Words of Wisdom

In life, we have to choose between the jeans and the cookie jar. Liz Hurley chose the jeans and I chose the cookie jar

~ Nigella Lawson....(on women's body image and her own voluptuous body)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Happy Eid Mubarak !

The month of Ramadhan is officially over today with the celebration of Eid Mubarak in Malaysia.

We are experiencing the heat of the current worldwide economic downturn with the American markets underperforming and the TV news last night reporting how the share market in Europe is consistently not making any profits. Newspapers in Malaysia are reposting the laments of shop owners not getting as many customers as they used to even with 50-70% price cut. Banks just raised interest rates for car hire purchase loans recently.

Sadly, money doesn't just fall from the sky and neither does it grow on trees!

The prices of petrol and rice especially cause a huge dent in the budget of an average Malaysian like me. I told people that my standard of living still remains the same as it was 7 years ago despite the few hundreds difference in my salary. Since recession happens about once in every decade, it is expected that after the painful 1998 economy, 2008 will be another challenge for us and the rest of the world.

Finally, I can experience my family celebrating in very modest preparation. Modest by our standard anyway. FOUR family potfuls of special dishes in the kitchen to feed at least 50 people that is. That's the way our family are. Good food tastes better when you share it with your loved ones.

Relatives used to come in droves when my paternal grandmother, who lived with us, was still alive. It's an old tradition in our family. We shall make it our priority to visit houses where the oldest of the elderly live.

Eid Fitri Ang Pau

My morning started by giving out money in paper pockets to my nephews.
Not without a strict instruction that they must hand those over to their mother for safekeeping.

The practice of giving out money in these pockets was adopted from the Chinese tradition of giving out 'angpau' to young and unmarried members of the family. That's the way Malaysians are. We infuse each others' culture into each and make them our own.

Too bad they only adopted half of the Chinese tradition. So, only the kiddos get the 'pockets'. Unmarried old maids like me are left in the cold. Duh!

Nephews & Eid Fitri treats

The nephews with a modest array of delicacies and cookies on one of the coffee tables in my parents' living room.
Not as many as we used to have.

That's the only table with these delicacies whereas in previous years, we used to have at least THREE tables with those. When grandma was still around, I'm sure we had about FIVE coffee tables of those for visiting relatives.

Then off to my maternal grandparents' house.

Hey! Look at what my cousin brought back to the village this year!

Sarawak Layer Cakes 1

Sarawak Layer Cakes exquisitely designed by a cakemaker for whom my cousin acts as an 'agent' to.

Sarawak Layer Cakes 2

Look at the geometric patterns the cakemaker painstakingly put together here.
These are TWO of the several patterns available.

Sarawak Layer Cakes 3

They taste as good as they look too!

Delicate. Moist. With a bit of soft cheese in the batter, the cakes are a good fusion of East and West. Looking like a much denser version of our traditional 'bahulu', the cheese in the batter and the fruit jam that is used to 'glue' the patterns together provide the Western touch. The softness level of the layer is something like a thin but very dense version of Swiss rolls.

I do not know the recipe this cakemakers uses and it was my cousin who said there is cheese in it (they sure taste like there is soft cheese in there!). As for fruit jams, normally the layer cakes recipes I have encountered so far use them for 'gluing'.

Economic downturn or not, sometimes we do deserve a little bit of luxury at the right times and what more can be more appropriate for gastronomic luxury than the celebration of the end of the fasting month with this work of Art called the Sarawak Layer Cake?

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