Friday, December 15, 2006

Foreigners like Malaysian Food

MOST Malaysians are very much like the food they eat.

Like the colourful, diverse multi-cultural nationals that they are, their meals are also an amalgam of flavourful blends and spices. At least that’s Lady Lynn Jones Parry’s first impression of Malaysia.

The wife of the British permanent representative ambassador to the United Nations simply loves Malaysian food.

Parry isn’t the only foreign dignitary who has developed a passion for Malaysian food. Wyler, Churkina and Parry are impressed with Malaysia’s cuisine. Irina Yevgenyevna Churkina, the Russia’s permanent representative ambassador’s wife and former television presenter Jessica Kate Bode has, too.

Even food writer Susan Wyler thinks most Malaysians and their cuisines have a lot in common.
The women, wives of US-based diplomats and journalists were in Malaysia for the first time on the invitation of the wife of Malaysian ambassador to US, Datin Amy Hamidun.

They held a get-together at the Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur last week. The foreigners are amazed at how much Malaysians love, in particular, their breakfasts.

To most Malaysians, durian is nothing if not mouth-watering but to some foreigners it is an acquired taste.“They have such fabulous breakfasts,” said Parry.

“There are fried noodles, nasi lemak, roti canai, but back home it’s just cereals,” said the British born who is now a resident of New York.

A culinary professional of 30 years, Wyler thinks Malaysian food is healthy.

“After all, fish and fresh vegetables are used abundantly in Malaysian food,” said the author who is currently working on The Swiss Secret to Optimal Health.

“These make the food nutritious,” she said.

Wyler, from Pennsylvania in USA, said there was little fat used in Malaysian food.
“It’s no wonder then that most Malaysian women are slim,” she said.

Much as they love Malaysian food, the women hate the King of Fruits.

“Durian is awful,” said Bode of Texas.

“It tastes like an onion,” said Wyler.

Roti Canai, a Malaysian favourite is not only sold from sidewalk stalls but reputable hotels as well. – Photo courtesy of Corus Hotel Kuala Lumpur.Parry, however, was less critical of it.
“We had durian cendul recently,” she said. “We are taking baby steps.”

Besides durian, all other Malaysian fruits, like the starfruit and dragon fruit go down well with the foreigners.
Besides sampling our local dishes, Wyler, who has acquired some recipes with the renowned Malaysian television host Chef Wan, also wants to learn to cook them.
Her favourite is stir-fried duck. She thinks Malaysian food owes much of its distinctive flavour to seasoning.
Amy, who lives in New York with her husband, thinks foreigners do not enjoy Malaysian cuisine overseas.

“Malaysian restaurants overseas just aren’t as good as the ones here,” said Amy, who’d lived in China, Japan, Singapore and Indonesia prior to this.
Bode, who fancies Malay kuih agrees.

“Westernised Asian strip much of the authentic flavour in the fusion process,” she said.
In Malaysia for the first time, Parry thinks Malaysia’s multiculturalism is unique.

“Everyone is just so kind, polite and gentle,” she said.

“Malaysians offer great hospitality, and most speak English – that’s definitely a boon for tourism,” she said.

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