6.25.2009

The real little Nyonya



(Peranakan-styled homes back in the day)

I've always had an interest in my family background, especially on my mom's side. This interest took a turn for the high when I caught the Ch.8 drama series, " The Little Nyonya ". Being born into a Peranakan family, I've been fortunate enough to experience the culture of the Nyonyas, and the Babas. For those of you who don't know, Peranakans are known as the "Straits born Chinese", whereby the men are called "Baba" and the women "Nyonya". Well it really got me thinking to how life was back then, and how traditions and customs were being passed down from our ancestors. I've always heard stories (along with her boxload of photos) from my mama about life then, but it was such an eye opener to see it on TV. And the food ! Omg don't get me started. Babi ponteh, bua kualak, rempah udang, and all the kuehs. Seriously the list just goes on. And for those of you who have tried my mama's cooking, you would know exactly what I'm talking about. Over the years, I've never bothered to notice how much work went into cooking those dishes.. and honestly, I never cared enough to want to learn either. We have 3 Peranakan women left in our generation, but one is way too young to learn, and Jo and I don't really have the patience to. But as of late, I've been so highly motivated to learn about the culture. I've read books about it, and I've also called my mama up to ask her about the culture. And today, I've spent almost the entire day going through the pile of pictures locked away in my basement. Even though they're just pictures.. they truly do speak a thousand words.



The gorgeous kebabyas, kasut manik (beaded shoes), and the beautiful hand-painted plates and cutlery. Maybe when I have the time, I'll scan them and post them up on this blog. At this point, I really, really would love to visit Malacca. It is after all, the hometown of my great grand-mother, and where the Peranakan culture was born. I definitely would want to visit our old peranakan styled homes, and the boutiques that still carry items from this culture. I guess sometimes we don't notice what we have, unless it's right smack in our faces eh. But I'm so excited for this, cause' it opens another chapter in my life, and brings me closer to my mama. I truly do miss her. I miss how she'd cook all these dishes, how she'd tell me stories about the past.. how she'd show me her collection of kebayas, and say that those shall one day be mine.

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