Tham Jiak means in some way "love to eat" in Hokkien. I am a Malaysian Hokkien and truly love to eat.

Friday, September 21, 2007

In the Term of Food

It was after my work hours yesterday, but I was still at office at that time surfing through the net to de-stress by reading about, what else, food. Then I came across one of my all-time favourite blog, Traveler’s Lunchbox, she mentioned in regards to the term of food-loving people calling themselves foodie. Ah, such is the wonder of human, where terms are formed to describe what usual words cannot. But when it started the common usage of it by everyone, ironically, it might be entirely differently for each of them who expresses it.

A quick search through my 2 year old blog and I found that I had subconsciously used the term in two entries. Well at that time, the term is hot, I read it everywhere, I coined the meaning in my own terms to my vocabulary, and it just spilled off to my writings. What did I meant at that time when I used that term? I certainly do not mean that I’m a food-snob for sure, far from it in fact.

Then later on, in so many posts, how did I manage to describe myself then without using the political term foodie? A quick self-reflection and I found that I had indeed found the term to call myself for someone who loves to cook and experiment in bringing tastes together, thrilled at the thought of seeking good food, revel in reading food stories and recipes, excited when trying out new myriad of tastes, eyes lit up in sight of food, and loves to tuck in to good food. I had this term right at the birth of this blog itself, yes the term, tham jiak. Although it might not encompass all the above mentioned attributes, true hokkien linguist might say, but to me it somehow does. Let me quote now “term lies in the heart of the speaker”.

The term tham jiak, as per the anonymous comment in my self-introduction post, he/she mentioned that it actually means a person who greedily wants to eat. That would not be wrong, but it certainly does not mean just that. We call someone tham jiak, when he/she springs to food stalls, eye looking greedily but not necessarily eats it. We call another tham jiak, when his/her eyes lit up when we bring them food gifts, but not necessarily eats it all greedily but instead shares good food around. We call another tham jiak, when the person discusses about food excitedly, promotes where and where to eat, as well as seeks out more information on where to get good food next. We call one tham jiak, if he/she reads about a food, not knowing where to get it, but literally wants to taste it, and goes all the way out just to make it so that able to try it and then definitely, if good, shares it with loved ones. I would say Remy in Ratatouille, is a tham jiak rat, as how he defines food in such a way, but of course with talent to boot. It’s like how one would go all the way out just for food, in any way. Just look at his picture above, the ultimate tham jiak face, as one of my friend once said.

After the inception of my blog, where I start to be more open of my tham jiak-ness, yet though many acquaintances of mine still do not know I am the writer behind this blog, I had somehow been coined with the term tham jiak. It is like self fulfilling prophecy I might say. Anyhow, I am proud to be tham jiak, I would still religiously keep adding recipes in my ever piling up to-do list, hoping someday I would have the time and place to try it all out while having loved ones appreciating it with me. I would still keep on continue searching for good food out here in Malaysia and beyond as well, traveling to many places, trying out food as the locals eat it. Faling in love with new dish as well as learning to cook in new ways. Ah, what a life that would be for a tham jiak girl.

Monday, September 10, 2007

J Birthday: Short but Sweet Celebration

This is one birthday post after another. What does this represents? On flip side it meant I am slacking in my post, on the other good side is that my life has been real rich, full of celebration and happiness.

Before this I was in a midst of writing a heavily-emotion-laden post, but I got a writer’s block. I could not seem to convey all my feeling into the post as I used to always can. Has something gotten into me? Or is it just writer’s block? Or is it an occasion blockage due to overdose of changing, celebrating life and dreams that are piling high?

Anyway, since my brain is clogged, I shoved that post aside to draft and instead post up event instead. I would keep this post simple as well as fun as how it should be for it is a birthday post for J. Yes, it was a year since my bake out for J, and as a quote runs dry due to too many usages, I would still say that this time I am too busy to actually cook or bake anything. Thus I make a mental note for myself; I can and should cook regardless of the occasion whenever I had the chance.

Anyway, J treated his family to a lovely dinner at Tai Thong, where we filled our tummy to our hearts’ content.

First up was the stir-fried vegetable (I forgot the Chinese name, what more it’s English’s) with belacan. It was up to par with the usual Chinese eateries out there but the price was a tad bit ridiculous, above even meats.

Then it was the wu tau kau yok (braised pork belly with yam slices). What makes this dish special is the presents of nam yue (fermented red bean curd). I can’t seem to find more description of it, but let’s just say, it has an unique taste and it gives dishes pink hues. This wu tau kau yok is a dish where either you love it or you hate it. For me I used to dislike it, but now, the taste had somehow hooked on and thus, become a favourite of mine. The version here in Tai Thong was good, really home-cooked type. I’m not too sure though the origin of this dish, not Cantonese I suppose as my Ah Ma did not cook it, certainly don’t have those criterias. This dish is definitely not light literally or in spices term.

Anyway, next up was the yu pin chow keong (stir-fried fish slices with ginger). This was my favourite dish, as I love ginger (maybe unconsciously had cheered on due to fact it’s expelling air properties, which was usually what I need most). Besides, the fish slices was smooth and sweet, the ginger was just enough with the spring onions. Absolutely delish.

Then it was we also ordered claypot taufu with minced pork, nothing too spectacular but still delicious.

Besides this we also had nam yue pai kuat (fried pork ribs coated with fermented red bean curd). Nam yue again, you might ask, but it was nowhere similar to the wu tau kau yok, still with nam yue taste but definitely more prominent and just that. I had this dish elsewhere which was better and crispier. We also ordered Mooncake at the end as our dessert, as now mooncake is full of varieties due to research and development here, this one was a twist from the traditional flavour, snow skin beans with mashed egg yolk. I forgot to take picture for it, thus I took the liberty to cut out the picture from the website, please do not sue me. This mooncake was good, smooth filling, not too sweet and just enough flavouring. This is also the ping-pei type (chilled soft skin), in oppose to the baked ones.

Overall, I would say Tai Thong offered worth the money for the food and the atmosphere, but they seriously lack in their service part. So if they buck up on this area, it would be a really good place for family celebration or gatherings.

Summer Palace Chinese Restaurant (Damansara Utama)
101, Ground Floor, Wisma Dijaya
Jalan SS20/1, Damansara Utama
47400 Petaling Jaya
03 7726 8616
Mon - Sat
11.30am - 2.30pm
6.30pm - 10.30pm
Sun & Public Holidays
9.00am - 2.30pm
6.30pm - 10.30pm

Anyway, back to J. It is after all his birthday. This time, as I had said, I did not cook or bake. So where is the cake? Well, I wanted to get a special cake (as well I confessed that it fits well with my last minute buying), so I bought these cakes, yes cakes, from Secret Recipe (a well known cake house and café in Malaysia, more to that next time).

Isn’t it lovely? Well now everyone can taste a bit of everything, I tried to get all cheese cakes for it was J’s favourite, but I sneaked in a chocolate one (think of the love affair) as I could not resist and also not to forget it’s famous Chocolate Banana Cake, which J also likes very much.

I thought I said this would be a short post, well I guess my (tham jiak) brain start working again when it got to food. Nontheless, with tummies filled and sweet teeth satisfied, overall it was a good celebration, wouldn’t you agree?
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