Saturday, January 17, 2009

January 15, 2008 - Penang, Malaysia

Quite possibly the greatest place on earth: the Gurney Drive hawker stalls.
We passed on this stall (somehow we weren't tempted by the cuttlefish or a veggie with the unlikely name convolvulus)

and this one.
We preferred to let someone else do the cooking for us.

After carefully considering the options at the various stalls, we made our selections and settled down for a feast of fried oysters (oysters fried in an eggy batter with chili and other spices and garnished with cilantro and spring onions) curry mee (a fragrant curry soup filled with vermicelli, yellow noodles, bean sprouts, prawns, shelled cockles, squid, cuttlefish, cubes of coagulated pig's blood, and deep fried tofu, garnished with a sprig of mint), and a bowl of warm silky bean curd garnished with a brown sauce. We washed all this good stuff down with homemade soymilk and a glass of honeyed sea cucumber, both served over ice.
The portions were small, so we had room to try a few more things. I couldn't resist the apom, a banana pancake filled with kaya (coconut) jelly. Sten chided my choice as pedestrian, but he had to admit that these were some tasty pancakes.
Sten felt the need to try the rojak (a fruit salad garnished with fried dough and pieces of cuttlefish, chopped peanuts, and a pungent dressing made out of soy sauce, chili, honey and vinegar). The dressing was interesting, but I could do without bits of cuttlefish in my fruit salad.
The food in Penang cheap and wonderful. At another set of hawker stalls near the marina we had the chance to try char kway teow (flat rice noodles, chili, prawns, cockles and bean sprouts, stirfried in lard - not healthy, but so very tasty), nasi lemak (rice cooked in coconut milk, garnished with chili and shrimp, and packaged in a banana leaf), and koay teow (beef soup filled with meat balls and little bite sized bits of stomach and garnished with fried garlic). Sten almost fell off his stool when I chowed down on a piece of tripe. It was a total texture violation, but the stomach lining did soak up all the tasty flavors of the soup.

We've also been enjoying the proximity of the marina to Little India. The best roti canai we've ever had is just three blocks away.

Now, you might be wondering why I appear to be so happy to be holding a colostomy bag . . . Well, because it is actually filled with caffeinated goodness.
Ali makes a mean teh tarik (pulled tea made with condensed milk).

The bag is the local version of the Starbucks takeaway cup. All over Singapore and Penang we've seen people walking along with beverage bags hanging off their wrists. At first the arrangement seemed bizarre, but it is actually very convenient. As I discovered during a provisioning run, the strap attaches nicely to a shopping cart and the door lock on a taxi. The only drawback is that you can't put it down on a flat surface. Which leads me to wonder if the cubicles here all come with hooks to hang one's takeout bag of tea.

No comments: