Adau Gayo

A very belated post on the Dusun day of celebration, Adau Gayo (in Dusun language, literally, Big Day), 1st of May. It’s not a public holiday in Brunei, but that doesn’t stop the party.

My dad is Dusun, so we celebrate Adau Gayo with cousins and our extended family. It’s usually done much in the same way the Malay Muslim Hari Raya Aidilfitri is celebrated, family and friends visit each other, but on a much less “pretentious” or “show-offy” kinda way. And because it’s not a holiday, and more often than not, the celebrations are done by holding ‘Openhouses’.

I’d have written about Adau Gayo much sooner had it not been for my fat stubby fingers that rather clumsily clicked on a button that permanently deleted all my photos. I’d taken a lot of nice pictures of the food at my uncle’s openhouse then; but for this post I’ll have to make do with blurry pics of a later openhouse (which I didn’t attend, but my camera did). Unfortunately, my niece who took the photos got the setting all wrong.

Nonetheless, the Dusun in me will not be deterred from sharing our Big Day with the whole wide world… well, with maybe the two people who read this.

The hungry crowd

The hungry crowd

The buffet table

The buffet table

Bee Hoon

Bee Hoon

Must-have Kelupis

Must-have Kelupis

What's on offer

What's on offer

You’ll notice that there isn’t really too much difference between Hari Raya and Adau Gayo foodwise. But what I really love about the Dusun celebration is that when you hold an ‘Openhouse’, the whole village shows up early and stays till late. That may or may not be a good thing depending on the circumstances, but the family bond and community spirit are undeniably still very strong.

Jagus

Surely you know “Cashew nuts”…

Well, “Jagus” is what we call it here in Brunei, and “Gajus” is what you’ll find in the dictionary.

Gillian, a dear friend of mine, used to stay over at our place by the seaside, several times. During her last stay, she told me she’d never seen the real “cashew nuts”, at which point I told her they weren’t “nuts” but the external seeds of the cashew fruit. It suddenly dawned on me that all the while she’d been there she had absolutely no idea that the big trees around the house were in fact cashew trees. They weren’t bearing fruit then, mind.

So, Gillian luv, here’s a pic of the fruit.

some i found on the ground...

some i found on the ground...

see the huge nuts? ;p

see the huge nuts? ;p

It all boils down to the tree…

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After a bit of “the birds and the bees” affair, pollination occurs.

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A few weeks later, this little “baby jagus” appears…

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A few more weeks later it grows a little bigger and turns a pinkish-orange hue.

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And the fruit just smells very very peachy sweet. However, you’ll be surprised to know that despite its good looks and pleasant smell, the fruit itself isn’t actually very popular.

The Jagus flesh, tore a fallen ripe one

The Jagus flesh, tore a fallen ripe one

The flesh is actually very juicy and sweet, but it leaves a very bitter aftertaste that would make you want to pull out your tongue and chop it off with a spoon. But braver souls march forth and squeeze the juice out of the cashew slices, dip it in hot belacan sauce, and stick it in their mouths, tongues intact.

But here’s one thing I love, apart from the Kacang Jagus or Cashew nuts- the young shoots that you can have as ulam or side salad or a wrap for belacan or cincalu with loads of birdseye chili.

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But for all these things I’ve told you about jagus, I have not the slightest clue how the “Cashew nut” comes into being. Time to Wiki, I suppose.

My Brick Oven @ Hobo

I’m excited ~ much, much more excited than an incontinent geriatric at the sight of a bed pan!!

A project that took weeks of research and more weeks to build finally ended, and quite successfully, I must say.

This is my Hobo or Brick Oven I’m talking about. I first saw one on Jamie Oliver’s show years ago, but have only recently succumbed to the madness of building one. “Mad” coz why on bleeding earth would I build one in not-so-oven-savvy Brunei? Even my dad (allegedly) sighed to the builders, “Apa lagi kan dibuatnya ani..?!” (“What is it this time..?!”)… Oh well, it is on his property… But this might just possibly be the FIRST outdoors Brick Oven of its kind in Brunei!! (I think I just wet my pants there… again).

Back to the oven- it is mainly used for baking pizza, or for slow roasting. It cooks through convection of heat generated by the wood fire burning in the corner of the oven, but primarily through latent heat that’s absorbed by the brick and slowly released in the chamber.

Here’s what it looked like in the beginning.
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The cavernous oven chamber

The cavernous oven chamber

Front view, Chimney!! Let's see Santa slide down this one!

Front view, Chimney!! Let's see Santa slide down this one!

Construction finally ended on Friday. Not known for my patience, I thought Sunday (yesterday) would be OK for the first firing.

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First firing! First Pizza! Woohoo!

First firing! First Pizza! Woohoo!

... as spectators looked on open-mouthed in awe and bewilderment.

... as spectators looked on open-mouthed in awe and bewilderment.

Now, I had initially planned to buy frozen pizza but the local Hua Ho didn’t have any, so I was forced to make my own dough. Honest to goodness, I had never made pizza before (just not my thing- I’d always thought it was too ‘unchallenging’ and ‘lazy’- plop tomato sauce and slices, cheese etc onto bread- easy, right??). Coerced into making the pizza base, I was extremely nervous – I was, to borrow Madonna’s pearl of wisdom, “Like a pizza-virgin… touching dough for the very first time. Oohh baby ~ Like a…” Uhm, Nevermind.

Mad divas and their even madder wailing aside, the first pizza I made was topped with simple tomato, cheese, salami and fresh coriander. 20 minutes and a few singed eyelashes and arm hairs later we got this perfectly baked and browned and smoked pizza. Doubters and naysayers, including one who had Pizza-Hut on speed-dial, were converted. Success!

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I made SEVEN pizzas that night (So I overestimated the dough a little bit, so??), and roasted some chicken wings.

Cooking in progress

Cooking in progress

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Wings covered in bbq sauce and honey

Wings covered in bbq sauce and honey

These two pizzas I particularly loved because of their local twist: Honey Chicken and Garlic (Pizza Hut’s bestseller) and Ikan Masin with fresh Chili and Corriander. The salted fish flakes replaced anchovies perfectly, but was more friendly to the local palate.

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I even nearly cooked this man for dessert, but kanyang tia sudah, maybe next time…

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(Just kidding bah, main-main aja Mas Supormo, I’ll save you for a Main dish for next time). I did say the chamber was huge!

So, two firsts in one go- the oven itself, and the pizzas. Not half-bad at all!

Needless to say, I’m very pleased with the results of the construction and of the pizza-making. But I don’t think I’ll be making any more pizzas from scratch for a very long time now… or even eat one. Burp! Tejeluak! And if my one-week leave from work wasn’t successful in the losing weight department as planned, I’ll take comfort in the fact that other kinds of success were achieved. Ho-hum!

P/S: Selamat Hari Gawai to all Iban friends and readers!! Jangan ngirup and driving k!