A week of firsts …

chinese porridge shop sign

After a while, once you get used to your new surroundings, even somewhere as different as Malaysia can seem a bit same-old, same-old.  So it was very exciting last week to do a whole host of new things.

For starters, I went into Chinatown and had my first ever frog porridge –

I have to admit that I was a little trepidatious – but more about the porridge than the frog – we francophiles don’t blanch at the thought of snarfing down an amphibian or two.

It was jolly delicious, and I am now a convert to Chinese rice porridge, which I have avoided for ever, because I loathe English porridge so much.

See – I was even smiling afterwards.

I also tried hot tofu with sugar syrup for the first time, from a little man with a cart, next to the fake designer handbags –

I’ve been converted to this, too – Chinatown seems to be my personal road to Damascus at the moment.

We went to visit the famous duck stall, which has been in the market for decades, and I was surprised to see that it was really just a glorified trolley –

But the queue was huge and the duck was amazing –

And then, I’m proud to say, I cooked my very first Malaysian supper party, with an authentic Peranakan recipe, from the Straits Chinese repertoire, called Pongteh.  It’s a kind of chicken stew, so off I went to the special shop for more Mozart Listening Chicken … I do like to think I’m dealing with cultured poultry when I’m cooking.

And here it is –

– all brown and ambrosial – with the roast duck in the foreground, reheated to prefection.  It’s just a pity that I don’t have any serving dishes, so it looks like a meal from the soup kitchen.

My next delicious first was Yuzu – a citrus liqueur that is so much nicer than limoncello –

And after the second glass, I sat murmuring ‘where have yuzu been all my life?’

Then, after pongteh came gula’pong.  I’m not sure what ‘pong’ means in Bahasa, I tried putting it into google translate, and it told me that it also means ‘pong’ in English, but I’m sure that can’t be right.  If it was, durian would be called pong, and it isn’t.

I was delighted to learn that although gula’pong is made from a type of palm sugar and cream, it is a healthy dessert –

with extra sugar poured over the top … just to make it even healthier –

And then to round off my food-related firsts this week, I was trapped in the lift with a trolleyful of durian yesterday –

The young chap was very apologetic about the smell, and explained that he was holding a durian-eating competition later that evening for his friends.  I was very glad that he got out of the lift a good ten floors below me – I felt pretty sure the pong wouldn’t carry that far.

The only negative side to my week of firsts has been Mr Toad’s very strange behaviour ever since the frog porridge –

I’ve tried telling him that nobody eats toad porridge, but he just stares lugubriously at me.  I had no idea that toads were prone to such attention-seeking behaviour.