The way and the kind of food we eat are changing, and some not for the better. The Butterkicap journey began with a conversation about this and how it has an impact on each of us. The friends I have love to eat, we always talk about food. You know how it goes, while digging in to your lunchtime laksa, you’re discussing what you’ll have for dinner – typical Malaysian. One day we traded stories of family traditions and childhood, what it was like growing up and how some things were just not the same and not in a good way.
Until quite recently, I went through a phase where I ate quite a few meals by myself, in front of the TV. I’m not sure how it started or why it became a habit, in spite of living with a family that I love, in a house representing three generations.
Across the aisle at my old office, a lady we all like told me about how her kids don’t go over to their friends’ houses to play, although she didn’t mind them inviting friends back home. It was because she couldn’t be sure what food they would be eating, it was just ‘too risky’.
Online, there are too many comments about people of one faith, discouraging fellow brothers and sisters from attending festive celebrations of those from another faith.
I’m sure at least one if not all three of these scenarios are familiar to you today. None of them is how I would like to describe where I come from and how I grew up. That’s not what I like to talk about when it comes to Malaysia.
When I was at school, back when people still made mix-tapes and having a dial-in modem was cool (those looking for quirky nostalgia, Youtube has videos for the sound of ‘dial up internet’), eating at a buddy’s house was something to look forward to. Not something that put a barrier on the friendship. I remember having a homework assignment with a friend and I went over to her house one evening. We didn’t specifically talk about dinner, but while we opened up our books she said ‘Hey don’t worry about makan, ya? We planned to eat dinner when you break fast, ok?’. It was Ramadan and I am Muslim, my friend Catholic.
In the Malaysia I grew up in, we knew enough about each other’s culture and religion to know how to make simple accommodations for someone we were hosting, and if we were the guest we didn’t feel that we were entitled to more than what they were having for themselves. We shared food with neighbours, receiving and giving just as happily.
I also grew up with traditional goodies for Hari Raya, waking up to smells from my grandmother’s kitchen of food she had prepared. The whole world has a common understanding of how good something is when it’s cooked by grandma, I don’t have to explain how delicious it was, or how everyone would have seconds and thirds. I’m embarrassed to say I only know how to make two of her many mouthwatering signature dishes at present.
From recipes to types of gatherings, precious elements from our way of life are disappearing. Where are the meals that warmed your heart as well as tummy, that made us smile, that bring people together? Where are the people who believe, that especially with food, sharing is caring, who know it makes what we eat taste better?
We’re on a journey to celebrate those meals and makan experiences and we hope you’ll join us.