Where did the good times go…

I’ve mentioned before this elderly lady who used to sell kuih bahulu in our neighbourhood during my childhood days…and there were others who would sell other local cakes and delicacies like the pulut panggang. They would go around shouting at the top of their voices to attract the attention of any potential buyer, “Pulut panggang! Pulut panggang!”

I can recall this little rhyme that we used to chant when we were small:
Pulut panggang kayu api
Orang bujang cari bini

That may be translated as: “Glutinous rice cooked with firewood, a bachelor’s looking for a wife.” Don’t ask me what it’s all about but if I’m not mistaken, it was recited to tease any young man at the time, who was eligible for marriage.

There would also be somebody selling putu mayam, all laid out nicely on a tray with grated coconut on top. Truth be told, all my life, I thought they were strands of mihun (rice vermicilli) and when I mentioned that to my dj-friends on radio, Pat & Mag, they had a good laugh over it. Seconds later, I received an sms from an Indian friend of mine, who was listening to the show at that point in time,…in Tamil. I guess she was scolding me and since I did not know a single word of what was in the message, as they say, what I didn’t know wouldn’t hurt me! LOL!!!

Well, just in case there are people as blur as I was, iddiyappam, or putu mayam in Malay, is a South Indian dish. To make putu mayam (also known as string hoppers in English), rice flour or idiyappam flour is mixed with water and/or coconut milk, and the dough is pressed through a sieve to make vermicelli-like noodles. These are steamed, and later served with grated coconut and sugar. In some cases, gula melaka (coconut palm sugar) is used instead

I don’t know how much they cost way back then – probably 5 sen or 10 sen piece and they were as big as the palm of my hand. These days, they are not even half the size…

Putu mayam 1

…and they’re so loose that I would have to put two of them together…

Putu mayam 2

…and put the grated coconut plus sugar on top…

Putu mayam 3

…before rolling it up and eating it.

They cost RM2.00 for 10 pieces at my regular Bandung kuih stall, 20 sen each…but since I always put two together to eat at one go, one of these would cost 40 sen…

Putu mayam 4

Pretty expensive, don’t you think? The only consolation would be the fact that they’re very nice – tasting exactly like what I used to have when I was a kid…and considering that it is virtually impossible to find any/any good one around, I should be thankful that I can still get to eat something that I used to love a long, long time ago.

Sigh! Those were the days indeed, the good old days. Now where did all the good times go?