Chan-che asked as she cut up the cempedak which had been sitting in a corner of the kitchen for three days. Its ripening aroma was driving me nuts but the timing must be right if we want to eat it at its ripest and most succulent point. Finally my mother said it was ready to eat and Chan Che cut it up with an oiled knife. One look inside and she said, I doubt there's more than 10 seeds inside. My mother took over next, scooping up each piece of creamy pulped seed into a bowl.
There were only 6 seeds, pathetic indeed. Mother urged me to eat all of them, after two seconds of hesitation I plunged right in, thanking her appreciatively. The flesh was sweet and creamy, the distinct pungent aroma left me wanting more. Mum peeled the bits of flesh around the inside of the husk, these were equally delicious.
Our trip home was kicking good. It would be an understatement to say that we were spoiled rotten by our families and friends. From the moment we landed till the time we took the taxi to Changi airport we and our tummies were well taken care of. In Singapore we stayed with the Lims, well known for their unstinting generosity and kindness. When we arrived at their house at 7 a.m. we found our breakfast waiting for us: home-cooked nasi lemak. On other mornings we enjoyed the likes of beef hor-fun, roti prata and mee goreng. Their cook even made dinner for V every night. This and so many other personal hospitality touches prove them the most perfect hosts, we were very fortunate indeed.
Back home in KL, my mum was not in a cooking mood. She was short of one helper in the kitchen so she decided that we would eat out more often. Anyway, she is not the type to cook fancy breakfasts, a pot of congee or the occasional fried beehoon would be the most she would stretch to in the mornings. Breakfasts is more likely to consist of takeaway chee cheong fun from the Bangsar market or whatever is available in the kitchen. This time round, what was available were papayas, plucked from her tree in half-ripened stage and wrapped in newspaper to continue ripening safely away from the birds that visit her vegetable and fruit garden.
There were about 4 or 5 pieces in various stages of ripening. Every morning I unwrapped them to pick the ripest specimen, and that would be breakfast shared between me and V. I love the papaya from my mother's garden, she grows them as organically as she can and the fruit is very sweet without that faint sickly smell associated with Malaysian papayas.
For husband, he was very happy to come home one day to a bowl of pig stomach soup. Mother had especially ordered four pieces of stomachs from the butcher. The thoroughly cleaned stomachs were packed with fresh whole peppers before boiling. Surprisingly clear tasting and yet meaty, and delicious too. Husband had two big bowls.
Not pictured but this time round we hit jackpot with our durian eating. We arrived in full season. In Singapore we enjoyed a late supper of designer "Cat Mountain" durians but these pale to the special kampung durians from Malacca that our maternal grandmother gave to our mother. These were so delicious we ate and ate until our stomachs threatened to burst- the seeds were tiny, the flesh creamy and melting, all tantalising with their mutlifaceted sweet-bitterness and amazing bouquet. Lousy durians are a waste of calories but good durians is the secret to world peace. Once they figured out how to transport it without setting off sniffer dogs and the smell police.
Less odoriferous perhaps and more transportable are twisties and murukku which I loaded up one check-in baggage of to remind me of home. The chickpea murukku was bought at an Indian grocery stall at the Machap rest-stop along the North South highway, they were very good being judiciously spiced and freshly made. It also puzzles me a little that the Twisties packet states that it should be sold only in Malaysia. I hope they don't take my stash before I have a chance to finish them!