Cooking in a Kelantan Fishing Village, Malaya
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Cooking in a Kelantan Fishing Village, Malaya book
When Raymond and I settled in a small village on the east coast of Kelantan in Malaya in 1939, to study the fishing economy, one of the things which seemed most to impress the local people was that we took all our meals, with the exception of a breakfast of toast and coffee, in Malay style. We had a house built for us of bamboo and palm thatch, facing the sea and adjacent to other village houses. It had a typical village-style kitchen at one corner of the house, with a sanded and raised platform for a wood fire, over which cooking-pots of iron rested on metal grids - while the smoke found its way out of a hole at the side of the roof. One prepared all the food, and ground the spices, squatting on the floor before a wooden board. The washing-up was done in a tin or enamel bowl filled with water drawn from an adjacent well, and stored in large cool pottery jars, filled daily. The house was built on stilts, with the floorboards laid loosely together, so that water and waste matter could fall under the house, where it was absorbed in the sand, or was disposed of by local chickens scratching for a precarious living. A separate place with its own water jar was reserved for personal washing, for the Malay villager has always been scrupulously clean in his personal affairs, as becomes a good Muslim. We had engaged a local Malay and his wife to look after us. Her cooking was varied and delectable; rice was cheap and easy to buy, and fresh fish was available from the beach every afternoon when the boats came in. Except of course on Fridays, the Sabbath, when nobody put to sea, and we killed a chicken or a duck, or used their eggs instead.