The themed challenge had me cracking my heads off even whilst I was on holidays. I had all sorts of ideas to begin with initially, like my favourite street food Kueh Tutu, the MIL’s rice dumplings (because it so happened that she just made us some).
Probably even some suggested far-fetched ideas like a tear-wrenching story to add some juice to the otherwise plain simple story to begin with. Hahaha… But I decided against all odds and eventually decided to settle on some truthful, realistic and down-to-earth blogging instead.
After all, I wish that this blog can be a recollection of beautiful memories and stuffs that I could look back upon when I grow old and senile. So it has to be originate from some kind of “truth-based” stories.
Though it’s gonna be nothing short of a fanciful tale, but the inspirations and heart-felt warmth and gratitude to HER has to be beyond words.
Even though sista and I grew up from a not-so-well-to-do family, but SHE has never failed to give us all the best, caring and fending for us in the day whilst working part time jobs in the wee hours of the night when we are asleep. Tough life it seems, but not a word of complaint or grumble in those years. It’s every home-cooked meal that was lovingly prepared that we grew up upon.
However, over the years, especially during our rebellious stage, we started to find that going back home for dinner every single night is such a pain staking chore. We started to dislike reporting back home for dinners, or even the hassle of calling back to inform whether we will be going back or not already too cumbersome for words. Very often, food is wasted when we simply had no more space for the already cooked dinner by the supper time we got back.
Seriously, come back to think of it now, I am beginning to feel that I am getting “karma” of some sorts…. Especially when the man doesn’t come back for the dinner I prepared too. It’s been so many years thereafter that I started to feel HER kind of heart wrenching disappointment back then. Though its nothing serious as you may say, after all it’s just a meal ? But hey, to a home-cooked chef, every meal that’s prepared for the loved ones means.
When we started to grow even older and eventually moved out to our own space, most of the ta pau or MSG meals from outside has gotten our taste-buds numb. And when I say this, it’s not exaggerating, to the extent we find that almost every single meal tasted more or less simliar. This generally happens after 5 years of dine-out experience.
I started to crave for HER cooking. I started to cook my own meals. I started to trace back HER cooking style. I started to ask HER for directions to cook.
HER is HER.
THE MAMA ~ HER from the 60s.
Because I had such a problem with eating fish as a kid, being a careless one with fish bones, Mama never fails to ensure that every fish meal that was prepared had minimal bones contents, like threadfin, cod fish or Spanish mackerel, otherwise she would remove the bones painstakingly and has them cut into small slices.
So I rarely had a full fish meal, except during the festive season. But her Teochew-styled steamed fish is nevertheless one of the best of its kind that I am longing for !
And here’s a recent conversation we had over messaging when I wanted to prepare this dish.
Though I think I am quite lame by asking whether I could substitute pickled lettuce with salted vegetable, that probably would have changed the whole taste all together. Nevertheless, because I wanted so much to rejuvenate that authentic Mama’s cooking favor again, I made the effort to gather all the correct ingredients in place.
And sure it does, Mama’s cooking reignited !! With that, you can be sure of more and more of Mama’s inspired cooking materialised as I progressed along with her directions.
Though Mama is getting on in age and health and doesn’t cook that often anymore, but she has never failed been a walking recipe whenever I need one…. And I certainly hope that this will continues in the many many more years to come.
Last but not least, though old fashioned as it may seem, but the verses of treasuring the existing moments are dreadfully true. We can never chase back time, but we can certainly do our utmost to keep every moment well-lived by embracing our loved ones. Nothing else matters seriously, other than them.