Childhood Food

I wanted to post up stuff about my trip with my parents to Hong Kong but honestly I got a little lazy since I had to resize the bunch of photos.
That will have to wait until I am in a less lazy mood. Actually it’s not that I have nothing to say. The problem is, I have plenty of things I want to write about. But the thoughts and ideas fly by like mozzies.
I was a facilitator at a Lean In Forum in early July (and yes, that begs for a post of its own) at Hard Rock Hotel. Don’t ask me why it was at Hard Rock. It just was. Apart from the godawful long drive from my place in Bayan Baru all the way to Batu Feringghi, I just think it would have been a lot less of a hassle if it were held in say, E&O Hotel or Eastin Hotel.
But more of that later.
Today I had an interesting conversation with Nic at dinner. It’s kind of strange saying that as I am my husband’s business partner and if I am not out and about meeting potential clients, I am mostly with him. For breakfast, lunch, tea and dinner.

We talk all the time which is also amazing considering that I’ve been married to him since 2001. That’s a long time to be STILL talking. But I think that’s the beauty of being in business together. Lots of people say they’d rather not start a business with their spouse as things do get nasty and the relationship gets soured up in no time.
We spoke about childhood food. Which originated because we were eating Ayamas nuggets at dinner and Nic remarked that nuggets were my 10 year old nephew’s fave canteen food.
The conversation veered into canteen food of our own school days. Neither of us had chicken nuggets in school. Neither did we drink Coca Cola like water. In fact, we were kind of deprived but I guess it was good deprivation.
With some 50 sen to spend, my drink of choice was air sirap which was 20 sen and the remaining 30 sen went towards some mee goreng or nasi lemak. The food of choice at the canteen was just either kuih, noodles or nasi lemak and having soda or fizzy drinks was so rare!
These days, my nephew gets a couple of ringgit as pocket money for school (helped by the fact that his mum gives him RM1 and his grandpa – a.k.a my dad – slips him another RM3 or so, believing that the boy is always hungry like a bottomless pit).
Chicken nuggets at his canteen cost RM1 for 2 measly, bright orange pieces. Back then, we had real food. These days no wonder the kids are getting fatter – eating fried chicken nuggets and drinking soda and getting back to class and sitting till the bell rings is similar to us all hunched up over our laptops!
The other canteen food I remembered was vanilla cream buns slathered with sambal ikan bilis. Granted, there was not much vanilla cream to begin with and the bun was dry. Yet the crazy combination of sweetish, spicy sambal ikan bilis complemented the miserly swath of cream in the bun and made for a great snack during recess.
And I still get a thrill when I think of the ice cream sans cream I used to eat at school for just 10 sen. The ice popsicles in a plastic tube with an asam boi made for such joy on a hot afternoon, after school.
Or the jeruk mangga or buah cermai sold by the makcik which we bought on our way back from school. The jeruk was just tart enough to make us crinkle our eyes! Even the cheap, sweet like hell chocolate balls wrapped in colourful silver paper tasted like heaven.
Right now I guess my tastebuds are too pampered by Hersheys, Whittakers and what-not. I’m TOO much of a sophisticate now haha. One of the perks of having my dad teach in the same secondary school is that he had a food account with the canteen operator.
Remember those little 555 books of pale yellow, pink and blue where debts were scribbled down only to be settled at the end of the month? Well, on days when I forgot to bring pocket money, I would order my mee goreng or nasi lemak and tell Mr Wong, the canteen operator, to “put it on my dad’s account”. It was pretty cool to have carte blanche like that.
The thing is, both Nic and I grew up in the 80s where canteen food or snacks were ¬†considered quite the luxury. My nephew would probably turn his nose up at such plebeian stuff. He’d probably go “yuck” if I ever pointed a jeruk mangga at him.
Oh hey, I’ve grown up a long, long time ago. When the highlight of my life was sucking on the asam boi after the ice popsicle has been crunched through and through.
So, what are your memories of your school canteen food?

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