Derumo

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Other Nuts

Tok Ku- It was a very nutty weekend for you at the lake in the old TTDI. That’s the man-made lake for recreation - jogging, just walking, “Tai Chi” or toy boating. When TTDI Lake was first completed, some rascals went on motor bike on the track. On the other hand, the new successful TTDI (TTDI Jaya) was naturally converted by the recent flash flood into a big lake where the inhabitants have to use real boat to escape from the rising water. They did not loose only the nuts but lots of damaged properties in terms of soaked car engines and household items – an estimated loss of RM 100 million. So, the toy boat nut is just a small peanut... The TTDI Lake is the place where during weekends, the pensioners who attended the dawn prayers and lectures (kuliah subuh) at the Attaqwa mosque will change from the holy attire of kopiah, sarong pulicat or thob, baju melayu to track suit and running shoes to jog / walk on the track around the lake. However, now and then, they will meet sweet young ladies wearing revealing jogging shorts and bulging T shirts on the track and then, the pahala (religious merits) obtained for the dawn lectures will be heavily discounted.

As you jog along the rubber track at the hilly part of the lake, you can see the plastic sachet on the rubber trees. The use of LITS (Light Intensity Tapping System) is a modern method of tapping rubber that reduced requirements. LITS process is simple. First, the rubber trunk is stimulated with gas (some sort of vegetative foreplay!). Then, the trunk is poked with a long hard hollowed metal rod. The white liquid (latex) will then flow out into the plastic bag to be collected once a week. Nowadays, rubber is very valuable at more than RM 7.00 per kilogramme as compared to only 70 sen per kilogramme. This windfall price is due to the high cost of petroleum based synthetic rubber and high from P.R. China – for making tyres, gloves as well as the “ one finger glove” for birth control and AID prevention purposes. But smell of rubber (like the unwashed moist socks) reminds of the smelly environment and many other smelly things in the kampongs and also of the Lee Rubber factory once situated in was in Gombak. At times, the smelly things are very nice and appetizing – like anchovy sauce (budu), the prawn sauce (cencalok) and fish perkasam /jeruk. Other than the cup lump rubber, there are other smelly things (if not hygienically kept) that are also very, very nice …… (Censored)

Nuts are very relevant to the TTDI Lake especially with the presence of the relatively urbanized monkeys that inhabited the lakeside hills. They were looking for food and often trying to befriend the joggers. Sometimes, the young baby monkeys hanging upside down under the mothers tummy looked very pitiful. If the monkey were to multiply fast enough, their population will soon be more than the morning or evening joggers. Perhaps, the offer of some peanuts may pacify them but they are more sophisticated and won’t mind to be given KFC, Pizza, McDonald or the left over from takeaways from Rasta or Maqbul.

The groundnut or peanut from Mengelembu, Ipoh is very famous. It used to be a part of Chinese New Year celebration dish besides oranges and aerated water. That’s before they are malaysianized with the catering fried meehoon, rendang, satay and Penang laksa. What is left is the peanut gravy ( kuah kacang) for satay, ketupat or pressed rice (nasi hempit). Now, even the peanut gravy is commercially packed by Brahim, Adabi etc. with a bit of lecah taste. The fried groundnuts are more tasty and aromatic as compared to the boiled and dried salty groundnuts. However, the local variety has small nuts with limited number per pod as compared to the peanuts grown by the former American President - Jimmy Carter. So, the local groundnuts are also vanishing and being replaced by the big, fat imported variety from US and even China. Even local peanuts are going to be lost due to the economic globalization. That’s in addition to the imported soft IKEA furniture gradually wiping out the indigenous handicraft and household furnitures and fixtures made of beautiful tropical hardwwood.

There another interesting nut, namely, pistachio. The Malay called it “Kacang Cerdik’ (the clever nut) because it will split opens upon ripening. These nuts are located at the end branches of big trees and difficult to harvest. So, a harvester machine was invented which hold, shake and vibrate the trunk until all the ripe pistachio dropped off into a net. . The same technique is used for harvesting olive fruits.There are other nut-like things which need to be shaken by vibrator but with different shape and size and for different purpose. The flavoured pistachio nut is found in the Mediteranean market and Middle East bazaars. This pistachio nut is also difficult to find here because they are very expensive.

Next is the cashew nut, i.e., jambu golok @ gajus @ketereh. The semi curled nut is attached externally to the fruit wrapped in a natural plastic-like pericarp. In the East Coast, they thrive on the marginal Bris soils which bears fruit to coincide with the squid season (candat sotong). The techniques of “grilling” the cashew nut was unique which was usually done on the sandy ground under the coconut tree. First, a layer of dried coconut leaves with the fronds was laid on the sand. The raw cashew nuts were arranged on these leaves, which were then covered with another layer of dried coconut leaves. When the leaves were torched, the plastic-like nut shell released and burned the gas like the gas stoves. Using a small wood baton or small rocks, the blackened cashew nuts were knocked open to peel off the aromatic burnt nuts. Be careful of the gum (getah) from the pericarp, if it gets to your lips or chin; you will have the kudis there. It is difficult to find these freshly burnt cashew nuts anymore and the art of burning them is dying. The cashew nuts found in nasi beriyanni, chocolates or tarts are mainly imported from India or Sri Lanka.

The other nut is the Penang nut (No, I am not referring to you, Lucia). The Penang Island gets its name from this “buah pinang” but it is vanishing fast and being replaced by the nutmeg (buah pala). May be Lucia will consider to rename it as Pulau Pala or Nutmeg Island. The areca nut is an important ingredient in the betel leaf (sireh) chewing. However, this nut is also difficult to find nowadays which are used for ceremonial purpose at the engagement and wedding. The nut is sliced into thin pieces with a unique cutting instrument the “hand guillotine” (kacip pinang). So, the famous herbal plant known as “Kacip Fatimah” can be literally translated as “Fatimah’s Guillotine”. One can image the power of Fatimah’s grip with sharp slicy movements... This has to be equally matched by Tongkat Ali roots (Ali’s Walking Stick) whose long tap roots is hard and solid. By the way, the Ginseng roots from Korea should be renamed “Tongkat Kim” since the common name in Korea is Mr. Kim.

There are the nuts used to make chocolates and the special “chocolaty taste” is derived from the fermentation of the cocoa nuts / seeds. This fermentation process will create the “tapai” taste. There are also other nuts used inside being embedded in the chocolates – Brazilian nuts, almond nut, hazelnut etc. The Brazilian nut has a funny bashed up shape. The hazel nut is pointed with the size of finger tip and similar to Hazel’s nut (if you have seen or touched one). These nuts are also difficult to find since they are very expensive and are now being substituted by the cheaper locally fried groundnuts.

The biggest nut in the world is nut from the coco palm tree-the coco nuts which is different from the cocoa nut. There are also the inedible nuts which are also difficult to find. There are the rubber nuts with lovely lines like tigers and they were used for batu selambut or anak congkak. The saga nut ( biji saga) is red in color used to be played in a game of colek – and push the seed with the small fingers and if they hit each other , the two saga nuts are yours. However, the young children were always curious often shaft into their nostrils. The entry into the nostril will end them in the emergency ward. The myth if it stays there the saga tree will grow from your nose. The saga nuts are difficult to find nowadays but the nuts for the proton saga are plenty.

There are the human who are nuts. In this rapidly moving urban society, many of its member is going nuts – as evidenced by many criminals who gone nuts and committed suicidal acts. The strain and stress of the urban life drive them nuts. and we heard of rape, outraging modesty, breast groping etc. Well, the girls have to know a very important nut tip against these nuts. A kick at his nuts at the groin will immobilize them. The two hands /fingers can be used as nut cracker mechanism by squeezing them hard . This is different from the male ballet dancer whose bulging nuts look very indecent and very distractive too. The same is with the cyclists of Le Tour de Langkawi where the winner is crowned on the stage. Some how the bulging nuts of the winner look very vulgar and one cannot take away the eyes from them. It is proposed that in Malaysia, the male ballet dancer and male cyclists should wear the traditional “samping” to hide these rather indecent bulging nut

2 Comments:

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