Thirty days…

I think it is the general practice among some other races too but I do know for a fact that among the Chinese, a woman who has just given birth must observe a thirty-day confinement period during which there would be a whole lot of do’s and don’ts that she must abide by and she would be served a very nutritious diet to help her recuperate and rejuvenate.

Generally, among the Foochows, the mee sua (longevity noodles) in their traditional red wine chicken soup…

Foochow ang chiew mee sua

…would be the staple food for the convalescing mum during the whole month and that will be served to well-wishers who drop by the house within that period of time to wish them well too. In the dialect, they call it seng ngang. The lay so (good manners/etiquette) would be to bring a live chicken…

Sibu Central Market newspaper chicken

…and/or a tray of eggs or perhaps a bottle of Wincarnis or D.O.M. Benedictine or a box of essence of chicken for the mum as the buah tangan and they would reciprocate by giving the visiting relatives and friends eggs when they leave – in the past, these would be cooked but these days, many choose to give them raw and leave it to the recipients to decide what they want to do with them.

However, among the other dialects in Kuching, the Teochew and the Hakka, for instance, they would not be having mee sua like the Foochows. Instead, they have their own special food, the kacang ma chicken. It is jam-packed with pounded ginger and ginger juice and kacang ma or motherwort leaves and lots of traditional Chinese white wine and yes, I do enjoy it very much.

Unfortunately, it is not easily available here in Sibu, this being a predominantly-Foochow town so I would only get to enjoy it when my missus cooks our own…

Missus' kacang ma chicken

…like what she did the other day or settle for the one available at Payung Café…

Payung kacang ma

That is in the only place in town too if one is into the Hakka lei cha

Payung lei cha

…available at RM6.00 per set for lunch only on Fridays.

Another confinement dish these days, also usually not among the Foochows but the other dialects – the Cantonese in particular, is the black vinegar pork trotters (猪脚醋)…

Black vinegar pork leg

…a post-natal therapeutic dish that is believed to boost immunity and expedite healing. I do enjoy this too and eating it is not a problem as this is gaining popularity here in Sibu, it seems as I do see a lot of stalls at the coffee shops selling it.

So what did you all have during your confinement, all you married ladies with children? I do love all these dishes but from what I gather from some, theirs would not have any salt nor msg and would not taste all that great and besides, eating the same thing every day, day in and day out for thirty days, they wouldn’t mind if they’d never ever eat it again. Do you all share those same sentiments too?

PAYUNG CAFÉ (2.284049, 111.833014) is located at No.20F, Lanang Road, Sibu, back to back with the multi-storey car park of the Kingwood Hotel which faces the majestic Rejang River.