Tuesday, May 16, 2006

String Hoppers

Sharanya's posted up eating a $5 plate of string hoppers, I think of my father by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha over on our poetry blog : it's all about the power of food to define who we are and to bring back memories.

$5 for a plate of string hoppers? I used to pay - wait for it - £7 (almost RM50!) for a single utthapam when I was back in London, and it was nowhere near as good as the ones I enjoyed at a tatty hole-in-the-wall place in Cheras for less than RM2 ... but somehow still worth it.

My funniest food moment came one day at Heathrow when I was on my way back to visit my family in England. I got stopped by a beturbaned Sikh customs officer who wanted to search my luggage.

Out came all these little plastic bags containing dried leaves and powders and some stinky resinous stuff which he held at arms length suspiciously.

They're my spices, I pleaded. I need to cook my Malaysian food ...

It was such a funny piece of brown/white/asian/British role reversal!

The picture below is Romesh Gunaskera's drawing String Hoppers which I purloined from the South Asia Diaspora Literature and Arts Archive from which I stole pictures of his drafts some time back.

I'm feeling hungry now!


Anonymous said...

You'd think a Sikh would understand. They cook with pretty pungent spices too :)

Sharanya Manivannan said...

Nice to see the poem stirred up memories of your own, Sharon. :)