26 April 2010

rice-wine making revisited

There's so much rice at home now that I feel guilty about it. Mom keeps sending us more. Not knowing what to do about it, I finally forced myself to give rice-wine making a go again. I cajoled two of my brothers to join in my 'project' and to my delight, they agreed without much convincing.

To start off, I had to call my mom for advice on the dos and donts. It has been years since my last go on it and I didn't want to go wrong. Mom said I have to try making just a few cups first to see if my sasadan "rice sprinkled with yeast" still makes good rice wine. I have to cook some rice, pound some yeast (home made by mom naturally), let the rice cool, sprinkle yeast on it then put it in an airtight container. To make sure it is really airtight, I should tighten the lid with plastic food wrap.

So I cooked 10 cups of rice to be our trial. Since there are some red rice that my kids do not really favour, I decided to use them for variety. I scrubbed my lazy-susan clean and scooped out the rice to cool. Then I divided it into three portions; the largest one for my youngest brother to sasad "sprinkle with yeast", the medium one for me and the smallest one for my other brother. The reasoning? Well, this youngest brother of mine often produces tasty rice wine. Mine is towards bitter tasting but always with a lot of wine, and the other brother hardly ever made any. We are not allowed to do the yeast sprinkling at the same time for fear of spoiling the product. After one portion is done, it had to be put in the container, before continuing with the next portion. According to the Dusun's belief, different palms that touch the yeast produce rice-wine of different tastes.

There, we have done it. Two weeks later we would know the result of our rice-wine making attempt. Hoping that I still have the flair for that!

22 April 2010

parai wagu "new rice"

The Dusuns have all kind of sacred beliefs when it comes to food especially rice. My mom sent us some parai wagu last weekend, having finally had the time to have some husked. She has started harvesting a month ago but as usual never had the time to enjoy her early harvest.
(Parai wagu smells really good and it is even more so for some types of rice. The texture is also different, more glutinous when cooked.)
The thing is, when a Dusun gives you some parai wagu, you are supposed to ask whether the harvest owner has already started cooking from that batch of harvest first. If not, you are supposed to wait until they have, before you can cook the rice yourself. Since I kept forgetting to call my mom to ask whether she has done that, I had to wait a few days before I could finally make sumptous porridge this morning. Normally after two days the harvest owner would have cooked from it. Unlike my mom-in-law who, everytime when giving us parai wagu, always tells us when can we start cooking the rice, my mom normally just assumes that we know when...
Failure to observe the belief will bring harms to the harvest owner. No one I know has ever experienced it, but supposedly it will cause significant reduction on the next cycle of harvest :-)

13 April 2010

the colour white

Looking at Maia the car this morning, I decided that her wash is well overdue. Well she's white and the muddy road condition since the past few days of rain had ensured that she looked messy. So I took her to the car wash a few blocks away from home. It wasn't opened yet but the lady who sells kuih at a stall nearby told me to just park the car there and give the key to the man wearing a white shirt sitting under the tree.

So off I went in search of a man in white under the tree. There were two men, one wearing a blue shirt, and the other, pale grey. I looked at them and it occured to me that probably the lady means grey when she said white. After all she is obviously a Dusun, judging from her accent when she speaks Malay. I remember that my late grandmother would call any pale colour 'white'. And there's even a type of chilli that to me is pale-yellow, that the Dusuns call lado do topurak "white chilli". I asked them if any of them happens to be the owner of the car wash, and true enough, the man in grey is!
(my lado'd topurak, after two weeks in the fridge!)

09 April 2010

Guntalou- neighbour oh neighbour

The word guntalou keeps haunting me since yesterday. It means "coward" or to a lesser extent, "not very brave" in Dusun. Well, not referring to myself. It's kind of funny in an annoying way actually. A neighbour, apparently unhappy with my son and nephews left an "angry note" in my mailbox yesterday. The note says that my son had been tormenting her daughter's kitten on the road the other day when I wasn't at home, and that she (or he?) was looking out from the window, and that if that happens again, s/he will take action and that KAMU AKAN TAHU "you will know".

There was no name or address written on the note. Understandably, the neighbour was angry. So I interrogated my son and nephews. They admitted to being naughty i.e to let the puppy of my nephews chase after the kitten. Sternly I gave them a lecture on animal cruelty and ordered them to apologise to the little girl soon. Kids being kids, they didn't even know 'which little girl'. My cousin, the nephew's Dad took his eldest son (that's my nephew who's sort of the ring leader of the boys) knocking on people's doors to find out who the angry neighbour was and to apologise last night.

Well, I know the boys are wrong, and I do feel that they really should apologise and learn not to be too playful to the extent of tormenting animals. And of course I'm going to make sure that I remind them of this every now and then. But dear neighbour, I wish s/he talked to me in a more direct manner. At least give me a name and an address so I can do the right thing. Instead, here I am left with the thought that somebody is being so guntalou...