Another belated post.
For those who don’t know, just days prior to his birthday on 15 July, our beloved Sultan, amongst other things, called for the postponement of all celebrations that would involve huge congregations of people to minimize the spread of the Swine Flu.
Nightly stage performances at the padang in all four districts have now been put on hold, together with the dreams of little-town performers who’ve been practicing and waiting for months for their break to global stardom. I suppose they can wait a couple more months.
In Tutong, the plan was to have the foodstalls in the under-utilised multi-million dollar Tutong Pasarneka Complex (the Tutong tamu). I’m sure I’ve mentioned the place before, if not, that’s another post coming. More specifically the the “gerai jualan” have been located below the huge canvas structure that looks like a well-formed meringue. In principle this plan is excellent, making use of a beautiful complex that’s been used twice a week only hitherto, and providing excellent protection from the elements day or night. But the traffic and parking would be a nightmare!
Anyway, a couple of us went there tadi patang to hunt for “padang” staples.
This Sotong Tutok stall is manned literally by the men of one big happy family. The dried squid is grilled over hot coal and then beaten to a pulp, and then poured over with spicy chili sauce (a family secret). The body part of the sotong costs you $1, while the more popular janggut (tentacles) $2. [Maurina, this was the one I was telling you about]
Another staple during perayaan is the Kacang Kuda (steamed/boiled chick peas). As with the Talur Kuda in my earlier post, I’ve never quite understood the association of the humble chick peas with horses. (But why are they called “chick” peas??) But perhaps because ignorance is bliss, or simply because I just couldn’t care less, I buy them anyway.
The perfect Kacang Kuda needs to be soft and should melt in your mouth, with a perfect balance of sweet and salty.
Due to the aforementioned postponement of “acara padang”, there’s a noticeable lacklustre feeling in the “gerai jualan”. What would normally be a collection of over a hundred foodstalls have dwindled this year to 15-20 only. And I’ve been told that crowds aren’t exactly thronging to the stalls during the “festivities” either. I sensed the vendors were only too pleased to see us five this evening – if with an equal amount of fear we might just
walk past them, which we did. I could almost hear groans of disappointment as we did.
It seems to me that not even opening the permanent foodstalls till late (they normally close around 5pm), although a welcome move, could pull in the crowds.
Needless to say, I wasn’t too impressed. In fact, kesian the high-spirited vendors coz I really don’t think they can make money at all. The venue’s great, but the atmosphere and the crowd are missing, unfortunately. At least the complex is getting used more often now.