What A Dead Goose Taught Me

It’s the last day of the year.

And like most people, I tend to get a little reflective as the year ends. It’s a good time to take stock of what I’ve been up to, for the past 12 months.

It’s also time to look forward and be excited about what’s arriving in the next 12 months.

Do you get a little misty-eyed like me too?

Call it my Piscean tendencies but I do love looking back and hugging the memories of the year that had just whittled by.

I always believe that if you’re alive and kicking, you should always contemplate a little and be aware of your actions of the past year. I love doing this because by nicely wrapping up the year, I can be proud of my little achievements and milestones before I head on out to create even bigger, better ones in 2012.

I would feel incomplete and naked if I entered 2012 without doing so. Because as someone said, a life well lived is a life worth journalling about. As you can see, I’m all for shutting chapters properly. (You should see my stack of journals over the years. They’re full of my ups and downs in life. Sometimes I get worried. What if these get into the wrong hands and people make up perceptions of me based on my emotional outpouring?)

As I near my 40s (I still can’t believe I have 2 years before the BIG Four O), I get even more pensive and reflective. Perhaps mortality is getting its foot into my thoughts. Perhaps I need to really get going on the bucket list.

What a dead goose taught me

My “siew ngor peih” (roast goose drumstick) story comes to mind.

Many years ago, Nic and I were in Petaling Street where we decided to buy some “siew ngor” or roast goose. The famous Petaling Street stall doesn’t sell a quarter goose or quarter duck so we had to buy half a goose.

We took this prized half back to our hotel room to savour.

The best in this case was the drumstick portion of the roast goose (after all it was half a goose so it came with its drumstick intact). I grew up with this idea that you always save the best for last.

I told Nic that I must have the best for last so we ate the rest of the roast goose.

Unfortunately it was half a goose – actually it was a LOT of GOOSE so by the time we finished 80% of the fowl, we were both completely full. We couldn’t even bear to look at the fat, juicy drumstick.

Maybe we leave it for tomorrow? I ventured. I was already too full to move, what more eat more goose.

We both decided that was the best plan.

Which turned out to be such a crappy plan because the next morning, I woke up with a slight fever and a sore throat. Which meant, I couldn’t eat the best bit of the goose – its drumstick!

Nic who is strong as a horse didn’t have any sickly symptoms from gorging on goose the day before. He then ate the roast drumstick as his breakfast!

It was pure agony for me (also, being sick made it worse!).

So what exactly did a dead goose teach me?

It taught me that if I really enjoyed/appreciated something, I might as well enjoy and appreciate it at the beginning instead of waiting till the end. The good stuff may be worth waiting for but there’s no cardinal rule saying you HAVE to antagonize yourself with the wait (which can be endless sometimes).

I know most people won’t philosphise over some dead poultry and concoct some rule for living.

But I take life lessons pretty damn seriously so that roast goose drumstick taught me that if I want to live life or do things I wanna do, there’s no better time than right here, right now.

Don’t ever wait for tomorrow for who knows, it may never arrive. (Mortality is no laughing matter these days. I’ve heard of 30-somethings get aneurysm, for god’s sakes.)

I’m not asking you to live with abandon but to live with enthusiasm and take each day as a starting point for the dreams of your life.

Resolutions, promises, commitments – whatever you choose to call it, in the end it is the story of your life. How do you want your life story to be recounted?

Happy New Year to all of you who read this blog. Thank you for reading!

Voltaire quote

Wonderfully sound advice from Voltaire. Taken at MUJI Hong Kong during our trip there in March this year

No Brand But Just As Good

I’m not a big fan of tau sar pneah although Nic is. He loves them to bits and can eat a few at one go, especially if they’re going with brewed coffee.

Soh Peng’s little adventure with finding tau sar pneah the last time she visited was enlightening, especially for me. I was a little intrigued about the best tau sar pneah in town, or at least the best type you could cart home to friends and family.

Anyway, Nic actually liked Chuan Hoe brand of tau sar pneah. This brand was recommended by the lady at a stall in Chowrasta market. He said it was moist and redolent of fried onions. Sometimes the no-brand stuff can be rather lovely.

But he also liked Ah Leong’s freshly baked tau sar pneah too. Ah Leong is a little nickname we gave to this nondescript, hidden gem of a biscuit maker located behind De Tai Tong dim sum restaurant on Cintra Street. Ah Leong is actually Leong Chee Kei – the name of this tiny biscuit shop on the ground floor of the very Hong Kong-style, 1970s People’s Flats.

Leong Chee Kei (not sure if that’s his name or the name of the shop but hey, it does not matter) sells freshly baked traditional style cakes and biscuits. It opens every day from 10am to 6pm (except Sunday because the baker does need a rest).

I was introduced to this pastry shop by Jo, a Singaporean no less, one day after we’d had a filling lunch at De Tai Tong. She said she wanted to show me a superb little shop behind this dim sum place.

Leong Chee Kei is famous for their freshly baked coconut tarts which tend to sell out fast.

Coconut tarts Penang style

Chinese style coconut tarts...best eaten lightly reheated

Their pepper biscuits are also crunchy and famous (come to think of it, which biscuit is not famous in this shop?) and so are their traditional style egg cakes – you know, the soft and spongy cake in the 80s before we all got caught up in crepe de mille or cheesecake or macarons. (You can read more and salivate over this quirky Chinese bakery goodies over at CK Lam’s blog.)

They sell all sorts of traditional biscuits so the best time to come is in the morning, 10-ish or so when the baked goods are just cooling off under their furious fans, ready to be packed and bought by tourists. Yes, tourists have also discovered that the best stuff is just plain un-branded and needs a bit of a curious nose to find. Oh and they do quite a good walnut cookie (“hup tow soh”) too – the size of a large American cookie but tastes very crumbly and rich.

Despite being famous, this shop has retained local prices (at least they seem quite local to me).

This shop sells pretty good tau sar pneah and possibly good enough to rival the big boys. In fact if you ask me, theirs could be lots better ‘coz it’s handmade, made the day or even the day before (it’s not sitting in some shop for yonks) and you’re supporting one of the few local bakeries – possibly the last of its kind because I doubt the owner’s kids will be doing this manual biscuit baking any time soon.

Which reminded me of another food-nostalgia-reflection story of a Ban Chang Kuih seller we spoke to at one of the street corners near Cintra Street. It’s the story of how there is no wrong or right, but of how circumstances change.

And that is another story for another day. Do remind me. ;-)