One of the first, and best thing I did was to sign up as a member of the Malaysian Association in France (MAF). The association is very active in organising gatherings for fellow Malaysians and their families e.g. a CNY lunch, charity bazaars, games and Merdeka Day celebrations.
For an important festival like Hari Raya they invited members to the Hari Raya Open House celebrations at the Malaysian Ambassador's residence. In true spirit of Malaysian hospitality people can just turn up, shake the Ambassador's hand, wish one another "Selamat Hari Raya"and after waiting a respectable interval, queue up for free food. Yes, free food in Paris, unbelievable but completely true.
Husband and I were excited, we were hoping that there would be satay. Turned out that satay was not on the menu, but something even better was available, i.e. Beef Rendang. With Lemang. Also Char Beehoon, Ayam Masak Merah, Ketupat and Achar. The falafel wasn't in the menu, we brought a batch to share. There were also some simple cakes and among the beverages, freshly brewed teh tarik.
The queue for the food moved slowly but it was worth the long wait for a taste of home, well actually I nearly shrieked out in joy after taking the first bite of the rendang. Like, move over 7-hour mijotes de boeuf, hello melting beef pieces coated in glorious spicy coconut cream reduction. My tastebuds, I swear, were hi-fiving with the sauce, so exuberant was their reacquaintance. It wasn't the best rendang I've ever tasted but for sure it was the most happy-making version.
To my friends and readers, I would like to wish you all a Selamat Hari Raya too!