Every year when December rolls around, I get on a plane and fly to Malaysia with my parents for a couple of weeks. They insist. This trip has sort of become an annual pilgrimage to my parents’ homeland, an occasion where we spend time with one another and rush around making the most of the time we have here visiting relatives, shopping and eating.
Shot of the skies and clouds stretching over Melbourne, taken on a plane ride back from Malaysia earlier this year. Photo: Mabel Kwong
I always feel agitated a few weeks before each trip because going overseas during this time of the year means missing out on a number of things in Melbourne for me: New Year festivities with my friends, turning down that hard-to-come-by office summer job I was offered, quietly reading the book I want to finish and so on.
This year, for a number of reasons work and health related, I won’t be making the yearly trip back to Malaysia. And you know what? I feel sad.
A while ago, I chanced upon Banana Lounge’s trip-down-memory-lane post on Asian childhood foods. Reading it literally made me drool as all Asian food items mentioned here resonate well with me – I ate all of them when I was a kid.
Asian grocery stores in Melbourne never fail to stock heaps of childhood favourite junk food. Photo: Mabel Kwong
I was born in Australia and when I was seven, my dad moved the family to Asia. Most of my primary and secondary school days in the late 1990s and 2000s were spent in Singapore and Malaysia. Two Asian food-mad cities where people nibble on something roughly once every two hours of the day.
A couple of weeks ago, I decided to check out the Malaysia Street Festival at Queen Victoria Market. I was expecting this event to showcase only Malaysian street food, but lo and behold, I discovered non-Malaysian food was on offer as well.
I ambled up to the festival just after 1p.m. on an exquisite blue sky Sunday, and it was packed. People stood shoulder to shoulder akin to sardines in a tin can at the Market’s carpark area where food stalls were set up in a neat row. Some people stood in enormously long queues for food, while others simply crowded around stalls gawking at the colourful, mouth-watering dishes on display.
The Malaysian flag flying high at the Malaysia Street Festival.
I also spied with my little myopic eyes a Malaysian flag stuck high and mighty on top of one of the stalls, flying majestically in the slight breeze. A small yet significant mark of Malaysian pride in a city that is home to many Malaysian immigrants and international students.