Bubur Cha Cha or “Bubor Cha Cheir” as it is known to some Peranakans, is a dessert soup which comes close to heart for my family. My mum loved it immensely and made it often enough for us to develop a liking for it as well since young. It is a chuchi mulot which she would exercise her creativity in the ingredients to be added depending on the amount of time she had at hand and of course what we loved to eat. Kept minimalistic, it would simply be just a sweet coconut milk broth base with diced kledek (sweet potato) and keladi (taro) cooked in it. More elaborated, an assortment of other “accessories” like bijik sagu kechik (small sago pearls), and legumes like kacang merah (red beans), kacang ijo (green beans) or kacang mata itam (black-eyed peas) can be cooked separated and added. Our favorite condiment must surely be sagu gunting, chewy morsels made from either sago flour or tapioca flour that look like gems sparkling in a pool of ingredients coated with a riot of psychedelic colours. Sometimes fruits will be added, mostly pisang (bananas), occasionally nangka (jackfruit) or even cempedak, and of course whenever it is in season, durian!
Taro is part and parcel of Taiwanese cuisine, as it is made into a wide range of popular dishes. There is the traditional savory snacks like 芋粿，芋粿巧，百草芋羹 and 芋丸 to the sweet 九份芋圆，芋头酥. But one of the simplest yet not-short-of-delicious way of enjoying taro is simply making it into candied taro. This is a really traditional dessert not only in Taiwan, but much of the Min-speaking diaspora. It is used largely as an accompanying condiment in both hot and cold desserts like 牛奶冰 and 烧仙草. But it is otherwise very good to be eaten on its own!
潮式芋泥 Teochew Orh Nee or Taro Paste is a dessert that goes back a long way for my family. Unlike the other chinese desserts which my mother would frequently prepare, orh nee was not something which we had often. This is probably because it takes quite a bit of time and effort to make. Its not a dessert commonly seen in the hawker centre dessert stalls too, probably for the same reasons as well. Memories of this dish come from attending wedding banquets, where it is almost customary for it to be served as the last course at a Teochew restaurant. The feelings were somewhat bittersweet, as I’d love to eat orh nee and thus much anticipated for the it to come right at the very end, yet at the same time, couldn’t help but felt dejected, as it would also mark the end of a feast.
The warm drafts of heat that overwhelms one has reached a point of becoming unbearable. Its almost impossible to be outdoors without breaking out in sweat, which at times can escalate levels of discomfort that makes surviving each dawn til dusk under such a turmoil a daily miracle. On a lighter and more positive note, not all about the heat is bad. Summer is the time for sunshine, blue clear waters, sandy beaches and bikini babes. But my mind is set on a different “catch”. The scorching months of late May to September bring with them a plethora of fruits, i.e. mangoes in all sorts of varieties, stone fruits of every thinkable species, but most importantly, it is the durian season again!
如果真的要找出我最喜欢吃的，应该是一摊广东人经营的猪肠粉和芋头糕了。猪肠粉和芋头糕是两样陪我走过无数岁月的传统小吃，真可以说是从小就吃到大。无论是当作早餐还是午后稍稍用来治嘴馋的点心， 都那么适合。虽然把它们当作晚餐的确是有点“怪怪”的。但因为我们喜欢，所以爸妈还是常买来当作晚餐的“配菜”， 要不就打包回家当作宵夜或隔日的早餐。对我而言， 来牛车水而没吃到猪肠粉和芋头糕的话，就等于没来牛车水了。 真所谓入宝山而空手归啊。