Favourite places,  Malaysia,  Round the world

Kilometer 33 286: on the Malay culinary Mecca and the capital of murals

I spent 1,5 hours in h&m trying on clothes that I a) didn’t want, b) didn’t need, c) didn’t like, d) didn’t intent to buy. Aha! I can see you looking for the solution in the mysterious meanders of female logic. That’s not the right path. There was good air con in h&m.

Having cooled down a bit in h&m (you can only imagine how enthusiastically Piotrek went into the store with me!), we take a stroll around Georgetown – the culinary Mecca of Malaysia and the Asian capital of murals.

The sky above Georgetown was hanging still. A heat-hardened Malay man[1] was deep frying bananas and jackfruit in pancake batter, sweat dripping from his forehead. My sight lingered on the trajectory of the drops, but none of them seemed to make its way into the pan, so we got some of his snacks.

Jackfruit got promoted to the position of my favourite food. It’s not just about the taste, more about the multi-purposeness and its ambiguous nature: jackfruit is deceptively similar to durian, the fruit infamous for its lethal odour. Since it looks like that, anyone who is neither a zombie nor Asian will walk away, which means – more for us! And once we dig into this giant (did you know it’s the biggest fruit in the world?), it turns out that it consists of fresh and sweet chunks with enormous stones inside and tough, stringy tissue around them.

And so I would throw these stones away every time until I thought – and what if we cooked them? So we did. Result: boiled chestnuts! And another time we go out for lunch and see jackfruit curry. I have it and I like it, without any idea what I’m actually liking, since I cannot see any jackfruit, only chunks of a succulent whatsit. After an insightful analysis Piotrek figured out that hereby this is the tissue that we had been profaning this whole time. So it turns out that using one fruit one can make three mouth- watering dishes that will feed a house full of guests. Awesome!

This is what jackfruit looks like on a tree…
… and this is what it looks like on a plate (on the right, to the left we have another one of my Asian discoveries – tempeh)

Food is the only religion which unites all the people of multicultural Malaysia. The two primary pilgrimage centres are Georgetown and Melaka. The cities bloom with food courts and hawker centres where each stall specializes in one or two dishes. Everybody knows where to find the best laksa, spicy coconut soup, who serves the crispiest chicken with the most aromatic pandan rice, which dirty, sweaty uncle has the ideal oyster omlette and which auntie is the queen of popiah, an indigenous type of burrito. Moreover,  when the local Chinese want to ask you “how are you?”, they actually say “have you eaten?”. Be careful with what you answer! The Chinese can never let their guests walk away hungry.

So you tell me – is there a better country for tasting?

Laksa served in elegant china
Banana leaf is one perverse item on the menu! That’s a name of the dish, but in fact it means that you get your food on a banana leaf instead of a plate.
Cendol is a dessert made of shaved ice with coconut milk, palm sugar syrup (gula mekala) tapioka and red beans. They say you’ve got to try to understand. I tried, but I still don’t understand.

[1] I bet that in South East Asia they put hot stones on newborns in a sauna. Without such preparation, a human wouldn’t be able to survive in the local climate.


Chinese temples door to door with mosques – that’s Malaysia!


This one is my favourite 🙂

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