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 to 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.

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Author: suituapui

Ancient relic but very young at heart. Enjoys food and cooking...and travelling and being with friends.

10 thoughts on “Thirty days…”

  1. My food during confinement would be kacangma chicken (with my mom’s tuak or rice wine added), ginger chicken soup with rice wine. For the first week no salt is added but after that I cheated lah 😂 I told mom to add salt to my food. The first two weeks usually on strict confinement food and after that I start eating the regular food, avoiding the ones I wasn’t allowed to take.

    Avoid pineapples, that’s a no-no, I hear. I think Chinese mums would be given lots of ginger and they would have to avoid anything “cold”. Ginger is “heaty” and of course, it has a lot of health benefits.

    It seems that mums these days are advised not to take wine, believed to restore the blood lost, as it will go to their babies through their milk during breastfeeding – no wonder we were such good babies in our days, so quiet, sleeping all the time. We were all drunk! LOL!!!

  2. I like eating all the dishes you mentioned above though I have never been through confinement. Not easy to find the mee sua dish and kacang ma dish here.

    Not sure about our Foochow mee sua – the KL ones with yellow wine is sweet, not the same. I think there is kacang ma at Auntie Christina’s place – she’s in PJ side now – SEA Park, the one famous for her Sarawak/Kuching laksa.

  3. First two full weeks of my confinement, I had kacangma. 3rd week onwards would be alternate days for pig stomach (too thor) cook with pepper corn and mee sua with red wine. Everyone in my family loves kacangma (except my boy) and never get tired of it till this very day.

    Oh? My girl is not crazy about kacang ma either, you will not see her yearning for it, will eat when there’s any, that’s all.

    The first time I had it was my landlady’s daughter’s confinement kacang ma and I did not like it at all – then they told me it had no salt, no msg. Later I acquired the taste for it and in the 70’s, I would go and buy at the roadside stall at Palm Road, facing the junction with Rubber Road very regularly. The lady would take the white wine from under the counter to add – I think they were not licensed brewers so that was why.

  4. I’ve heard of all sorts of practices locally. Western culture doesn’t have so many.

    Some people say the adverse effects would show, come old age. I wouldn’t know how true that is, of course.

  5. Of course kacangma for me. Some day, more suah and for breakfast, it would be mostly ginger pork with wine.

    Oh. People do give live chicken when they visit the new mother? No one did that to me. Haha. Mostly ang pow or gold for new baby.

    That was in the past – people did not have pre-slaughtered chicken at the time, had to do it all by themselves. Ang pao and gold would be from the immediate next-of-kin but yes, I do think ang pao is good. Imagine the stacks of eggs in the house when everybody brings a tray! LOL!!!

  6. I haven’t heard of Wincarnis for a very long time! I think since I was a little boy and the older generation was having babies!!

    Yes, THAT was the wine people would buy for convalescing mums then. I remember the red plastic measuring or whatever cup. Dunno if it is still available or not.

  7. ooo, i didn’t realise that salt was a no-no for some people who practise this – that could be difficult to swallow indeed!

    Not really. If you simmer the chicken with the ginger and the red wine for a long time, it can be very sweet, bursting with flavours – no need for salt nor msg. Of course, it must be really good chicken, not some that has been frozen for a long time. I’m no fan of free range kampung chicken though, corn fed would be good.

  8. What an irony to show live chicken and then suddenly they are turned into dishes LOL

    Their life cycle, what they are born for, don’t you think? LOL!!! At least they are good for something, not like some people – good for nothing.

  9. I never tried lei cha before as might not like it…

    I will eat but I’m not a fan. Supposed to be good for health.

  10. My mum did tell me some stories about how women go through confinement, eating the same ginger chicken everyday. Some are not allowed to even wash their hair. All these confinement food seem very tasty. I especially like the black vinegar pork trotters hee..hee..

    I wouldn’t mind being in confinement if I get to feast on all these and lots more. Muahahahahaha!!!

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