Food glorious food – I make no bones about it! Your waist-line is going to expand significantly while in Malaysia. The food, with its melting pot of Malay, Chinese and Indian influence is amazing. This really is a foodie mecca and whatever you try, you know it is going to be great!
We are very adventurous eaters and in a world of such diversity and culture there is nothing we will not eat and nothing will we not try……okay, with the exception of dog and shark fin! They are definitely out for me.
Durian! Durian is a little like the vegemite of Malaysia. You either love it or you hate it! It has a pungent odor and you will smell this fruit long before you see it, and you are banned from keeping it in your hotel room (this ban is in effect across Asia). There is however, for the lover and connoisseur of the Durian, a once a year ‘all-you-can-eat-Durian-buffet’ where you can indulge in as much of the ‘stinkiest fruit on earth’ and not a soul there will criticise nor condemn you for your choices. I don’t mind Durian and although it has been described as smelling like raw sewage, pig shit and rotten onions it has its place in the fruit world. Best to eat it outdoors and if you can get past the smell, it isn’t too bad. I would probably sum it up by saying it is a bit like eating a crème caramel – which oddly tastes a little like vomit – while standing in the filthiest toilet block around. Durian ice-cream however, is lovely.
The food in Malaysia, and for very good reason, is an irresistible draw-card and the very best way to sample it? Well that would be at any of the lively, colorful, noisy and busy markets or street food vendors or push carts or roadside stalls or Hawkers stalls. No snobby waiters, sparkling silverware and fine china for us. It is street and hawker food all the way. This sort of eating is cheap and cheerful but it is also where the locals eat so apart from eating some of the best food around you also have the added bonus of a little cultural experience as well.
When being with the locals in their own communities you will be exposed to wonderful things you would normally not experience. These are the places you will witness the lovely art of ‘teh tarik’ which simply means ‘pulled tea’. It is tea which is virtually thrown by Mamak men across a distance of up to 3 feet from one cup to another without spilling a single drop. It is where you will eat the best Nasi Lemak – coconut rice with spicy chilli sambal, chicken rendang topped with half a soft boiled egg and deep fried silvery anchovies – amazing! And it is where you will see food being prepared with love and respect by some of the nimblest and quickest hands on earth. It really is theatre just watching these people chop and cook so pull up a stool at a rickety old communal table and enjoy because life is short and sometimes it is the simple things in life which can bring the most pleasure.
Now there is a little dining etiquette to follow while in Asia (especially in the south east) and most notably when using your hands to eat. It is simple – wash your hands first and do not eat with your left hand. If water is being poured for you from a ‘ketor’ (which is a small jug together with a basin), wash the fingers of your right hand.
Here’s your pineapple, how would you like it….. In lovely Melaka it is almost mandatory to have a pineapple tart. Very happily, I discovered these dainty little tarts of sticky pineapple jam encased in a crumbly butter rich pastry in KL. Devine!
Food really is one of the best reasons to venture to this wonderful country and most of it will only cost you a couple of ringgit.
The beer is always good and cold, the ice coffee’s are amazing, the water is drinkable and the cocktails….well they are strong enough to set your hair on fire just looking at them.
You don’t need a silver spoon nor an attitude of pomposity in order to appreciate, enjoy and eat great food. Food is life and some of the very best food you will ever eat is the simplest and to experience it in the communal warmth and vibrancy of another culture is even better…….xx