Sunday, June 22, 2008

A little on minyak and tahi minyak.

Some of us may still recall rumah Che/Aki in Kampung Baru Tok Kaya Kanan, Kemasek. [I just love to say that ‘Tok Kaya Kanan/Kiri thing] On the back lambor, was a dapur kayu with two tungku. Che’s very own kitchen. Here was her domain that she treasures despite having in the later years a dapur minyak and even a rice cooker. Underneath the sand-filled stove was her store of kayu api. Firewood she collected from the broken branches of trees, tempurung (coconut shells) and sabut (coconut husk) around the house, I recall too of her in her late years, hunched but still going round collecting the kindling. Her canisters for her own baulu and kuih bangkit were from the discarded tin milo and dumex that the cucus consumed aplenty. She was living the life of a true environmentalist long before we were talking recycling.

She too makes her own tikar mengkuang from the mengkuang plants at her backyard. She would brave the swamp to cut the leaves, soak them, strip them, dye them and daily bit by bit on the front lambor, made them into mats. I remember when I first rented my house in Setapak, before I can afford a mattress, the tikar was a treasured possession.

What I remember most in the kitchen however was the periok of her coconut oil.

She would without fail when coconuts were plenty, cook her own coconut oil. The oil then was used for cooking, hair oil and minyak urut too.

The cooking of the coconut oil was always awaited. Any thing ‘makan-able’ was awaited. After the oil was filtered, the waste was the tahi minyak. It can be made into a sambal tahi minyak mixed with fried shredded coconut (that is the origin of the phrase tahi minyak gaul nyior) eaten with nasi kapit or plain rice or eaten just like that.

First on tahi minyak.

Tahi means shit. Minyak means oil. Tahi minyak is however not oily shit but leftover from the making of coconut oil.

But tahi minyak can mean something else. To say to a person that he is a tahi minyak, like in 'mung ni tahi minyak sungguh' is like saying you are shit but you can’t be discarded because you could still be useful.

Now on minyak.

Who is not angry at the recent oil price increase?

I know two. Check Utusan Malaysia the day after the bomb dropped. Utusan ran a full color page of crowds protesting; vehicles queuing at petrol stations, people with empty jerry cans looking for some last minute cheap oil. No one was smiling. But at the top right hand corner of the same page was the picture of two men looking cheerful captured to prosperity. I wish they were not ‘that’ happy but they were happily smiling so they must be.

They were obviously the tahi minyak. If you know what I mean.

1 comment:

Fadzilah Adibah Abdul Majid said...

a very precise narration. It really bring back the memory of Che's kitchen...