Sunday, May 13, 2012

THE WORST HABITS FOR YOUR HEART! It is already Monday morning and yesterday the whole world celebrated Mother's Day.Well,after much munching and eating while the celebration lasted,it struck me that my heart was pumping faster,signs of a heart attack perhaps! This morning,I sourced the net and saw a very interesting article to round up my day,to quote: Lifestyle factors you can easily change account for more than 90 percent of heart attack risk, a landmark study of about 30,000 people in 52 countries suggests. And making small, positive changes in your everyday habits can have a surprisingly big impact on your heart health—or even save your life. Here’s a look at six of the worst habits for your heart, and how to turn them around. Being Glued to the Tube Spending too much time parked in front of the TV can actually be fatal, according to a 2011 study published in Journal of the American College of Cardiology. The researchers found that people who devoted four or more hours a day to screen-based entertainment—mainly watching the tube--had double the risk of a major cardiac event resulting in hospitalization, death or both, compared to those who spent less than two hours daily on these activities. Another compelling reason to limit TV time: Those who spent the most time on leisure-time screen-based entertainment had a 48 percent higher risk of dying prematurely, even if they also exercised. Recent research also shows that too much sitting can be just as bad for your heart as smoking. The Warning Signs of Heart Attack A.Having a Negative Attitude While stress and depression have long been linked to higher heart disease risk, a new Harvard review of more than 200 earlier studies, published this month in Psychological Bulletin, highlights the benefits of turning that frown upside-down: An optimistic outlook may cut heart disease and stroke danger by 50 percent. And while you may think that happy people are just healthier, the researchers found that the association between an upbeat attitude and reduced cardiovascular risk held true even when they took the person’s age, weight, smoking status, and other risk factors into account. Research also shows that laughter literally does the heart good, by expanding the linings of blood vessels and boosting blood flow. A fun way to add more joy to your life—and defuse stress--is laughter yoga, an exercise program that combines self-triggered mirth with deep yogic breathing to draw oxygen deeper into the body. Top 10 Simple Ways to Leave Stress Behind B.Ignoring Snoring Frequent loud snoring can trumpet obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a dangerous disorder that magnifies heart attack and stroke risk, if untreated. OSA (bouts of interrupted breathing during sleep) frequently goes undiagnosed because people don’t recognize the symptoms, which include waking at night for no apparent reason and unexplained daytime drowsiness. If you fit this profile, ask your doctor to order a sleep study. Because OSA, which affects 18 million Americans, is most common in people who are heavy, treatment typically involves weight loss and in some cases, continuously positive airway pressure (CPAP), a device that blows moist, heated air in your nose and mouth as you sleep. Can an Oral Device Treat Sleep Apnea? C.Forgoing Fiber Not only does a high-fiber diet boost your heart health, but it could add years to your life, according to a recent study of nearly 400,000 people, conducted by the National Institutes of Health and American Association of Retired People. The researchers found that men ages 50 and older who ate the most fiber were up to 56 percent less likely to die from cardiovascular disease, infectious diseases and respiratory ailments, compare to those who ate the least. For women ages 50 and up, a high-fiber diet lowered risk of death from these causes by nearly 60 percent. Another study involving more than 300,000 men and women found that eating eight servings of fruits and vegetables a day trims the risk of a fatal heart attack by 22 percent, compared to eating less than three. Researchers from the World Cancer Research Fund also report that if we ate more fiber, and less red meat, more than 64,000 cancer deaths would be prevented annually. D.Failing to Floss People with periodontal (gum) disease are nearly twice as likely to have heart disease as those with healthy gums. While the reasons for the link aren’t yet clear, one theory is that the same bacteria that trigger gum disease may also spark inflammation inside the body, damaging arteries. Gum disease affects nearly 50 percent of Americans, many of whom don’t know they have it, because in the early stages, it’s painless. A new study published in Journal of Aging Research adds to mounting evidence that one of the simplest—and cheapest—secrets of long life is taking care of your teeth, with daily brushing and flossing. Conversely, neglecting your chompers—and skipping dental visits—can be lethal, the researchers report. During the 17-year study, those who never flossed were 30 percent more likely to die than were those who flossed daily. E.Smoking Even a Little Smoking even one cigarette a day increases the threat of heart attack by 63 percent and smoking 20 or more cigarettes a day more than quadruples it. Need more motivation to quit? Tobacco use also boosts risk for diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and many types of cancer. A 2010 study reports that using a nicotine patch for six months makes it easier for smokers to kick the habit. Munching on low-calorie foods, such as carrot or celery sticks, or chewing sugarless gum, can also help curb nicotine cravings.unquote by by Lisa Collier Cool.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Assam Laksa-A cool 7th Position Among World's most delicious food!

Congratulations uncle and aunties who have concocted this famous dish from Penang!

According to a CNN International food survey under its CNNGo guide to lifestyle,shopping,hotels and restaurants,Penang's fame Assam Laksa is one of the dishes worth traversing the world for and this popular dish is also the seventh among the world's 50 most delicious food!

CNNGo describes the dish as "poached,flaked mackerel,tamarind,chili,mint,lemongrass,onion, addictive spicy-sour fish broth with noddles."

It added that the Penang Assam Laksa was especially great when fused with ginger " that'll have your nose running before the spoon ever hits your lips".

This is the only Malaysian dish that is listed among the great foods of the world although the country is known as a food heaven!So sad lah!

Penang's Assam Laksa ,however, outdid other world famous food like Shepherd's pie from Britain,French croissant,pho from Vietnam and Iranian Kebab.

Singapore got two placings namely its Chili Crab and the Chicken rice.

Auntie Yen Yen,you are not working hard enough on this exotic dish promotion as these two also are available freely in street corners in Malaysia!Too bad!!!

Friday, July 15, 2011

HI Mom and Dad!

I think you both should have more green tea. At any one time we've always got at least 2 types of green tea in our house. Today in the house, we've got 3 types, because we drink at least 2 cups of tea a day : Genmaicha (Japanese brown rice green tea), Decaffeinated green tea, and Jasmine Green Tea. I think you should buy at least one to have daily.

Read this article below from Uni of Maryland. It's just a simple review of studies done that have found good effects of green tea on the heart, cholesterol, cancer, flu, joint-pain. It's even cited research at the bottom of the page, to list some of the many credible research that's come up over the years on green tea. But most importantly, in my field anyways, it's a wide-known fact that green tea is good for your brain health. I just thought it might be especially useful for you two because of you have joint/leg pain.

"Green tea may also be useful in inflammatory diseases, such as arthritis. Research indicates that green tea may benefit arthritis by reducing inflammation and slowing cartilage breakdown."
So drink up!
Green tea
Botanical evidence indicates that India and China were among the first countries to cultivate tea. Today, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world, second only to water. Hundreds of millions of people drink tea around the world, and studies suggest that green tea (Camellia sinesis) in particular has many health benefits.

There are three main varieties of tea -- green, black, and oolong. The difference between the teas is in their processing. Green tea is made from unfermented leaves and reportedly contains the highest concentration of powerful antioxidants called polyphenols. Antioxidants are substances that scavenge free radicals -- damaging compounds in the body that alter cells, tamper with DNA (genetic material), and even cause cell death. Free radicals occur naturally in the body, but environmental toxins (including ultraviolet rays from the sun, radiation, cigarette smoke, and air pollution) also give rise to these damaging particles. Many scientists believe that free radicals contribute to the aging process as well as the development of a number of health problems, including cancer and heart disease. Antioxidants such as polyphenols in green tea can neutralize free radicals and may reduce or even help prevent some of the damage they cause.

Green tea has been consumed throughout the ages in India, China, Japan, and Thailand. In traditional Chinese and Indian medicine, practitioners used green tea as a stimulant, diuretic (to promote the excretion of urine), astringent (to control bleeding and help heal wounds), and to improve heart health. Other traditional uses of green tea include treating flatulence (gas), regulating body temperature and blood sugar, promoting digestion, and improving mental processes.

Green tea has been extensively studied in people, animals, and laboratory experiments. Results from these studies suggest that green tea may be useful for the following health conditions:

Population-based clinical studies indicate that the antioxidant properties of green tea may help prevent atherosclerosis, particularly coronary artery disease. (Population-based studies means studies that follow large groups of people over time or studies that are comparing groups of people living in different cultures or with different dietary habits.) Researchers aren't sure why green tea reduces the risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Studies show that black tea has similar beneficial effects. In fact, researchers estimate that the rate of heart attack decreases by 11% with consumption of 3 cups of tea per day. In May 2006, however, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rejected a petition from teamakers to allow tea labels to claim that green tea reduces the risk of heart disease. The FDA concluded that there is no credible evidence to support qualified health claims for green tea or green tea extract reducing the risk of heart disease.
High cholesterol

Research shows that green tea lowers total cholesterol and raises HDL ("good") cholesterol in both animals and people. One population-based clinical study found that men who drink green tea are more likely to have lower total cholesterol than those who do not drink green tea. Results from one animal study suggest that polyphenols in green tea may block the intestinal absorption of cholesterol and promote its excretion from the body. In another small study of male smokers, researchers found that green tea significantly reduced blood levels of harmful LDL cholesterol.

Several population-based clinical studies have shown that both green and black teas help protect against cancer. For example, cancer rates tend to be low in countries such as Japan where people regularly consume green tea. However, it is not possible to determine from these population-based studies whether green tea actually prevents cancer in people. Emerging clinical studies suggest that the polyphenols in tea, especially green tea, may play an important role in the prevention of cancer. Researchers also believe that polyphenols help kill cancerous cells and stop their progression.
Bladder cancer. Only a few clinical studies have examined the relationship between bladder cancer and tea consumption. In one study that compared people with and without bladder cancer, researchers found that women who drank black tea and powdered green tea were less likely to develop bladder cancer. A follow-up clinical study by the same group of researchers revealed that bladder cancer patients (particularly men) who drank green tea had a substantially better 5-year survival rate than those who did not.
Breast cancer. Clinical studies in animals and test tubes suggest that polyphenols in green tea inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells. In one study of 472 women with various stages of breast cancer, researchers found that women who consumed the most green tea experienced the least spread of cancer (particularly premenopausal women in the early stages of breast cancer). They also found that women with early stages of the disease who drank at least 5 cups of tea every day before being diagnosed with cancer were less likely to suffer recurrences of the disease after completion of treatment. However, women with late stages of breast cancer experienced little or no improvement from drinking green tea. In terms of breast cancer prevention, the studies are inconclusive. In one very large study, researchers found that drinking tea, green or any other type, was not associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer. However, when the researchers broke down the sample by age, among women under the age of 50, those who consumed 3 or more cups of tea per day were 37% less likely to develop breast cancer compared to women who didn't drink tea.
Ovarian cancer. In a clinical study conducted on ovarian cancer patients in China, researchers found that women who drank at least one cup of green tea per day survived longer with the disease than those who didn' t drink green tea. In fact, those who drank the most tea, lived the longest. Other studies found no beneficial effects.
Colorectal cancer. Clinical studies on the effects of green tea on colon or rectal cancer have produced conflicting results. Some clinical studies show decreased risk in those who drink the tea, while others show increased risk. In one study, women who drank 5 or more cups of green tea per day had a significantly lower risk of colorectal cancer compared to non-tea-drinkers. There was no effect in men, however. Other studies show that regular tea consumption may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer in women. Further research is needed before researchers can recommend green tea for the prevention of colorectal cancer.
Esophageal cancer. Studies in laboratory animals have found that green tea polyphenols inhibit the growth of esophageal cancer cells. However, clinical studies in people have produced conflicting findings. For example, one large-scale population-based clinical study found that green tea offered significant protection against the development of esophageal cancer (particularly among women). Another population-based clinical study revealed just the opposite -- green tea consumption was associated with an increased risk of esophageal cancer. In fact, the stronger and hotter the tea, the greater the risk. Given these conflicting results, further research is needed before scientists can recommend green tea for the prevention of esophageal cancer.
Lung cancer. While green tea polyphenols have been shown to inhibit the growth of human lung cancer cells in test tubes, few clinicial studies have investigated the link between green tea consumption and lung cancer in people and even these studies have been conflicting. One population-based clinical study found that Okinawan tea (similar to green tea but partially fermented) was associated with decreased lung cancer risk, particularly among women. A second clinical study revealed that green tea and black tea significantly increased the risk of lung cancer. As with colon and esophageal cancers, further clinical studies are needed before researchers can draw any conclusions about green tea and lung cancer.
Pancreatic cancer. In one large-scale clinical study researchers compared green tea drinkers with non-drinkers and found that those who drank the most tea were significantly less likely to develop pancreatic cancer. This was particularly true for women -- those who drank the most green tea were half as likely to develop pancreatic cancer as those who drank less tea. Men who drank the most tea were 37% less likely to develop pancreatic cancer. However, it is not clear from this population-based study whether green tea is solely responsible for reducing pancreatic cancer risk. Further studies in animals and people are needed before researchers can recommend green tea for the prevention of pancreatic cancer.
Prostate cancer. Laboratory studies have found that green tea extracts prevent the growth of prostate cancer cells in test tubes. In a large clinical study conducted in Southeast China researchers found that the risk of prostate cancer declined with increasing frequency, duration and quantity of green tea consumption. However, both green and black tea extracts also stimulated genes that cause cells to be less sensitive to chemotherapy drugs. Given this potential interaction, people should not drink black and green tea (as well as extracts of these teas) while receiving chemotherapy.
Skin cancer. The main polyphenol in green tea is epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Scientific studies suggest that EGCG and green tea polyphenols have anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties that may help prevent the onset and growth of skin tumors.
Stomach cancer. Laboratory studies have found that green tea polyphenols inhibit the growth of stomach cancer cells in test tubes, but clinical studies in people have been less conclusive. In two studies that compared green tea drinkers with non-drinkers, researchers found that people who drank tea were about half as likely to develop stomach cancer and gastritis (inflammation of the stomach) as those who did not drink green tea. However, a clinicial study including more than 26,000 men and women in Japan found no association between green tea consumption and stomach cancer risk. Some clinicial studies even suggest that green tea may increase the risk of stomach cancer.
Further clinicial studies are underway to determine whether green tea helps reduce the risk of stomach cancer. Although green tea is considered safe for people at risk for stomach cancer, it is too soon to tell whether green tea reduces the likelihood of developing this disease.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
Green tea may help reduce inflammation associated with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, the two types of IBD. If green tea proves to be helpful for preventing colon cancer, this would be an added benefit for those with IBD because they are at risk for colon cancer.
Green tea has been used traditionally to control blood sugar in the body. Animal studies suggest that green tea may help prevent the development of type 1 diabetes and slow the progression once it has developed. People with type 1 diabetes produce little or no insulin, a hormone that converts glucose (sugar), starches, and other foods into energy needed for daily life. Green tea may help regulate glucose in the body.
A few small clinical studies have found that daily supplementation of the diet with green tea extract powder lowered the hemoglobin A1c level in individuals with borderline diabetes.
Liver disease
Population-based clinical studies have shown that men who drink more than 10 cups of green tea per day are less likely to develop disorders of the liver. Green tea also seems to protect the liver from the damaging effects of toxic substances such as alcohol. Animal studies have shown that green tea helps protect against the development of liver tumors in mice.
Results from several animal and human studies suggest that one of the polyphenols present in green tea, known as catechin, may help treat viral hepatitis (inflammation of the liver from a virus). In these studies, catechin was isolated from green tea and used in very high concentrations. It is not clear whether green tea (which contains a lower concentration of catechins) confers these same benefits to people with hepatitis.
Weight loss
Clinical studies suggest that green tea extract may boost metabolism and help burn fat. One study confirmed that the combination of green tea and caffeine improved weight loss and maintenance in overweight and moderately obese individuals. Some researchers speculate that substances in green tea known as polyphenols, specifically the catechins, are responsible for the herb's fat-burning effect.

Other uses
Drinking green tea has been found effective in a small clinical study for dental caries, or tooth decay. More studies need to be performed. Green tea may also be useful in inflammatory diseases, such as arthritis. Research indicates that green tea may benefit arthritis by reducing inflammation and slowing cartilage breakdown. Chemicals found in green tea may also be effective in treating genital warts and preventing symptoms of colds and influenza. Studies also show that drinking green tea is associated with reduced risk of all cause mortality.
Plant Description:
Green, black, and oolong tea are all derived from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. Originally cultivated in East Asia, this plant grows as large as a shrub or tree. Today, Camellia sinensis grows throughout Asia and parts of the Middle East and Africa.
People in Asian countries more commonly consume green and oolong tea while black tea is most popular in the United States. Green tea is prepared from unfermented leaves, the leaves of oolong tea are partially fermented, and black tea is fully fermented. The more the leaves are fermented, the lower the polyphenol content (See: "What's It Made Of?") and the higher the caffeine content. Green tea has the highest polyphenol content while black tea has roughly 2 - 3 times the caffeine content of green tea.
What's It Made Of?:
The healthful properties of green tea are largely attributed to polyphenols, chemicals with potent antioxidant properties. In fact, the antioxidant effects of polyphenols appear to be greater than vitamin C. The polyphenols in green tea also give it a somewhat bitter flavor.
Polyphenols contained in teas are classified as catechins. Green tea contains six primary catechin compounds: catechin, gallaogatechin, epicatechin, epigallocatechin, epicatechin gallate, and apigallocatechin gallate (also known as EGCG). EGCG is the most studied polyphenol component in green tea and the most active.
Green tea also contains alkaloids including caffeine, theobromine, and theophylline. These alkaloids provide green tea's stimulant effects. L-theanine, an amino acid compound found in green tea, has been studied for its calming effects on the nervous system.
Available Forms:
Most green tea dietary supplements are sold as dried leaf tea in capsule form. Standardized extracts of green tea are preferred. There are also liquid extracts made from the leaves and leaf buds. The average cup of green tea contains between 50 - 150 mg polyphenols (antioxidants). Decaffeinated green tea products contain concentrated polyphenols. Caffeine-free supplements are available.
How to Take It:
There are no known scientific reports on the pediatric use of green tea, so it is not recommended for children.
Depending on the brand, 2 - 3 cups of green tea per day (for a total of 240 - 320 mg polyphenols) or 100 - 750 mg per day of standardized green tea extract is recommended. Caffeine-free products are available and recommended.
The use of herbs is a time-honored approach to strengthening the body and treating disease. However, herbs contain active substances that can trigger side effects and interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these reasons, people should take herbs with care, under the supervision of a practitioner knowledgeable in the field of botanical medicine.
People with heart problems, kidney disorders, stomach ulcers, and psychological disorders (particularly anxiety) should not take green tea. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should also avoid green tea.
People who drink excessive amounts of caffeine (including caffeine from green tea) for prolonged periods of time may experience irritability, insomnia, heart palpitations, and dizziness. Caffeine overdose can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, and loss of appetite. If you are drinking a lot of tea and start to vomit or have abdominal spasms, you may have caffeine poisoning. If your symptoms are severe, lower your caffeine intake and see your health care provider.
Possible Interactions:
If you are being treated with any of the following medications, you should not drink green tea or take green tea extract without first talking to your health care provider:
Adenosine -- Green tea may inhibit the actions of adenosine, a medication given in the hospital for an irregular (and usually unstable) heart rhythm.
Antibiotics, Beta-lactam -- Green tea may increase the effectiveness of beta-lactam antibiotics by reducing bacterial resistance to treatment.
Benzodiazepines -- Caffeine (including caffeine from green tea) has been shown to reduce the sedative effects of benzodiazepines (medications commonly used to treat anxiety, such as diazepam and lorazepam).
Beta-blockers, Propranolol, and Metoprolol -- Caffeine (including caffeine from green tea) may increase blood pressure in people taking propranolol and metoprolol (medications used to treat high blood pressure and heart disease).
Blood Thinning Medications (Including Aspirin) -- People who take warfarin, a blood thinning medication, should not drink green tea. Since green tea contains vitamin K, it can make warfarin ineffective. Meanwhile, you should not mix green tea and aspirin because they both prevent platelets from clotting. Using the two together may increase your risk of bleeding.
Chemotherapy -- The combination of green tea and chemotherapy medications, specifically doxorubicin and tamoxifen, increased the effectiveness of these medications in laboratory tests. However, these results have not yet been demonstrated in studies on people. On the other hand, there have been reports of both green and black tea extracts stimulating a gene in prostate cancer cells that may cause them to be less sensitive to chemotherapy drugs. Given this potential interaction, people should not drink black and green tea (as well as extracts of these teas) while receiving chemotherapy for prostate cancer in particular.
Clozapine -- The antipsychotic effects of the medication clozapine may be reduced if taken fewer than 40 minutes after drinking green tea.
Ephedrine -- When taken together with ephedrine, green tea may cause agitation, tremors, insomnia, and weight loss.
Lithium -- Green tea has been shown to reduce blood levels of lithium (a medication used to treat manic/depression).
Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs) -- Green tea may cause a severe increase in blood pressure (called a "hypertensive crisis") when taken together with MAOIs, which are used to treat depression. Examples of MAOIs include phenelzine and tranylcypromine.
Oral Contraceptives -- Oral contraceptives can prolong the amount of time caffeine stays in the body and may increase its stimulating effects.
Phenylpropanolamine -- A combination of caffeine (including caffeine from green tea) and phenylpropanolamine (an ingredient used in many over-the-counter and prescription cough and cold medications and weight loss products) can cause mania and a severe increase in blood pressure. The FDA issued a public health advisory in November 2000 to warn people of the risk of bleeding in the brain from use of this medication and has strongly urged all manufacturers of this drug to remove it from the market.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Watercress: The Miracle Food

Watercress is called 'Sai Yeong Choy' in Cantonese

UK Scientists say watercress is the new super food, able to prevent certain types of cancer.

According to a study published this week in The British Journal of Nutrition, the consumption of a three ounce portion of watercress reduced the presence of a key tumor growth factor six and eight hours after eating the watercress in healthy patients who had previously been treated for breast cancer. The study was conducted by the Cancer Research Center at the School of Medicine, Southampton General Hospital in the United Kingdom.

The study concluded watercress is as therapeutic as traditional drug treatments with tamoxifen and herceptin, commonly used chemotherapy drugs. The study also said that through regular consumption, watercress "has the potential to confer valuable protection against cancer in general."

"Watercress has the ability to turn off HIF1, a signal sent out by cells calling for blood supply," said noted aging scientist Dr. Nicholas Perricone. When HIF1 becomes incorrectly regulated, otherwise harmless precancerous clusters of cells have the opportunity to grow to form invasive tumors. "Scientists have been looking for anti-angiogenesis agents for years because if we can turn off the blood supply, we can kill the cancer," said Perricone.

"And it looks like watercress can do that." Another study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in February of 2007 showed that, in addition to reducing DNA damage, a daily dose of watercress increased the ability of cells to further resist DNA damage that may be caused by free radicals. In the study, 60 men and women, half of whom were smokers, consumed their usual diet plus 85 grams of raw watercress daily for eight weeks. Blood samples were analyzed for plasma antioxidant status and DNA damage in lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell. Watercress consumption significantly reduced lymphocyte DNA damage.

In the time of the Romans, Greeks and Persians watercress was used as a natural medicine, prescribed for migraines, anemia, eczema, kidney and liver disorder and tuberculosis.

It is never to late to consume this miracle food which is sold cheaply in the markets!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tim Sum in Cintra Street.

I used to eat at this Tai Tong Tim Sum Shop quite often.My family as well as my guests from Japan give top mark for the food in this locality though this Tim Sum shop faces stiff competition from those operating nearby in the Cintra Street and Cambell Street junction.

Their trade mark is that their workers are mostly elderly and they always service you with a smile in spite of the full house especially in the morning.So I tend to agree with Tiberius when he reviews this food he goes as quoted;

Eat till you drop at Tai Tong

Walk along Cintra Street and there are a number of eating joints to satisfy your palate.

The cargo ships and other vessels are anchored in Penang harbour. Other luxury yachts and an occasional luxury liner can be seen at the Weld Quay area, particularly at Marina harbour.

In other parts of George Town, especially in Cintra Street, local residents and outstation visitors are scurrying around for their favourite eating joints.

I have one in mind but I wasn’t sure there were any empty tables left. It was 8.30pm, after all.

Penang people are always punctual when it is time to eat. By the time, I came a-calling, the Tai Tong Restaurant in Cintra Street was full to overflowing.

But my gang wasn’t so easily intimidated. We have been “trained in the rough streets” of KL. We walked right in as if we own the place and cast our steely glances around. No empty tables, at least for the first 10 minutes.

There were at least two or three tables which looked as if the diners were about to vacate the premises. We bade our time and landed on our target like a bunch of hungry eagles the moment they stood up.

Life’s like that. Very often, you have to fight for your food. Tai Tong Restaurant has been operating for a number of years. Its specialty is dim sum, even though it also offer noodles and rice.

We were not in the mood for rice. Our specific food targets were dim sum and “sang har meen”. The elderly waitress who came to take our orders knew precisely what we wanted. In a busy place like Tai Tong, it’s best to let the establishment know what you want. That way, you won’t waste everybody’s time.

However, we had to wait for the dim sum trolly because impatient diners were stopping the waitress along her route and helping themselves to the dim sum they had in mind.

I leaned over to the other guests and told them that at this rate, there won’t be anything left by the time the dim sum trolly reached our table. Thank goodness, the “sang har meen” arrived first, so we have been spared from starvation.

The sang har meen was good but not as great as some others I have tasted in other places.

We also ordered a yam basket. It arrived minutes after the noodles came. The yam basket of culinary goodness was a sure sign that we have been blessed in Penang.

Optimum flavor

The yam had the right crispiness. The bits of veg, mushroom and other items were well cooked and had the optimum flavor mixed with Chinese sauces.

Finally, the dim sum trolly called at our table but not before two women diners walked over hastily with a fierce determination to grab whatever they could. After selecting about six dim sum items, we spotted a plate of freshly fried radish cakes.

Radish cake is one of my top dim sum priorities. When it is fried expertly with bits of tiny dried shrimps and the proper application of oil, the dish is but a short step away from heaven.

I hereby declare that Tai Tong’s radish cake is one of the best I have ever tasted, and that includes Hong Kong dim sum restaurants.

The pot of hot Ti Kuan Yin Chinese tea came in very handy. To neutralize some of the oil residues from the assorted plates of dim sum, Chinese tea is the best antidote.

By the time we had cleaned the plates of yam basket and sang har noodles, we were quite ready to “surrender” but the younger ones among us soldiered on bravely with the leftovers on the dim sum plates.

But the best was yet to come. When we were presented with the bill, we almost almost couldn’t hide our glee. For all that we have ordered and eaten, the grand total, including that pot of Chinese tea was RM53. Surely, that was more than fair.

Thank god for Penang. What will we ever do with their sense of fair play. What a fine bunch of restaurateurs. We will be back for more. I swear it on my next bowl of hokkien mee!

Tai Tong Restaurant is located at 45, Cintra Street, Penang (tel: 04-2636-625).

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Mooncake folklore!

I came across an interesting article with a lengthy comment by Stanley Koh.Since mooncake festival will drawn on us very soon,let's see what he has to say, to quote;

The traditional Chinese mindset is perfectly tuned to folklore and legend. It therefore comes as no surprise that the Chinese, wherever they live in the world, celebrate scores of religious and cultural festivals throughout the year to commemorate events that go back thousands of years.

The lore of the Mooncake Festival—involving the beautiful Chang Er, who stole the elixir of life, and the archer Hon Yi, who shot nine suns—has been tirelessly repeated for generations.

How many of us in this age of advanced science and technology believe that such events actually took place in the ancient past?

Unless we are lunatics, we cannot believe the sad and bizarre tale of Chang Er being banished to the moon with her pet rabbit as being more than symbolic or an innocent piece of entertainment for the sentimental imagination.

But here is a more believable version: the Han people once used moon cakes to carry secret messages in a rebellion against the Mongols.

Well, that does not sound so lunatic. Choosing the 15th day of the 8th lunar month, when the moon is at its full roundness and brightness, to launch a rebellion with secret messages hidden inside moon-shaped cakes does make some sense.

This gist of the story of the overthrow of the Mongols has been repeated year after year throughout the world for generations, or at least since moon cakes became a commercial commodity. However, many of these infomercials ignore the real significance of the celebrative event as a commemoration of the heroism of the Buddhist monk Zhu Yuan Zhang, who toppled the Mongolian Yuan dynasty in 1368.

How many of us, when exchanging gifts of moon cakes, actually mention Zhu’s name or even vaguely remember his heroism?

The commercialization of this festive event has turned us away from the moral significance of the event towards more mundane concerns about prices and the taste of the cakes that are offered for sale.

Today, a piece of moon cake may cost anything between RM12 and RM15, or anything above RM50 for a box.

The actual price, of course, depends on the ingredients inside the cake. And it gets more expensive every year. In years to come, will the price go over the moon?

But the pricing is not my main grouse. I have not eaten a moon cake for years.

Food for thought

One of the main concerns is that today’s approach to rituals and customs is akin to emphasizing the eggshell over the yolk. The outer forms of rituals and celebrations are maintained, but the essential meaning is often lost in the passage of time.

To the traditional Chinese, timeless wisdom, goodness and beauty are more important in legends than the real facts.

However, folklore and legend have also indirectly influenced modern-day food culture. For instance, the traditional moon cake baked in the 14th century would be unrecognizable to us today. Hundreds of regional variants have been created across China.

But let’s not forget the uniquely Malaysian varieties, such as the mashed durian paste moon cake. Whoever invented this should be given a free trip to the moon in recognition of his lunatic contribution to moon cake baking.

So there you have it. Any festival celebration without any emphasis on food indulgence is unimaginable.

In fact, there is a ruthless joke about the obsession of the Chinese with food. “The Chinese will eat anything under heaven as long as its back is facing the sky,” says a familiar jibe, suggesting that even hunchbacked people must be wary of being an endangered species.

Many would probably agree there is a ring of truth to the teasing. After all, the types of Chinese crusine available worldwide is unimaginably variegated.

The wide variety of food for worshipping can differ from simple vegetarian food to expensive gourmet delicacies as the Chinese seldom miss a chance to harvest every opportunity to hold a grand feast for family and friends after the rituals are done with.

So what does it matter whether a festival is celebrated to mark a successful rebellion against a tyrant emperor or a heavenly deity’s birthday?unquote.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

When You're down to nothing,God is up to something!

Another food for thought.On a lazy Sunday,I chanced to come across an interesting article about Jimmy,my namesake!Just to share here:

This is beautiful!

She jumped up as soon as she saw the surgeon come out of the operating room. She said: 'How is my little boy? Is he going to be all right? When can I see him?'

The surgeon said, 'I'm sorry. We did all we could, but your boy didn't make it.'

Sally said, 'Why do little children get cancer? Doesn't God care any more? Where were you, God, when my son needed you?'

The surgeon asked, 'Would you like some time alone with your son? One of the nurses will be out in a few minutes, before he's transported to the university..'

Sally asked the nurse to stay with her while she said good bye to son. She ran her fingers lovingly through his thick red curly hair. 'Would you like a lock of his hair?' the nurse asked.. Sally nodded yes. The nurse cut a lock of the boy's hair, put it in a plastic bag and handed it to Sally.

The mother said, 'It was Jimmy's idea to donate his body to the University for Study. He said it might help somebody else. 'I said no at first, but Jimmy said, ' Mum , I won't be using it after I die. Maybe it will help some other little boy spend one more day with his Mum .' She went on, 'My Jimmy had a heart of gold. Always thinking of someone else. Always wanting to help others if he could.'

Sally walked out of Children's Mercy Hospital for the last time, after spending most of the last six months there.. She put the bag with Jimmy's belongings on the seat beside her in the car..

The drive home was difficult. It was even harder to enter the empty house. She carried Jimmy's belongings, and the plastic bag with the lock of his hair to her son's room.

She started placing the model cars and other personal things back in his room exactly where he had always kept them. She lay down across his bed and, hugging his pillow, cried herself to sleep.

It was around midnight when Sally awoke. Lying beside her on the bed was a folded letter. The letter said :

'Dear Mum ,

I know you're going to miss me; but don't think that I will ever forget you, or stop loving you, just 'cause I'm not around to say 'I Love You' . I will always love you, Mum , even more with each day. Someday we will see each other again. Until then, if you want to adopt a little boy so you won't be so lonely, that's okay with me. He can have my room and old stuff to play with. But, if you decide to get a girl instead, she probably wouldn't like the same things us boys do. You'll have to buy her dolls and stuff girls like, you know.

Don't be sad thinking about me. This really is a neat place. Grandma and Grandpa met me as soon as I got here and showed me around some, but it will take a long time to see everything. The angels are so cool. I love to watch them fly. And, you know what? Jesus doesn't look like any of his pictures. Yet, when I saw Him, I knew it was Him. Jesus himself took me to see GOD! And guess what, Mum ? I got to sit on God's knee and talk to Him, like I was somebody important. That's when I told Him that I wanted to write you a letter, to tell you good bye and everything. But I already knew that wasn't allowed. Well, you know what Mum ? God handed me some paper and His own personal pen to write you this letter I think Gabriel is the name of the angel who is going to drop this letter off to you. God said for me to give you the answer to one of the questions you asked Him 'where was He when I needed him?' 'God said He was in the same place with me, as when His son Jesus was on the cross. He was right there, as He always is with all His children.

Oh, by the way, Mum , no one else can see what I've written except you. To everyone else this is just a blank piece of paper. Isn't that cool? I have to give God His pen back now He needs it to write some more names in the Book of Life. Tonight I get to sit at the table with Jesus for supper. I'm sure the food will be great.

Oh, I almost forgot to tell you. I don't hurt anymore the cancer is all gone.. I'm glad because I couldn't stand that pain anymore and God couldn't stand to see me hurt so much, either. That's when He sent The Angel of Mercy to come get me. The Angel said I was a Special Delivery! How about that?

Signed with Love from God, Jesus & Me.