Sunday, January 30, 2005

Fresh vs Frozen

When we go to the market to buy wet provisions especially during the weekends, we insisted that we should get all fresh food. We buy fresh fish, fresh chicken and fresh beef. fresh vegetables and even a fresh pack of belacan. We look at the frozen fish, chicken and beef as not that fit for human consumption. If we look at the price tag, the frozen things, the price is cheaper and it can be kept straight into the fridge. But our prejudice on those frozen things prevents us from buying them.
If we have our way, we would like to select the chicken from their smelly cages, feel their breast and inspect their anus and then see it being slaughtered, blood oozing and then dipped into the hot water before being turned centrifugally to remove the feathers. Its funny though that the English language use the term “ dressed chicken” to refer to the chicken being fully undressed of its feathers while the “ undressed” chicken are those fully clothed with feathers. On the other hand, dressed chicks are those fully clothed and undressed chicks are in their birthday suit in the center fold of playboy magazine
As for the fish, we will choose the chilled fish which still looks shiny. To check its freshness, we poke our fingers and fondle with the poor fish and if it is reasonably hard, we will take it. Those which are soft with red eyes and white gills are no good. When every customer has to check by this method, the poor fish get soft and lembek and develop the red eyes effect when shot with cameras (tahukah anda -in 1800 a law was passed that when the customer wants to buy tomatoes , she cannot pressed them faring it will damage them and those caught fondling the tomatoes will be given and mandatory jail sentence with twenty stroke of canning equivalent i.e. 20 times of pressing on whatever round soft tomato shaped organs )The frozen fish is hard with bright eyes and hard on were always put aside as unwanted frozen fish.
The frozen which is much cheaper then the fresh local beef is also avoided. It is interesting to note that the cattle is imported from India and slaughtered in the local abattoir ( the local term for the abattoir is Rumah Sembelih , All the rumah sembelih in Malaysia slaughter goats, cattle and cows and pigs except for one in Sarawak – Rumah Sembelih Kucing – The Cat’s Abbatoir” ) We prefer to buy fresh beef. If possible, we would like to see the butcher slicing the part from a hanging limb of the cattle. They would recommend certain parts of the hanging cattle limbs but we want to choose our own. They offer the softer fillet or silver side but we will disagree with them and choose the chuck and blade cuts which look very solid and fleshy but the toughest of them all. We pay almost twice the price as the fillet frozen beef. The pasar siang and pasar malam butchers are very clever – they buy one or two limbs of the cattle from the local abbatoir to hang and place chunks of thawed frozen beef (most of the time buffalo’s meat) imported from India and tell you that it was just sliced off from the hanging limbs and we buy the frozen beef at the price of the frsh hanging cattle limb. If you are asked for the bill for the purchase, it will be RM 14.00 consisting of RM 6.00 for the frozen beef plus RM 7.00 for looking and watching the hanging limbs of the local beef. That’s why among the butchers they nick named the hanging limbs as “wayang show”; you have to pay for watching it. The countable nouns for cattle is also interesting –the English language put it as three “ heads” of cattle while the Malays termed it as three “tails” of cattle. My theory on such opposite countable nouns used is based on the method of catching the cattle. The cowboys of America will catch their cattle by using strings and lasso and they have to get the heads to tie the neck. On the other hand, the Malays had to chase the cattle and catch them by the tails! That’s why there is a Malay proverb “lembu terlepas, tangan bau taik” – The cattle got away and you hands are left with the bull shit/ cow dung smell. Sometimes I wonder why the English termed shit for the cattle and dung for the cows? As for he Malays, it is always the same – tahi, taik, - taik lembu, taik ayam, taik hidung, taik mata and even taik judi and kuning taik.
Finally, we go back to our house we will put all the fresh fish, fresh prawns’ fresh chicken, fresh beef in the deep freezer which we bought to “deep freeze” those fresh provisions so that when we want to cook we prefer to take the frozen fish, chicken and beef and thaw them and then cook them. What’s the difference if we have bought the frozen ones at a cheaper price and hygienically prepared?