New arrival…

My ex-student, Kho Peng, and Hilda tied the knot in 2016 and the good news is that now, they have a new addition to the family, a baby girl, Abigail. He was so very nice as to remember me after all these years to invite me to their very lavish wedding banquet and this time around, he sent word to invite me to his house for what the Foochows call seng ngang.

Traditionally, the convalescing Foochow mum would have to stay in confinement for 30 days. In the old days, before there was air conditioning, she would have to stay in a hot and stuffy and very dark room – all the windows would be closed and the stench was unbearable. Yes, she would not be allowed to bathe for that whole month! In fact, she would not get to see the light of day at all.

There would be a confinement lady to do everything – slaughter the chicken, cook the soup and serve her mee sua with lots and lots of ginger to combat the “cold” in the body and lots and lots of wine to regain the blood lost during delivery. Of course, these days, anything alcoholic is to be strictly avoided as they say it will go through the breast milk to the baby. Hmmmm…no wonder we were all such good babies way back then, sleeping all the time. We were all drunk! LOL!!!

In the meantime, family and friends would drop by for this seng ngang tradition. They would bring ang paos (red packets containing money) or live chickens with a red strip of cloth tied to the ankles, trays of eggs or bottles of Wincarnis or boxes of chicken essence and the customary practice would be to stick a red paper square on them.

The well-wishers would be served mee sua

Mee sua

…and extra chicken…

Extra chicken

…and eggs too for them to help themselves if they so desired.

I remember the eggs were not pre-peeled – you will have to do it yourself and if it was a baby boy, the eggs would be dyed red and you would get the colour all over your fingers when you peeled them. They did not colour the eggs if it had been a baby girl but generally these days, they would do it for both, never mind boy or girl or they may not do it at all.

I do not recall eating anything else other than the mee sua and the chicken and the eggs but at these seng ngang sessions these days, they may serve a little bit more than those like these very nice homemade Foochow-style fish sio bee

Fish sio bee

…and these vegetable dishes…

Vegetable 1

…that we had as well…

Vegetable 2

…that day.

Upon leaving, everyone will be given some eggs to bring home. These days, many choose to give the eggs raw/uncooked so one would be able to take them home and use them in whichever way one chooses. Some may not be all that fond of eating eggs, hardboiled.

Thank you so much, Kho Peng, for the invitation and may God bless your baby girl, Abigail, and also Hilda and you with abundant happiness and all that is good in the years ahead. Cheers!!!