It’s January now and we’re back, still eating our way through Malaysia…
Well, here we are, back in Malaysia for much of January (Derek) and part of January (me). This is our last few days as touristas; we get to move into our chosen house shortly, depending on when the cleaners and repairers get finished with it.
We fly back to Malaysia “for good” (we already did ‘for better or worse’) on February 25th and, if the nice Airpets folks and Malaysia Airlines get it right, then our two Alaskan Malamutes, Rogue and Solo fly out of London on the 27th and into our waiting arms and air conditioned everything. One nice thing about Malamutes is that they’re always glad to see you so we’re pretty sure they won’t be mad at us for doing this to them.
At the moment, we’re at the Holiday Inn, Glenmarie Golf Course, Shah Alam, Selangor, and it’s more than pretty OK. We’re not golfers but we’re spoiled rotten. The Executive Room plan that we’re on — including Relina and Rosie and two others whose names I haven’t got memorised yet — leaves little to be desired. I dial ‘1’ on the phone and request whatever I need and it’s there withi 5-15 minutes. Light bulbs are changed (though the same light bulb burns out the next day and is changed again in our case), laundry whisked away, a blanket for my nap is brought. Don’t like something? They’ll fix it or bring a different one.
We pop into the executive lounge and there is someone to wait on us — a beer or glass of wine at the end of the day, a tall glass of mango juice after the long hot walk back from the spa, our own buffet breakfast away from the droves of other people…whatever. It’s not like we sit down and wait, either. They see us coming through the big glass wall and doors, leap up and open the door and then bustle off to fulfil the order.
They’re all beautiful and perfectly groomed and coifed, as pleasant as can be. Derek has observed that they seem to have one size uniform — and on most of the ladies, it’s one size too small; on one of them it’s two sizes too small. Given it’s a tight mini-skirt and very fitted blouse, and worn with 4-5″ heels, and they all have lovely figures, I have to say he’s right. Those skirts are tight! But it works because the women are such personable and caring individuals. They are definitely getting a letter of recommendation from me.
I am also enjoying the Holiday Inn ‘services, rules and regulations’ book. Such things are endlessly fascinating to some people and I guess I am one of them. Who puts these things together anyway? This is a very deluxe custom-sized binder, with very expensively printed pages. It weighs about two pounds and covers everything from ‘bailment’ (don’t ask me–I don’t know what it means but it’s on my list to find out) to durians. And on the subject of the durian, it reads:
Durians: The Hotel management regrets that no durians are allowed to be consumed or brought into the hotel premises.
I do not regret that durians are not allowed to be consumed or brought into the hotel premises. Phew! Though I haven’t been to Thailand for well over ten years, and I lived there over 35 years ago, my memories of the durian in Thailand remain strong enough to convince me that this is indeed a good policy and one with the hotel guests’ best interests at heart.Wikipedia says that the durian is distinctive for three things: its large size (up to seven pounds!) its formidable thorn-covered husk (it’s definitely an armoured fruit) and what I remember most of all: it’s “unique” odour.
Makes one wonder, though: Why does the hotel have “Durian Pancakes” on the menu — for dessert? I did have the mango and sticky rice pudding one night but haven’t even considered the Durian Pancakes.
Wikipedia also notes that some people regard the durian as fragrant. I would not be one of them. I’m definitely in the group that finds the aroma “overpowering and offensive”. The smell evokes reactions from deep appreciation, they say, to “intense disgust”, and has been described variously as smelling like rotten onions, turpentine and gym socks. I can describe it in one word–much more succintly. It smells like —-.
Want to try durian yourself? Be my guest–but let me know when you’re going to do it so I can leave the general vicinity.
We are slowly working our way through learning about Malaysia food. Derek complains that it is all chicken and rice (well?) and that he can’t get a decent piece of fish. All Malaysian fish is boney. I maintain it’s a matter of learning what to order–and where to order it. So I keep trying. I did get a fantastic piece of cod from the hotel room service–but it was served Western style with garlic mashed potatoes, a basil cream sauce and lovely zigzag-sliced vegetables.
A few nights ago we went into what we presumed to be a Malaysian restaurant, of the ‘local’ persuasion, and then discovered that the bewildering choice of foods was actually Indonesian and we practically had to start all over. I can invariably find bitter melon (which I like) on the menu but also generally end up with some sort of chicken and rice curry combination so far myself.
Never mind. We’ll get there. I bought a dual-language cookbook called “Racik Tradisi” or “Traditional Malay Cuisine” the other day when we were out on another leg of Derek’s endless hunt for the perfect road map of Malaysia. I figure that way I can learn what we’re eating and how to order it as well as what to buy to make it and what the ingredients are. At the moment, we just as for something and wonder.
Like most cuisines about which one knows nothing, this book is filled with things about which I know nothing and have never eaten, much less cooked with (or even imagined cooking with).
Banana Flower Acar? Goodness, it’s not at all what it sounds! I’m in the main dishes section and Banana Flower Acar is prepared with onion, chilli and shallot (“grinded”, the book instructs). There is also an Acar Vegetables and what they seem to have in common is that they are cooked in a ‘dry’ gravy. Well, ok, there’s another new term. What makes a gravy dry anyway?
The typical ingredients listing is nice and there are a comforting number of things with which I am familiar: fenugreek, galanga (from Thai cuisine), lime leaves, turmeric, aniseed, cumin, coriander, clove, cardamom and star anise, for instance. And I shall definitely look forward to preparing something with Candlenut (Buah keras) and Averrohoa Bilimbi (Belimbung Buloh in Malay) as those two are completely new to me.
I’m also pretty excited about the coconut pancake (lemping kelapa) but, no, my version won’t have the durian option.