A month ago my friend was on holiday in America. While I haven’t heard much about the trip, he did end up raving about a Malaysian hawker-like-restaurant that had opened up in Seattle called “Kedai Makan”, which literally translates to “Food Shop” in English.
So, after a week of indifference* and an attempting a small reprieve from assignments, I decided to Google it. What I found was an article by Ruchika Tulshyan from SeattleGlobalist**, titlte “Malaysian food hits Capitol Hill, eating instructions provided”. The article talks about the restaurant’s owner’s Kevin Burzell and Alysson Wilson who were inspired by their trip to Asia, particularly Malaysia.
The great thing about the article was that it was written from a Singaporean’s perspective. Being Malaysia’s neighbouring country, Ruchika fully appreciated the flavours that Mr Burzell and Wilson introduced to Seattle. The better part of the article is that it highlights how the owners decided to keep to the spirit of a hawker-style food joint by making the Malaysian food their own, and not being too fussed about being too similar to the hawkers back in Malaysia***.
Another thing about the article that I found amusing was the fact that the owners of Kedai Makan had to educate their guests on what they were eating, but how to eat it as well, apparently their visitors didn’t know what to do with the side soup:
“We get people asking if they should pour the broth into the noodles and we need to explain: No, it’s to sip on the side to enhance the flavors,” says Burzell”
And boy, do I know how they feel! The first time I made Nasi Lemak for my friends, they kept asking me why would anyone serve rice with a hard-boiled-egg, and without any gravy… But that didn’t compare to “ARE YOU CRAZY?!” questions I got when I served them a corn porridge (Bubur Jagung) for dessert. ****
But don’t get me wrong; sharing one’s cultural food is not a tedious process, especially not for me. And I am very happy that there are people out there who are freely sharing my country’s flavours to the rest of the world, the more the better I say.
What do you guys think about sharing your culture and food?
PS: In honour of Malaysian hawker food, I have posted a recipe of my favourite hawker dish!
*Alex, if you are reading this I apologise. But thanks for the cool update! I owe you a curry puff.
**It quite a cool local news site for people by the ‘International Population’ of Seattle… If you lived in Seattle that is. But what’s more relatable to me than Malaysian food in a foreign space?
*** I believe the authenticity when it comes to Malaysian food isn’t preciseness, like I said I do it all by agak-agaking my way through a dish. Most Malaysians do the same, so its great seeing others embrace the way we cook our dishes.
**** These two incidents however didn’t compare to the time my mother tried feeding my aussie friends deep fried cow lungs in chilli paste.