Yuan, this is a sinner who fell in love with the sinful zong (rice dumpling). Soft, savoury glutinous rice, large pieces of five-spiced pork belly, pasty mung beans, sweet chestnuts and salted egg yolk. Did I leave out shitake mushrooms?

Gluttony triumphed over lust as I gobbled my last, best piece of zong this year. It was dressed in a dark, fragrant soya sauce marinate. Oil wetted my spastic lips, goatee and fingers. Most of it went into my bloodstream. In a blood-clotting moment, I had a thought. A thought that surprised even the then climaxing me.

What is a zong anymore?

On the night of DuanWu Jie, among others, a 6 months-old cherubic face was sleeping on the sofa, under the cool, humming air-conditioning system while an 85 years-old man repeated his tales, as familiar as the nostalgic scent of bamboo leaves for zong wrapping.

America’s Got Talent was on. So does everywhere else.

The table was set. The aroma of chili paste with dried shrimps filled the air and of course, attracted the desperate flies. Malaysians, the naturally gifted badminton players had no problem with zapping them flies with the e-racquets.

Stainless steel multi-tier steamers aside, modern times certainly do not change our definition of a Chinese dinner. The juicy steamed chicken, herbal roasted duck, stir-fried rice cake (which goes extremely well with white rice), steamed pomfret with fermented soya bean paste, greens like kale (with prawns for some laughters), braised pork ribs with mushrooms & chicken feet, simple steamed red snapper with soya sauce & fried shallots and the o’faithful soya sauce/sesame oil/shallots dipping. And the therapeutic cabbage soup with dried oysters the elders insisted. Respect the taste.

Adults and children at the table. The limboistic ones were free to roam about. With a plate full of goodness in hand, the obvious choice was under the air-conditioning system. Meanwhile, cherub was still dreaming, oblivious to the sounds of the prawns and America’s Got Talent.

And I had two helpings of rice.

“Construction is very important in making a good zong. The ties should neither be too tight nor too loose’. The elders said.

And it’s making more sense to me, as the years go by. With each DuanWu Jie.

21 comments:

CUMI & CIKI said...

when you wax poetic .. it makes me wanna jump in my car.. and head on down the the nearest eatery to stuff my face silly! lol :) cool shots

Kenny Mah said...

I love this: Respect the taste. Yeah, respect the TASTE! Lol.

p.s. Didja get any Nyonya Zhong? I still haven't gotten any. So deprived is this Melaka boy... :(

Precious Pea said...

What a feast! Sigh..long long time never celebrate Duan Wu Jie with a big feast at home oledi. Actually can't recall i ever have cos usually am too stuffed with zong, no space for other food. Hehe!

ling239 said...

lucky u ~
not showing insides of the zhong ? aiseh... is this from the same supplier ? :p

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

aiyah..2nd person to make me regret not bringing zhong to eat for lunch..1st being a friend who BOUGHT ZHONG FOR LUNCH!

Jun said...

whr can i get good dumplings in spore? boyfriend la, told me the wrong date, made me miss out on buying my bak zhang *sniff*

u free next fri? :)

Simon Seow said...

I didn't have zong on that day. So sad.

team bsg, Malaysia said...

save for those d40x swinging palms and bended elbows quite possibly we are here witnessing a reincarnate of that unageing ancient sage , the harbinger of all things Han. Unless you insist America's got talent which is undoubtly quite doubtful

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

I love the first pic. You've made me crave for one of those chungs. Luckily for me, I have some homemade ones here made by my loving sis-in-law. My brother chose well. :-P

Jason said...

OMG.
I recounted the amount of chung(s) I had and it was.... 1.

OMG OMG OMG OMG

Nic (KHKL) said...

cumi & ciki, u so sweet lar ;) yeah, i stuff myself silly all the time. especially when the food is fantabulous (like the glorious zongs)...it's part of the inspiration, i guess...hehehe...

kenny, that phrase was rather ambiguous, wasn't it? hehe...i guess it's both taste and TASTE, eh? lol!

nyonya zong? oh, my colleague gave me one last week. slightly sweet, it was spicy with a hint scent of screwpine...wah, shiok!!! kl difficult to find nonya zong?

precious pea, i agree lar...breakfast, lunch, tea, dinner and supper also zong..haha! but i'm not complaining cos i LURRRVVVEEE zong! the savoury type ;) ok lar, the alkaline type with kaya also very good. oh, the red bean paste ones too! hehehe...

ling239, no show inside? oh, because i wanted to create a sense of mystery ;>. no leh, this one is actually from a relative who stays in another state. the supplier one we finish 1 week before duanwu jie already ;)

joe, oppps...hehehe...actually hor, one zong for lunch where got enough? even if it's the huge type, an additional petite alkaline type (with kaya) for dessert will be nice as well. gosh, i'm at it again!! lol!

jun, good dumplings? wah, that's a tough one. well, i tried the ones at bugis junction before, not bad. and for the high price, the ones at takashimaya foodcourt shd be good as well lar..hehe...

next fri? errr, i'm taking the evening bus back to kl leh. got plans the whole of june in kl already. i'm so sorry lar for delaying our makan session. any day from mon to thurs you ok ar?

simon, aiyah, nowadays, zong can get anytime, anywhere. but yeah, i understand your feelings lar. it's like chinese new year without bak gua liddat. hey, look forward to mooncake festival! ;)

team bsg (malaysia), the sagely one, i believe is the team who is able to intrepret so insightfully the story behind the zong. the western-malay educated one can only humbly appreciate the Han traditions that seems so sensible and pragmatic. which sadly, sparked in the fuel of time. Population and proportion-wise, the Hans have more talents. undoubtly.

lyrical lemongrass, thanks for loving the first pic ;) homemade ones are the best, aren't they? suit our taste to the tee, with lotsa familiar flavours and scents. and ok, now i know what to look for in a wife....thanks for the tip, ya! hmmm, goes well with the tight/loose ties as well...discovery it is!

jason, OMG! how can? how can? i thought you made quite a few back in ipoh? you gave it all the delicious zongs away? OMG OMG OMG! hehehe....hey, next year, try making it in kl lar! we'll have a zong feast! ;)

Live2Talk said...

Wow! Eating zhong can climax you? Err you can be easily satisfied are you :P

mimid3vils said...

I eat zong until so "jelak" liao...
=.=

Jun said...

wah, social butterfly (or moth? ;p)... ok la i see how can? prolly thurs gua... contact u later.

KampungboyCitygal said...

yeah the typical " zhou yat zhi" dishes..hmmm i miss my mum

Big Boys Oven said...

this is awesome, so lovely spread of food!

Nic (KHKL) said...

live2talk, yupe! along with hokkien mee and char kway teow. and assam laksa. ohhh, and foie gras as well! haha! self-made aphrodisiacs...haha!

mimi, aiyerrr, u so lucky lar....hehehe...you make the zong yourself or buy one. next time must ask you where to get good zong in kepong d. ;)

jun, no lar, me no insect here...hehe...ok, perhaps a fly (what!?)...sure, thurs is cool! just give me a buzz. and thanks for making it despite your superpacked schedule! ;)

kampungboycitygal, eh, you din go back to ipoh for duanwu jie? learn a few dishes from your mum lar. than you can have a feast in kl. oh, invite nic also, ya! ;)

bigboysoven, yupe, yupe! dai yui, dai yuk (big fish, big meat)...hehehe...a good reason to meet up with the close relatives as well. ;)

Bernsy said...

eh... this reminded me of the pleasures of eating home made chungs ( made in Kepong somemore)... and the Melaka ones...

CAP reported finding boric acid in Chungs recently... so the chungs better be homemade...

Nic (KHKL) said...

bernsy, yeah, the homemade ones are the best, aren' they? especially if the elders are making it. they are sooo oblivious to salt and salt. in other words, it's tasty!

ya lor, alkaline water lar, boric acid lar...all in the name of profit...sigh....

mimid3vils said...

my mom & sis make it lah... if u want I can give u some, but must wait until next year, now all finished liao :P

Nic (KHKL) said...

mimi, thanks! i want, i want! hehehe...