So Much Food, So Little Time.....

After taking an amazing tour of Old Ironsides this past Sunday, we took a trip into Boston’s Chinatown, in search of Malaysian cuisine – rich in vegetables, with sauces that have incredibly healthy coconut milk as foundation.

My husband researched restaurants ahead of time, discovering Penang had great reviews. We were on a mission, in search of Laksa, a Maylaysian soup for which there are hundreds of recipes and thousands of condiments from which one might choose to grace its surface creating variations as unique as individual taste.

Once seated, hot tea accompanied the menus. It was then we encountered our first problem of a long, lovely day. There were too many amazing items on the menu from which to choose. Malay cuisine is a wonderful mix, a “Best Of” including satay, nasi lemak, rendang, roti canai, murtabak, laksa – dishes from countries near ‘n far, influenced by ancient trade routes including China, north and south India, Thailand and even Portugal.

The wait-staff didn’t seem happy about having to wait one teapot refill for our order. Finally, we decided the best way to handle indecision was to order the top six that looked good to us.

Pencil poised over his order pad, our waiter hesitated, asking, “So? You order this before when you here?”
“No”, I said, “This is our first time.”
“I not sure you like,” he said, pencil still frozen mid-air.
“Do you think it is good?”, I asked.
Disgruntled, his facial expression flashed, “That’s a stupid question”, but to his credit he said, “Yes, yes, of course, I like, but if you have not had this, you might not like.”

Being of the “Won’t know until I try” mindset, I countered with, “If you like, I like.” Shaking his head, he wrote down our order, doubt written all over his face.

He was oh, so right and oh, so wrong. We did not like anything we ordered. We loved it all. In a strange way, the reaction from the wait-staff was one of curiosity – one with which we are not unfamiliar in our travels. It seems that most Scandinavian-Caucasians are more palate-challenged. It is yet one more reason why our German/Scandinavian parents never “understood” us, asking, “How can you both like such strange, spicy foods……….”. But yet, it was one more reason why my husband and I are perfectly suited for each another.

And, this little eating adventure proved one more thing to me, that after 20 years of marriage, I’m still able to surprise my husband. As we walked away from the restaurant, he grabbed my hand, looking at me with a renewed respect.

“You know, honey, that Nasi Lemak dish that you ordered?”

“Yes”, I crooned, “that was heavenly with the contrast between hot and cold, acidic and sweet, spicy and mild…..”……….

“Well,”, he continued, “I just want to say that I would never have thought you’d enjoy a dish like that…….

“Was it the whole anchovies, heads, eyes, fins, scale and all, that you thought would do me in?”

“Yes”, he nodded emphatically, “normally you make me decapitate whole-creature foods. There was that time in Ireland……..”.

Both children threw their hands over their ears beseeching him, “Please, Dad! Not that story again!”

Speaking of children…..

There are moments in a parent’s life… Pride over their first steps…….their first words…..their first chapter book. But for me, when the majority of American children think dining out means a hot dog and French fries, well, I was nearly bursting watching mine gobble down bites of everything, keeping pace with us. No wrinkled noses – and there were plenty of new smells to have warranted that reaction! Both of them looked at the food a bit suspiciously (no doubt following my example) but grabbed their chopsticks or Chinese soup spoons saying, “Okay, I’ll give that a try”. It was delightful to see their eyes widen and hear them say, “Oh, that’s really good…..”.

Now, my goal is to re-create some amazing Malaysian foods at home, one dish at a time….

  1. Thanks for linking to me. I tried the Assam Laksa in this restaurant before and remember that it was very cook and authentic. :)

    Rasa Malaysia    Jun 8, 03:34 AM    #
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