I wonder how many of you have heard of this song by Crystal Gayle with Gary Morris. It is one of my favourite songs by the country singer and I feel it is just perfect for a cold, quiet night…but anyway, this post is not going to be about the song or some past romantic memory of mine. It’s just that when Stella was in Kuching over the weekend, everybody got together at one place and it made me reminisce of how it was in my younger days.

Way back then, my grandma lived in the kampung with two unmarried aunties and very often, one of them would telephone asking us to go over that Saturday or Sunday afternoon to eat “that thing” as they had managed to get hold of some good “beletak” (raw), usually from Dalat or one of those towns downriver. Very often, these sessions were arranged to coincide with Gerrie’s father’s monthly business trips to Sibu as he really enjoyed them so much and always looked forward to them. So there we would all converge on the stipulated day and time at the kampung house…

Kampung house

What I am talking about here is “linut” but it appeared that they had a pantang or superstition which prohibited them from saying that name. “Linut” is a glue-like thing that you get when you pour boiling water into sago starch (the beletak). By itself, it is quite tasteless but you roll it around the fork and dip it in the special sambal with belacan, asam paya

Asam paya
Photo from

…ginger and wild boar soup. That, of course, meant that somebody would have to go to town to see Kenyap – the man selling wild boar meat at the market and cook it earlier…and there would be the soy sauce variety as well.

The others would not come empty-handed and everyone would prepare something for the gathering. If they could get hold of some unripe buah emplam

Buah emplam

…then there would be this sambal made from the fruit…

Sambal buah emplam

…or perhaps somebody would prepare this sambal timun (cucumber)…

Sambal timun

…or if it was the fruit season, then most likely, there would be buah dabai (black olives) to be eaten with the sauce from buduk aur (fermented fish in a salty dark sauce)…

Buah dabai
Photo from Gundot

Or if somebody had tempuyak (fermented durian), it would be served as a dip for ikan pusu/bilis (dried anchovies)…

Tempuyak and ikan pusu

Somebody might decide to cook terung dayak (Dayak brinjal) with udang galah (freshwater prawns) or ikan buris (freshwater fish) or the latter with daun bandung (tapioca leaves) or paku (wild jungle fern) and baby corn. It did not matter actually as there would be all the ulams, the sagu’ (toasted sago pellets), the salai ikan (smoked dried fish) etc…etc…etc… There would be SO many things to eat that one would be spoilt for choice! But still, each person would bring something probably because it was the tradition or considered rude to go empty-handed.

So everybody would sit on the floor and eat to their hearts’ contents, sharing the latest gossips and chatting away happily…and black coffee would be served. At the end of it all, everyone must eat a little bit of rice; from what I gathered, it was another pantang or superstition for fear that the rice would get offended and henceforth, the family would not have any rice to eat.

Then everyone would adjourn to the living room where my grandma and the daughters would sit on the floor to eat sirih and buah pinang (betel nut) and smoke the self-rolled tobacco in a thin piece of paper that they pulled out of a small pack like tissue paper…and the chatting continued.

I would be horizontal by then, lying on the sofa…which, after all the torture over the years, gave way eventually and called it a day! ROTFLMAO!!! Those were the days…..