“Okay, let’s go shopping, and you can get anything you want”, said I trying the retail therapy approach that I heard so much about. I saw a flicker of interest and some signs of life. An hour later we were making our way to China Town following our hearts’ desire to buy everything and anything edible in China Town, from Coconut juice to fresh yellow noodles and belacan and all kinds of Oriental products. With whatever energy left in us, we dragged the over loaded shopping trolley to Soho in search of fresh fruits and vegetables as they are known to go quite cheap at that time of the day. Soho, during the day is quite respectable. The fruit and vegetable market cammouflages the more seedy business that comes to life as darkness falls. The surau that sits snugly between shops of dubious nature advertising anything from Oriental massage to promises of full fledge whipping, was full of activities as people went in for asar prayers. Its a strange little place, this Soho.
I got my fruits for the day and was about to make our way to Selfridges for fish, when I saw a fish stall selling mackerals at a quarter of what Selfridges would have charged us. The reason I had always bought fish from Selfridges was because of the guaranteed freshness. I am not a great fish eater but a fussy one. But while there I planned to buy some krispy krim doughnuts and child number three can also do her retail therapy there. But as it happens, we were too tired to carry on. So it was five whole mackerals from the cute little stall at the top of Berwick Street and Nona had to make do with two novels, one by Maya Angelou and the other by Zadie Smith. That should keep her quiet for a few more days.
I had plans for those unsuspecting mackerals. Since the start of Ramadan it had been lamb curry, lamb kicap, chicken sambal but no fish. So I had plans for those mackerals and disturbing visions of Ubi setela's creation for her berbuka loomed large before my eyes. Yes, it has got to be Ikan belah belakang sumbat sambal – and I am sure it has a more glamorous name than that. Sambal belacan features prominently of course as I have at last stock up on belacan. And the sotong will do just fine, swimming merrily in the sambal tumis amongst bits and pieces of petai that used to be contraband goods in our household. Now, we are told it has medicinal qualities, so stinking breath not withstanding, the sotong sambal will be with petai.
Among the crowded shelves in one of the shops in China Town, I found a gem of an item and even as I slipped it into my shopping basket, I drooled shamelessly into my sleeves. It was one of those soft (smelly) ikan kering and properly fried with slices of onions and chillies, it can certainly stand on its own with steaming hot rice. That should complete the menu and all I needed now is the look of approval around the table.
Actually, cooking for my lot is not difficult. Take hubby for instance. Nak makan apa? Apa-apalah ( as in nak pi mana? mana-manalah!). And even if you slaved over the stove for two hours or two minutes, the reaction would be the same. Hmmm sedap! Anyway, all the above didn’t materialise until last night because I was too tired after lugging all those foodstuff halfway across London. So we made do with mee hailam (hmmm sedap!) and Nona tried her culinary skills at toasted bagels with soft cream cheese and smoked salmon. What a weird combination. But there you are. I never promised that we are a normal family.
Tonight will be my first berbuka night out as I dine with fellow bloggers Pu1pu3 and ewok at Holiday Villa. The buffet menu is just fantastic and at £16.00 per person – it should be. But I will just have to nibble because at 8.30 there’s a proper dinner invitation at the same venue. Kak Teh will have to try her level best and behave as the guest of honour is a former Agong. Watch this space!
UPDATE: Well, I was such a glutton tahap maksima. For berbuka I had two helpings of crab sambal and was well into the next course of nasi ayam when I was reminded thatI had another dinner at 8.30.
At the proper dinner - true enough I couldnt let anything in anymore - not the scallops, not the satay nor the nasi goreng kampung. BUT I couldnt resist the lobsters. Sorry tak boleh ambik gambar - sebab nanti nampak tak senonoh sangat, kan?