Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Food Brings Us Together

It was a pissy (rainy) Friday evening. I was waiting for my friends to arrive for dinner at Brickfields' Kheng Hiong. We had gone there because one of us wanted to eat the Keong Cheng Yu (Ginger Steamed Fish). So whilst waiting for the friends to arrive, I took the opportunity to scan the restaurant. Being a traffic jammed Friday evening, many were expectedly late.

One by one the friends arrive. Kisses and hugs are exchanged and the gossipping begins. Not really interested in some of the banter, I continued to look around the restaurant. The food took longer than usual to arrive but it gave me a chance to observe a little bit more. One table had colleagues (I guessed) - one guy who looked like the taukeh was serving the other guys in the table. He was smiling widely as he dished out ladles of soup into the bowls of the other people at his table. It looked like he was happy to be the one doing the task.

At another adjacent table, a few guys leaned back against their chairs, faces shining with fulfillment as they point their guts towards the sky. On their table were remnants of what they had ordered. Yet another table had a family... with kids busy playing with their Gameboys. The kids, having no attention span, were busy annoying each other and the others on the table.

Moving on, I saw another family arrive. The nucleus pair, the oldest couple, were being helped to the table by their progeny. It is always heartwarming to see acts of filial piety like this and always reminds me to cherish my parents and the love they have given me without hesitation. It also makes me think about how my children would treat me when I grow old.

So to cut the story short, food brings a lot to us. It gives us a sense of 'giving'. It provides us with camaraderie as we sit down for dinners in big groups. This can especially be seen at CNY eve dinners. Parents lovingly picking the chicken thigh with their chopsticks to subsequently put it into the bowl of their children. The young announcing the start of the meal by saying "Ah pa sek, ah ma sek" (Dad, Mom, I'm going to start eating now). There's always some uncle who wants the fish head so that he can dissect it and pick it clean (Chinese mah). It's interesting how effective food is to enhance the love in our lives. Even apologies are made easier... if you drink the tea someone pours you, it would mean that you accept the apology of the person who poured the tea for you.

Anyway, I'll end here for now with thoughts of what to eat for lunch.