Being Sarawakian: Arakki?!

I have been going to my parents’ farm in the hills. My mum is currently busy growing peppercorns and she is very excited about it. There are other fruits and vegetables too on the farm. The pineapples are growing like mushrooms. According to my mum, they have not been buying pineapples from the market for a few months now. Just yesterday, we had her mushrooms for dinner.

When my paternal grandparents were still very active, their source of income comes from their farm. In their remote hill farms, they used to grow hill rice, maize and sugarcane as staples, and pepper, cocoa, lemon, pomelo and rubber for cash. In fact, they used to earned thousands within a week just from the selling of their durians. Of course, it was not easy for them but they enjoyed and miss it dearly. Once in a while now, my parents would bring them to visit the farms.

Their other source of income used to also be the rice wine, also known as tuak. Bidayuhs are Borneo’s master tuak makers and my grandparents used to make and sell them, usually nearing the festive seasons. They also made tuak tebu (sugarcane wine) and I have once tasted tuak apple (apple cider).

Tuak is part of Borneo native’s culture and it is used in social and ritual events of the Dayak tribes. During Gawai, tuak is offered to the spirits as part of the items used in blessing ceremonies such as the Harvest Festival. The culture of making tuak however, is slowly dying out and most of the current generations are either not interested in learning or they feel it is impossible to get it right. Plus, tuak is becoming rare now due to the availability of many modern alcohol beverages. Beers, wines and liquors are also increasingly affordable.

Bidayuhs also use distilling methods to make arak tonok, a kind of moonshine. While both tuak and arak tonok is part of our culture, alcoholism and drunkenness have also become a serious social issue among the Dayaks today. Not only adult, the youngsters are also heavily engaged in the habit of drinking; especially the moonshine.

Today, evenings and weekends, no matter what the occasion, whether there is any or not, is the time to get high and drunk. I am a drinker myself, but I do find indulging excessively is absolutely unnecessary. From time wastage to the destroying of physical and mental health, alcoholism will eventually lead to death. More than 10 years ago, one of our relatives who was close to my dad passed away from the habitual over-drinking of alcohol across all ranges.

I personally prefer tuak tebu over everything else and find arak to be too strong. I can take tuak any time of the day, but no moonshine for me.

Pizza I’mma Eatchu!

Ask everyone and they’ll tell you that Saturday nights are the most popular nights to eat pizza. For me, it’s Sunday afternoon – all by myself while I sit and binge-watch whatever I have on my laptop. At the moment, Quantico.

Pizza isn’t cheap in Malaysia though. Even with the thunderous promotion, a pizza meal even for one person will cost you sometimes up to three times the amount of any other fast food option. But who doesn’t love to get together with family and friends for pizza? The best part is, they’re super customizable. There’s a topping for everyone. And admit it, you get all excited when waiting for the pizza delivery guy! [I do – especially when I’m hungry].

There are several pizza companies in Malaysia. Three that I know are Pizza Hut, Domino’s Pizza and Papa John’s. My favourite and Malaysians’ favourite is Domino’s Pizza. And they have franchises almost everywhere within reach. If you’re too lazy, they’re a call or an online order away.

The other two companies may have the same features but Domino’s Pizza is famous for its fairly good delivery service, free coupons, promotions and limited deals. Recently, it’s the Buy 1 Free 1 deal. I’ve got two regular pizzas today for RM26.80 in total – Beef Pepperoni and Flaming Tuna which I’ll probably eat for two days.

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If it wasn’t for the promotion, that two will cost me over RM50.

But why is pizza expensive? My take – it’s the ingredients. I went to the grocery store this morning just to check out their prices. Yeah, they’re expensive. And the cheese? My, myyy… The sauce too, though. Aaannd.. Let’s not forget to consider the meat, vegetables, oil, salt, sugar, pepper, and other seasonings that are used in that cabalistic zone between the crust and the cheese.

Expensive or not, you little bitches savour every bite!  You paid that much, waited that long and of course you enjoy every bite and the times you spend with each other [or on your own]. It’s also no secret that you wish that moment would just last forever.

DISCLAIMER: I’m not a fan of fast food. But since I left home, sometimes fast food is the cheapest option I have to fill my stomach with. Just the other day I had a conversation with my friend about how cheaper KFC’s Snack Plate is compared to a plate of ‘chap fan‘.

Doughnut-filled Sunday

My typical Sunday brunch consists of either Pork Noodles or Chicken Rice or random fritters, fruits and Iced Herbal Tea if not Iced Lemon Tea.

Today I decided to reward myself. I got myself half a dozen of doughnuts from J.Co Donuts and a grande Java Chip from Starbucks.

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From top left : Avocado DiCaprio, White Dessert and Al Capone. From bottom left : Mr Green Tea, Oreology and Forest Glam.

I’m not a fan of any of these. But I thought, hey, let’s see what’s the hype all about. Of course, I’ve had them before but not with the intention to indulge, especially on Sundays.

So, how crazy are Malaysians about doughnuts?

I remember it began to warm up to the citizens of Malaysia perhaps between 2007 and 2009. And in Malaysia, things grow like mushrooms on the ground. I have no statistic reports to refer to but based on my observation when I first moved to the Peninsula, the number of outlets and food kiosks selling doughnuts has sprouted like mushrooms. Shall I add, especially in shopping malls and also at fuel stations.

Forgive me, I don’t know how it is in my hometown but I believe my people love the local specialities more than any foreign or commercialised F&B. I could be wrong – who knows. But more generally, Sarawakian families prefer to have breakfast together – in their homes or at any hawker stalls.

And instead of doughnuts, Malaysians also prefer to grab a quick Nasi Lemak or Pisang Goreng on their way to work.

Among the first doughnut-selling kiosks in the country were the Dunkin’ Donuts outlets. However, the Massachusetts-chain outlets are no longer the only doughnut brand in the local market. And frankly, I don’t remember if I’ve had them.

And in 2009, the American global doughnut company Krispy Kreme made its way into the Malaysian market, making the country its 17th stop among Asian nations. I’ve had them, yes. And I’m okay with them. I have no favourites and please note that I’m not a pastry person.

These doughnut giants have brought a revolution to the food culture in Malaysia. And no doubt, this is one of the distinctive features of globalisation. The plain round dough fried or baked to golden brown pastry – filled with hundred kinds of sweet filling – believed to have originated from the shores of America booming in Malaysia is part of globalisation.

There are of course other players in the Malaysian doughnut market. One is J.Co Donuts from Indonesia and the other one is a local brand Big Apple Donut. I’m having J.Co today and I’m liking ‘Mr Green Tea’, ‘White Desert’ and ‘Avocado DiCaprio’. I’m pretty sure I have not tried the latter. But with its slogan ‘Every Piece is a Masterpiece’, I should give it a try.

Since I’m blogging about this randomly, perhaps I should conduct a survey and see how crazy Malaysians are over doughnuts and how it fulfils the taste bud expectations of the multi-racial Malaysia society. I’m very certain Malaysians are consuming more doughnuts today compared to years ago. I mean, what would have prompted the doughnut giants to set up their business in the country?

And if they are not doing well, will they tweak their menus to suit the culture and the taste bud of the country they’ve broken into?

Will there ever be a Nasi Lemak filled doughnuts?

P/S: If I’m in Kuching, my family and I would be pigging out at 10th Mile indulging on local specialities such as Kolok Mee, Kueh Chap, Bihun Belacan, Tomato Mee, Siaw Bee, etc. The list could go on. If you’re a Kuchingite or a Sarawakian, you’ll know what I’m talking about. If you’re not, please do visit Kuching some day.

If I’m with my best friend Fara and her husband, we will be having banana leaf at Maulana Daun Pisang in Seri Kembangan. Or, they’ll cook. Hmm.. I can hear their pasta calling me!

If I’m with my two best bitches I’d see once a month (on Sunday), we’d be at some cool cafe – usually picked by Derick – stuffing our faces with pork dishes, excellent dessert, and good coffee. Of course, accompanied by bitchy and deep conversations. One of our usual spots would be at Tom, Dick and Harry’s in TTDI.

Below are the photos from our last brunch last month. I forgot the name of the cafe. My bad.

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That’s Geetha – she pushed me to see a different world.

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That’s me and Derick – he’s a brother from another mother.