Food for thought

It is all about food, es­pe­cially pop­u­lar Pe­nang dishes, at the Won­der­food Mu­seum, writes Olivia Mi­wil

New Straits Times - - Jom! - olivia@nst.com.my

THINK you re­ally know about food in Malaysia? Test your knowl­edge while hav­ing fun at Pe­nang’s Won­der­food Mu­seum, lo­cated in Ge­orge Town.

As the name sug­gests, be ready to be awed or feel hun­gry by the sight of food repli­cas avail­able in the coun­try, par­tic­u­larly those in Pe­nang.

Set in a 1940s dou­ble-storey colo­nial build­ing, the mu­seum is a brain­child of Sean Lao, who uses food repli­ca­tion tech­niques from Ja­pan to show­case hun­dreds of Malaysian favourite food in its three gal­leries known as Info Zone, Wow Zone and Ed­u­ca­tional Zone.

INFO ZONE

The first room has its walls dec­o­rated with a va­ri­ety of dishes from the main com­mu­ni­ties — Chi­nese, Per­anakan, Malay and In­dian.

The walls make a good back­ground pic­tures for pho­tos. A guide helps to take

our pho­tos in such ac­tions as pulling teh

tarik and toss­ing noo­dles in a s kil­let. A corner is ded­i­cated to show­case the repli­cas of Pe­nang must-try food such as

char kuey teow, Pe­nang laksa, curry mee and cen­dol.

There are also minia­tures of dif­fer­ent types of eater­ies on the street to por­tray the scenery of peo­ple ei­ther cook­ing food, buy­ing or hav­ing meals.

One of them is a group of Chi­nese peo­ple hav­ing meals while sit­ting on stools put on the bench. The guide says such eat­ing cus­tom is still be­ing prac­tised at cer­tain places in Ge­orge Town.

Of course, the gallery is not lim­ited to food replica. It also tells how much and what Malaysians like to eat dur­ing break­fast, brunch, lunch, tea break, din­ner and sup­per.

WOWZONE

The Wow Zone is de­signed to make vis­i­tors pon­der on some of life prin­ci­ples.

There are sev­eral ta­bles meant to cre­ate aware­ness on how frag­ile and short life is, shown through the rot­ten food, in­ap­pro­pri­ately coloured food and food on a table that is about to flip over.

It is also very pop­u­lar among vis­i­tors as they want to pose with gi­gan­tic replica of Pe­nang fa­mous del­i­ca­cies.

Lao has cer­tainly put a lot of ef­fort on re­search­ing on Malaysian food as shown in the de­tails of each replica and the num­ber of tra­di­tional del­i­ca­cies fea­tured in the dis­play.

ED­U­CA­TIONAL ZONE

Food avail­able in this zone in­clude bee lar­vae por­ridge from Perak, an Orang Asli dish of corn cooked in bam­boo, lem­peng

pisang (tra­di­tional ba­nana pan­cake), cat­tle brain curry, gluti­nous rice cooked in pitcher’s plant, black sam­bal from Pa­hang, clay-baked fish from Perlis, roe of tiny scale barb fish omelette com­monly eaten by fish­er­men and farm­ers, and squid stuffed with co­conut and chilies.

I also learn the names of dozens of colour­ful tra­di­tional desserts, all served on the wall. Ever won­der how much food an av­er­age adult con­sume sin a year? The zone has the an­swer but I’ll leave that to you to find out.

There is also a room painted in gold, ded­i­cated to show­case the world’s most ex­pen­sive dishes that can reach up to thou­sands of ring­git per meal.

Other in­ter­est­ing fea­tures in­clude a replica of Mona Lisa’s smil­ing por­trait, made us­ing food and spices; and a ban­quet wed­ding table with blood­ied sharks strewn all over the floor, meant to bring aware­ness as well as in sup­port of the no-shark fin-soup cam­paign.

The golden room is where the rich dine.

A lav­ish Chi­nese cel­e­bra­tory meal.

Mona Lisa on the din­ing

table.

A gi­ant roti canai for two or

more?

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