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Monday, June 29, 2015

Soursop drink recipe : A peranakan concoction

      




Soursop drink recipe: A peranakan concoction

Recipe and photos courtesy of Alan Song

After all these years, most of my cousins and I can still remember the tree  _ the soursop tree or pokok durian belanda that grew at the side of grandpa's house in our small village of Batu Berendam, Melaka.. Although, the tree was laden with luscious ripe fruits, we paid scant attention to them and  the lucky beneficiaries were the fruit-eating birds. The early morning air would often be filled with their raucous calls as they feasted on the unpicked fruits and alerted their other feathered friends on their find. 



One of the soursop trees in Alan's garden, Seremban



However, today the soursop with their purported medicinal value and promoted as a cancer cure,  have become a much sought-after fruits and I am told a kilo of the fruit can cost as much as RM 12.00.



A ripe soursop on a tree

On one festive occasions, my cousin, Alan, prepared a drink made from soursop which was so refreshing and delicious that I  persuaded him to share his special recipe. 
With his kind permission I wish to share with you his recipe.

Ingredients

1. One ripe soursop

2. One bottle of ice-cream soda

3. Dried sour plum ( asam boi

Method

1, Choose a ripe soursop and peel it. The skin is relatively soft, so it      can be easily peeled with your hands. 
    



A basket filled with soursop and other fruits from
Alan's garden


2. Place the soursop flesh in a bowl and remove all the seeds.
    Add some sugar , if required.







3. Put the flesh in a blender and puree.







4. Pour the puree into a jug. Slowly, add ice-cream soda and stir until you have achieved the desired  taste. 
    






5. Add a piece of dried  sour plum ( asam boi ) to taste. 



Dried sour plum ( asam boi )
Photo credit: Flickr - photo sharing
6. The drink is best served chilled with or without ice cubes.





Notes: According to Alan, the soursop drink can be kept for months
            if it is placed in a freezer.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The old Malacca Museum: A glimpse from the past




















The old Malacca Museum: A glimpse from the past

By C S Wan


The muffled pounding of feet was the only noticeable sound heard, as I ascended the short flight of stairs. At the top floor, I caught a glimpse of a guard sitting motionless in a chair, a lone figure in the gloom of the dimly lit room. A musty smell permeated the air of the poorly ventilated room, redolent of a vacant house with prolonged neglect.

However, I was not stepping into an abandoned house, but was standing inside the first floor of the old Malacca museum.



The old Malacca Museum has been converted into the
Melaka Stamps Museum ( Muzium Setem Melaka)
Photo: 2015
The old Malacca Museum with an information board
on the wall.






History of the Building
" This building previously known as the Old Melaka Museum or
the Photo Shop was originally used as the residence of Dutch dignitaries
living in Malacca. During the British rule the building still retained its
original function until it was completely abandoned after the Second
World War. On 19th March 1954 G.E.W. Wisdom the Resident Commissioner
in Malacca, turned this building into a museum. However, in 1982 the museum
was moved to the Stadhuys building"





The Stadhuys ( Dutch town hall)


The museum, an 18th century Dutch building with salmon red fa├žade, nestled at the lower slope of St. Paul’s Hill and overlooked a field, beyond which was the Straits of Malacca. The end of the field near the museum was bordered by low concrete posts strung with iron chains to mark the position of a former shoreline while the other end of the field was occupied by a row of food stalls.




Low concrete posts which used to mark the shoreline have
been replaced with metal posts and chains..
Photo taken in 2015



The museum was within walking distance of the Drainage and Irrigation Department where I had just started work as a probationary Irrigation Inspector in the late 1950s. The Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) was housed on the top floor of another Dutch building while its ground floor was occupied by the Malacca Library.



The Drainage and Irrigation Department is now an
Architectural Museum ( Muzium Seni Bina)
Photo: 2015






A view of St. Paul's Hill from Muzium Seni Bina Melaka




 Next, to the DID building was the State Education Department which was also housed in a Dutch building,


The State Education Department is now Muzium Islam Melaka
Photo: 2015



 At the back of the DID building was a concrete staircase that led directly from the top floor to the back door of the library and its ready accessibility allowed me to spend many hours of my lunch break and after office hours in the library. Next to the State Education Department there were also stone steps which provided easy access to the church on the top of St. Paul's Hill.




The steps leading to St. Paul's Hill( 2015)



Late one afternoon, after work, instead of spending my usual time in the library I decided to take a short walk to the museum and view the artefacts that were on display.

Now as I stood in the dimly lit room, I noticed a few peranakan rosewood chairs, tables, and a bridal couch were lined against the wall, their dark colours making them almost invisible in the semi-darkness. Further down the room, a locked glass case displayed an array of antiquated coins and old keris. The natural light that filtered through the windows provided sufficient light for me to read the inscriptions on the mostly worn-out coins.

Sensing the profound silence that enveloped the room, I looked around me and discovered I was the sole visitor in the museum. Leaving the guard who was still comfortably ensconced in his chair to his timeless watch, I crept quietly down the stairs to the museum’s courtyard.



The gate leading to the courtyard ( 2015)



 The small courtyard was enclosed by concrete walls and paved with flagstones which were worn with time. The back wall rested against the lush green slope of St. Paul’s Hill, while fairly large alcoves lined the wall to my right.






The alcoves ( 2015 )









An alcove in the courtyard that used to house a rickshaw


 In the murky recess of an alcove was a solitary rickshaw with its shafts lowered, as if an unseen  rickshaw puller was getting ready for his unknown passenger to embark.



An old rickshaw
Photo Credit: Walter Arufat www.chinatoday.com


As I took in the scene, I could sense the place oozing with the history of its glorious past. I could picture the courtyard echoing with cheery voices and boisterous laughter of Dutch dignitaries and the sharp cadence of their wine glasses as they partied within its homely confines.

When the Dutch withdrew to Batavia and the British occupied Malacca I wondered about its eventual occupants. Was it home to a British family who would perhaps, gather at the open balcony in the late afternoon to talk and reminisce about their homeland, while they sipped tea and gazed  across the hazy expanse of water. Perhaps, it was home to a peranakan family or even a convent for nuns from the mission schools.




The balcony of the old Malacca Museum


The evening light was fast failing and dark, long shadows had begun to creep across the courtyard. Realising, the museum was about to close, I hurriedly stepped into the late evening air and left the past behind me.

The uneventful visit would have slipped from my memory, if not for a story which appeared in the local papers not long after my visit to the museum. The story was about witnesses who reported seeing a ghostly female figure, clad in a nun’s habit, strolling across the museum’s courtyard in the late evening. 

According to another article which appeared in The Straits Times in November 1953  by Sheila Prentice  titled 'The Hantu of No. 7 Fort Road,' the building which housed the museum dates back to the Portuguese era. Next to house No. 7 was a convent where Bastion House used to stand ( now the Malay and Islamic World Museum).  According to Ms Prentice, a Portuguese nun at the convent was involved in an illicit affair with a Portuguese soldier and as punishment was condemned  to death by being bricked-up alive in the outbuildings in the garden behind the house.

Years later, the local papers reported that workers who were doing renovation work at the old museum discovered a skeleton that was interred in one of the walls of the museum. Were the skeletal remains that of the nun who used to walk across the courtyard. 

Perhaps, we will never know.