Friday, September 24, 2004

Celebrate you

This was inspired by reading a few people's blog, and by my numerous visits to the Penang & Vietnamese stall in Giant Kelana Jaya's Foodcourt.
Bon Apetit

The trip up the escalator had gotten Pah a little bit breathless. Not because of her weight, but because she was talking to her friend Su all along the way. The were talking about last night's Fear Factor and they were poking fun at some of the contestants. By the time they reached the food court, they were laughing so hard, they had temporarily forgotten about what happened at the office before they left for lunch.
They scanned the stalls at the food court, undecided on what to eat. Su finally settled for some Yong Tow Foo : some fish balls, tofu cake, some vegetables. Su decided to have them in soup instead of fried. Su didn't say anything, but Pah knew that in the back of Su's mind, rang their colleague's remark about their weight. Though the colleague didn't explicitly say it, Pah knew that when she recommended that Pah & Su try out this new diet she discovered, there was an unspoken "since you're so fat" trailing behind.

Pah walked to one of the other stalls and scanned through the menu.
Too much fat.
Too much meat.
Too oily.
She heard and smelled someone cooking in the back of the small kitchen. The clanging of spatulas on a wok. The smell of sauted garlic.
Sounds and smells oh so delicious!!
She could probably order some Assam laksa, she thought. Less laksa, more vegetables.
As she stood there, a thin figure came and stood beside her.
She was well dressed, in a pink blouse and a modest knee-length skirt. Her make up was perfect. Shaded pink eyeshadow on eyelids, mascara on lashes, lipstick, blusher. Pah tried to recall whether she had put any lipstick on. The lady's hair was neatly pinned in a bun. She looked like an air stewardess. Maybe she is, since their training centre is just across the street, Pah thought.
Miss Stewardess stood next to Pah and talked to the stall owner.

What's in the eggrolls?
Carrots, cucumber, beansprouts, eggs and peanut sauce.
I don't want the eggs. or the peanut sauce.
Mana sedap woh (Then it'll be tasteless)
Can you not fry the eggrolls?
Can. can.
okay I'll have two.

The stall owner dissapeared into her small kitchen with the order chit in hand and came out with a plate of fried kuey teow. She set the plate on the counter, in between Pah and Miss Stewardess. The fragrance of sauted garlic & oyster sauce enveloped them. The flat noodles were tinted dark of soy sauce, and the oil made it glisten. Bits of eggs and chunky cockles and stringy beansprouts mingled with the noodles. Pah saw Miss Stewardess looking at the dish from the corner of her eye. Miss Stewardess' hand ran across the waistband of her skirt and she heard a tiny sigh. Of longing?

"Leng loi, mau order kah?" (Pretty girl, do you want to order?), the stall owner asked Pah.
"That looks good.. I'll have a plate of that" Pah said, pointing at the kuey teow "extra cockles ad beansprout okay auntie?"
"Auntie, are my eggrolls ready?" Miss Stewardess asked, with a slight impatient tone in her voice.
" sekejap ah.. lu punya special order mah.. (In a minute, yours is a special order)"

Another customer came and asked the stall owner if the kuey teow was his, and walks away with the dish. Miss Stewardess moved slightly away, as if the fat from the dish could travel through air and deposit on her thin body.
The stall owner dissapeared again and a few moments later came back with two trays:
One with a plate of two unfried eggrolls and a bowl of peanut sauce. The eggrolls lay cold and white. Pale and bland. The sauce nutty and spicy.
The other had a plate of steaming hot char kuey teow, laden with cockles and beansprouts.

Miss Stewardess paid and took her tray. She was about to leave when one of her friends walked by, looked at the contents of her tray and said
"eeeyeww.. you're gonna take the peanut sauce? It's very fattening you know?"
Miss Stewardess turned around, returned the sauce and hurriedly joined her friends. But not without a final glance at Pah's kuey teow.

Pah and Su sat not far away from Miss Stewardess and her friends and Pah couldnt help but watch that table. They were talking while eating, and Pah saw that after each bite, Miss Stewardess' eyes would be roaming around looking at other people's plates. Everybody else had salad or soup. Two of her friends shared a grilled mackerel. Miss Stewardess finished her eggrolls in about 8 bites. The rest of the time she sucked mineral water through a straw.

Pah savoured her lunch. It was somehow more delicious than she had imagined. Even Su, who complained that she's still hungry and snuck a bite from Pah's plate, thought it was tasty too.

"Lets get a DQ Blizzard" Pah announced, "I feel like celebrating"
"Celebrating what?" Su queried
"Celebrating me" Pah smiled.

Yong Tow Foo : assortment of fishballs and fishcakes or vegetables stuffed with fish. Served either fried and eaten with sweet and spicy sauce or in a soup.
Assam Laksa : Thick Rice noodles (laksa) in a sour&spicy fish soup (assam), served with mint leaves and shredded cucumber, onions and pineapples.
Char Kuey Teow: flat rice noodles (kuey teow), fried (char) in a garlic and oyster sauce. With cockles, beansprout, thinly sliced fish cake thrown in.

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