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    LOVE TO EAT WHAT YOU HATE (and vice versa)

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  1. I'm 96% fine again. And now back to our regularly scheduled programming. Had our last breakfast at 2 different places on the same street. Big steamed bun and buttermilk bun All the steamed buns filled with pork are the same. Braised pork, 1/4 boiled egg and 1 shiitake. On the way to where we had to catch a van to the next destination... Not a Vietnamese restaurant but they have "Phở" and coffee. If you must vandalise, at least make it funny. (It's a character from a horror film) We made it to Kota Belud, a small town half way to far north of Borneo. The presence of Chinese-Malays is drastically less than in the capital. We asked the (Malay) driver to drop us off at a Malay restaurant for lunch. It was full of Malays and employees were also Malays, but the food looked Chinese. It's a local restaurant and the food freshly cooked. Chicken is king. We had no iron-rich food since we got to Sabah (I'm anaemic). Tofu Stir-fried lettuce After lunch we checked out the market. Noticed straight away dried fish/seafood stalls were more numerous than in the capital, and vendors were mostly non Chinese-Malays. Betel leaves. There are stalls that sell only betel stuff. Some elderly people chew it. Some dried fish come with sambal I enjoyed eating this vegetable many times in Taiwan and am delighted to see it again at markets in Sabah. Ginger flowers Glutinous rice yeast balls hung on nylon strings It's not fish sauce. I asked. It's local honey. The fish section is small. The first thing I noticed was the fishmongers. Nearly all were women here whereas it's usually men elsewhere. Did not linger long, the smell was strong. There are so many swallow nests inside that the solution is to hang big plastic sheet above the stalls. After done checking out every row I went back to my favourite stall: It's huge. Lots of water. I drank and drank. Took a while to finish drinking all the water. I said I wanted to eat the flesh but had no spoon, "I'll make you a spoon". The "spoon" (a sharp piece of green otter shell) actually worked. But when a coconut has a lot of water there is very little meat. This one had no meat. You can see the inside of the coconut, the thicker the meat (endosperm) the whiter the interior. There's nothing here. Apparently we were the town's latest attraction. Many people stared at us everywhere. Some grown people and children said "hello hello". When I bought something or asked about something and if they could speak any English at all they had questions for me. This small rural town doesn't see a lot of tourists. They only come for the big regional weekly Sunday market by the coach load (package tours) and go right back to the capital after browsing the market. Sunset in rural Kota Belud seen from one of my room's windows.
  2. Thanks, KenT. I have a couple of hours tomorrow before leaving town. Will try to find Zyrtec at a pharmacy if things don't improve fast enough. The worst is probably over but it took a lot out of me. 6 hours have passed and I'm still in bed with pain. Thankfully I can breathe almost normally now. Had to forgo dinner tonight. Throat constriction, hoarseness, painful. I've been reading about jackfruit allergy. I have a huge chance of it happening to me. Jeez.
  3. Had to go back to the central market to buy a few things and when I was done thought I'd take a quick walk through the fruit section one more time. The partner spotted the "jackfruit" (cempedak) hidden behind a pile of pineapples. The daughter of the stallholder spoke English just fine and helped me with slicing, explaining, giving info about fruits in Sabah and their seasons etc. I ate some of the fruit on the spot and we chatted for a long time. The "jackfruit" itself had little smell on the outside, but once cut open you could begin to smell it. It's a very sweet smell. It became stronger as I ate. I guess chewing the flesh help release more aroma. Very, very sweet. With an unmistakable fermented taste but then again, sweet. The flesh is soft, almost like durian. Not "pungent" and the smell is not comparable to durian, which is intensely aromatic. I would say the smell is quite strong but not on the same level of durian! Absolutely not. However, after eating a few lumps (the insides are just like jackfruit but less of those stringy trips) my throat and eyes started to feel itchy. My throat hurt more and more with every passing second. The pain quickly spread down my chest. Some difficulty with breathing made me stop eating at once. I put the rest in a bag and took it with me. We went to eat lunch and then I decided to find out if the allergic reaction would return. It did and even more intense. I gave the bag to an employee at the lunch place. She said she liked this fruit. Well, now I'm back in my room waiting for the symptoms to subside. I have multiple (potentially serious) allergies and looks like my days of adventurous fruit eating are coming to an end soon. Last year in Mexico it was another fruit that made my mouth bleed and now this. Can't risk it any more. It's a nice fruit, but unfortunately, I won't be able to eat it again. :(
  4. I love eating the infamous durian. Smells incredible to me. In Thailand, back in 2000, I stored the leftovers in a plastic package and then in a plastic bag and put it in the mini fridge in my hotel room. Was blown away when I opened the fridge the following morning. Imagine the visual effect in a movie when something explodes and a person is blown away due to the impact. Back then there was no sign stating certain fruits being banned. Mangosteen leave stains that are impossible to clean. Then there's a problem with ant infestation. The "jackfruit" one is actually Cempedak (Artocarpus integer), in the jackfruit family. Looks very similar but a lot smaller than jackfruit, and the shape is longer rather than rounder. Apparently it has no English name so they use the term "jackfruit". The smell is very pungent, comparable to durian. I found it yesterday by sheer luck. Going back later today to eat it on the spot and find out for myself.
  5. The fish market is behind the central market. Being next to the water makes it easier to unload fish from returning fishing boats. Small speed boats are like water taxis. People who live on nearby islands or stilt/water villages use them. My new favourite seaweed. Comes in big "clusters" looking exactly like green coral. Now that I've been to markets in every place on the trip so far and they all have both this and the caviar seaweed. Beautiful seaweed. It's quite heavy for its size. Has a large capacity for storing (sea) water. When I was done making this photo I removed one big cluster from the basket and asked the young fishmonger how much to pay. He could speak very little English and I zero Malay... He was able to tell me the entire basket would cost me 5 ringgits ($1.06). I couldn't possibly eat all of it. I pressed a 1 ringgit ($0,21) note into his hand (I really wanted to eat a little bit of this seaweed raw later). He staunchly refused and pressed the money back into my hand. He said it was OK, and that I have come from so far away. He let me keep a small amount of this beautiful seaweed. This is just one of the many of my encounters with friendly and kind locals on this trip. At the end of the day when I was looking at the photos again I thought maybe I should have bought the whole basket and gave the rest to the market eatery where I enjoyed my small lunch of seaweed and mango salad. Tiny caviar seaweed seems always sold in portions on a plate. Flatfish are so big and fat. I never see them so big at home. A huge fish head for the curry. Fish head curry is very popular. Smaller ones for smaller portions of fish head curry There are at least 3 different species of shark in this photo. I see a small hammerhead. A few stalls had sharks. Not sure if catches and species of anything are strictly controlled here. If you are the easily squimish or Green Peace type of person then stay far away from fish/meat markets in some developing countries. Many types of crustacean, especially lobsters. First time seeing these scallops. Brown and smooth shells with no ridges. On the way out I tried to make one last photo thinking the 3 men would not notice. When I looked at the photo much later and guess what, they all saw what I did. They even posed for me. Some market/street vendors actually asked me to take their photos. Who am I to say no to that?! ----------- A few last photos taken in the capital. My hotel is about 50m/yd on the same street. Bought water from this shop every day. Check out the name and fruit. All the hotels never miss a chance to remind you specific fruits and foods that are verboten. Signs are clearly visible from the moment you approach the check-in counter, wait for the lift and enter it, and in your room as well. "American breakfast" in Sabah usually looks like this: Crispy fish skin snacks. My favourite is still salted egg (everything). Sabah used to known as British North Borneo and Jesselton was its capital. After WW2 it was reduced to rubble. This small clock tower was the only structure that remained. KenT, yes the biggest market in town. Food stalls are located on the level above where I ate the best salads of mango and seaweed at this simple eatery. I have been eating mango salad whenever I see it but it's not exactly the same. Every vendor has their own recipes.
  6. Finally, internet speed is "decent" enough again (but very slow again in the evening when everyone is back in their hotel rooms). Have moved on to a few more places after leaving the capital where internet was painfully slow so I did not bother doing much online. And then I went to some place in the middle of the jungle without internet but that's behind me now, just today. Keep in mind that Sabah is still largely primitive. Even immediately outside the main touristy centre it's just like any developing country, really. As soon as you enter the expressway towards the countryside you see the real/authentic Sabah. So, wanna know if you like a person long-term? Just let them use slow internet! (Before internet it used to be "travel".) The capital's central market is pretty lively. There are many (interesting) things I've never seen before. They are normal ingredients in Malay/Sabahan cuisine. Sour green mangoes for various salads. Almost bought the big reddish mangoes but after checking out other stalls and talking with some vendors I learn those were imported from Thailand. I went back to buying small yellow mangoes from people's gardens here in Sabah. They even modify pineapples now. The crown won't grow so big. Besides bananas, which are always "in season", it seems watermelons and papayas are peaking. Sabah-grown avocados. Forgot to ask which variety. I have bought one (seen here in the photo is mine) and eaten it on the spot to test. Too bad it was watery and very mild. Must be the low fat variety, whatever it's called. When it comes to avocados I like "butter from the forest". Still eating it regularly because I need the good fat. Candlenuts Tofu stalls also sell tempeh Beautiful rolls of banana leaves. Sabah is a coffe producer. These days Tenom is the biggest growing area. That's where I hope to visit someday but for the agricultural park. Lots of chillies, also some dried ones. Huge cinnamon bark, probably 1 metre/40" long each. Tiny calamansi Pretty sure it's galangal. At home I get just a small piece for the same price, meanwhile here you get a whole kilo. Big jicama. I like eating young/small ones with chilli salt. We can thank Mexico for this refreshing root. Huge root vegetable Not a big tomato-eating island. So far I've seen these 2 types. This stall had the nicest looking tomatoes. They are usually bruised and not so good looking. A vegetable Pandan Probably a herb Beautiful fresh turmeric leaves (without the root). The herb on far left looks like parsley but tastes like celery. I'm thankful green onions (ruin everything they touch) are not prevalent here. Unlike in some countries where it's the zenith of the cuisine.
  7. Food we ate today. Pineapple bun Various steamed buns Pork noodle soup Beef tendon soup https://images2.imgbox.com/93/91/fevaRrOC_o.jpg After seeing seaweed at the central (fish) market I wanted to eat it for lunch. Same "caviar" seaweed on Okinawan islands but here it's much smaller, tiny even. It was at a Malay/Muslim food eatery at the central market. I was asked 3 times if I wanted rice with these. It's unimaginable to eat a meal without rice. Another type of seaweed, looking a lot like coral. In its original state the seaweed is bright green, once acidity and other bits have been added it loses its green colour. I tasted calamansi lime juice, chillies and bits of tiny dried fish. Some shreds of green mango as well. Very nice. Green mango salad with salt, chillies and tiny dried fish bits. I love green mango salads. The dried fish make it even more delicious. At a Hainanese chicken rice specialist later. They also have duck and roast pork Sambal belacan kangkung is always always on the menu, other vegetables are often finished first so you still have to order kangkung. We wanted to order salted egg bitter gourd but again, only deep-fried. They wouldn't do stir-fry version. However, another dish with fish it's possible to have it stir-fried. Most eateries have this kind of wooden stools. Not very comfortable to sit on. The advantage is they take up less space under the tables when not in use. Always nice to drink coconut water and coffee any time. It's a beer hell and beer is not easy to find, let alone on tap. Industrial swill on tap will do. ============= PS: KenT, I've done my research prior to the trip but I have asked a few Sabahans for you just to make sure. The monsoon is at its worst in Nov and Dec, still raining in Jan. Maybe you had better go snorkelling/diving in Thailand or another region where there's no monsoon in Dec/Jan.
  8. "Durian Street" during the day. Just a car park. And again during golden hour One of the most popular street snacks: banana fritters (not for me, though.) Cut fruits in portions Some of the fruits are only found in Borneo, such as this one. @Kent: it appears durian vendors here sell exclusively durians. And fruit vendors sell only other fruits. These 2 types of mangoes are a common sight at the moment Where I bought jackfruit from. It's being prepared. Now the durians... Never buy durians without price I noticed there were less durians than the day before. Looks like they didn't replenish the shelf/stand. I was prepared to pay a high price for "Udang Merah" ("red prawn" variety) but the vendor didn't show up tonight! I was a bit "devastated". I had wanted to Black Thorn alongside Udang Merah, but had to settle for just the Black Thorn. Udang Merah is grown almost exclusively in Penang so looks like I have to go there next summer! Locals come out when it gets dark. Too late for us by then Some vendors arrived late and only starting to set up their stuff now
  9. After lunch at Mari-Mari Cultural Village we didn't have much room for dinner. I found a new snack that became an instant favourite. Coconut (water) pudding. Salted egg bitter gourd. It came as a surprise, being deep-fried. Crispy like chips, crisps even. Sambal belacan aubergines Coffee at another place earlier It had rained hard all morning and till afternoon. Fortunately it decided to stop after 4pm or so and we immediately went straight to "durian street" in the neighbourhood of the central market. The durian vendors from the countryside arrive in late afternoon and start setting up their stalls on this street. There are also other vendors selling fruits, snacks, and meal components (for takeaway). Preparing jackfruit Small jackfruit, much smaller than one in photo above. Might be something Indian. I should try it next time I see it. The metal moulds are non stick. The finished product, folded in half and placed in a rack above the moulds. A nice-smelling fruit Fish heads If something is not drenched in chillies you probably eat it with a sambal (chilli paste/sauce). Seaweed salad There's a takoyaki stall Every blue tent is a durian stall Bow before the King! King of fruit in Malaysia that is! Musang King is the most popular (some say overrated) cultivar of durian in Malaysia and Thailand. The letter D plus numbers is the registration code for each variety. The prices are what Malays call daylight robbery. Mostly tourists who are willing to pay the price this early in the season. They crack it open for you and you sit down at a picnic table behind the stall to enjoy your durian. Plastic gloves are provided. I'm desperate and having only a limited time here so I paid the high price, extortionately expensive Musang King shipped from Kuala Lumpur. The season has just started in peninsular Malaysia, but not here in Sabah, which is in high summer. Unfortunately I didn't get to eat this fruit. The durian vendor told me I got ripped off good and the fruit was bad. He advised me to ask for my money back. I did, even though not all the amount but almost.
  10. We have moved on to another place 2 hours north. Internet is slow here in rural Sabah. My jet lag is slowly getting less. Visiting Mari-Mari Cultural Village is the most popular excursion. Every tourist has done it and enjoyed it. At the "cultural village" you learn about different tribal groups and their way of life. Everyone was welcoming and friendly, not the least bit pretentious. Malaysian Borneo has many tribes, and some of them are open to tourism, hence the existence of this "cultural village". The tribes live in peace and harmony. Malaysia's ethnic and religious harmony reaches its zenith here in Borneo, not only amongst other tribes but also "newer comers" ie non tribal people. Malaysian Airlines touted that in one of their (old) slogans. It's been suggested that peninsular Malaysia needs to look at Borneo and learn something. I say the whole world only has to look at Borneo and learn something! A coconut with holes for the batter What it looks like under a long house There are not only cooking demonstrations but also how they make various types of alcohol. This one tasted like Schnapp. A Rungus beauty. The roots of a betel tree So many wild jackfruit trees everywhere After a long dance performance the tour ended with a lunch buffet (included in the tour price). We tried a few. No meal without at least 1 type of sambal The women are very pretty.
  11. Of course! One of the reasons we are here (after deciding to skip Mexico this year)! Will be doing a few river cruises to see Bornean wildlife (who owns us absolutely nothing). Afraid of frequent heavy rainfall and mosquitoes (who find me particularly tasty with my multiple allergies).
  12. We first visited peninsular Malaysia in 2001. We were not in any hurry to return but we knew when we did it would be Malaysian Borneo. And now we are back! I have been checking the weather forecast every day prior to departure. "Thundery showers" and "severe weather warnings" every day. Yesterday morning we had better weather than "severe weather warnings" in the forecast. Hello Sabah! Temperatures hover round mid 30C/90F with very high humidity. Yikes! We are immediately reminded why we would rather not visit countries farther south or closer to the equator, or just too hot and humid in general. The most modern city in Sabah, the capital. Lots of places to eat on my street alone. Couldn't check in until early afternoon so we had coffee at a busy kedai kopi in the neighbourhood of the hotel. Nice black coffee (Malaysian Borneo has its own coffee production). The ice cubes here are safe. A proper restaurant buys ice from a supplier. The partner won't consume anything with ice in it, though. Iced drinks cost a fraction more, btw. Next time we'll have 3 each. A busy kedai kopi (coffeehouse) with own pastries and steamed buns, as well as typical local noodle soups and rice dishes. The prices of food in the capital are amazing. Even cheaper in smaller towns. First meal was at this well-regarded organic restaurant in the suburb (only a short taxi ride away). We chose the best time to come and had the place to ourselves for the first half hour. The restaurant has its own farms from where their vegetables, huge prawns, chickens, fish etc come from. Always young/green coconut whenever possible. It's one of my absolute favourite thing to drink (and eat the opaque flesh) when in a tropical country. Soft tofu with shiitake and egg whites. I don't like the slimy cornflour sauce in any food. But besides the slime we liked the tofu (which the restaurant makes their own). Sambal kangkung with prawns (easier for the partner to eat peeled prawns). For myself... huge prawns with salted yolk sauce. Shells in sambal belacan (= beh-lah-chan). It's all about the sauce for me. There is very little meat and hard to pull it out of the shell using a toothpick. The meat is too deep inside the shell. But in the end I did manage to eat them all. We are no Hainan chicken experts. It still tasted good to us. It was a big meal for us. Took 2 hours to eat. Friendly, interested and kind staff. The restaurant (and its good reputation) is very, very well-deserved. There are a few more things om their menu we want to try before we leave the capital. Malaysia on the world map. Borneo is a huge island (world's 3rd largest) and distances are vast. Position of Sabah in Malaysian Borneo. In my 2001 Malaysia travel guide the writer recommended to skip the rest of south eastern Sabah. Some Western governments still advise their citizens to avoid travelling to this part of the world. The guide book on left I bought in 2001 for the first trip to Malaysia (and Singapore). The style of writing for the Borneo section is irritating (the writer's personality comes through). I have also read the new Borneo guide by another publisher (on right in this photo), whose style is quite different. But it's good to get ideas and opinions from different sources. Took us long enough but we are happy to be here, finally (after deciding to skip Mexico this year)!
  13. Almost. 15 hours ago... Waiting for my connecting flight now. It's 30C/86F at dawn here and the airport AC is only minimal. Can barely feel any AC at all if I don't move anything besides my fingers. The next flight is only 2.5 hours. About $11 each
  14. BonVivant

    Lunch 2024

    A small "hot pot" meal. A few things that needed using up. ------------#2------------------------- Roasted aubergine and Turkish peppers. Kurdish tandir flatbread and the rest Intensely aromatic Greek mint ------------------#3------------------- Minty meatballs. There's already loads of mint in the mince. Quinoa with lovage from the garden, and parsley. The mint "branches" are getting bare. Finishing very soon at the rate I've been using. Good that I got 2 bags of it. At first I wasn't sure how to store it after opening. Then it occurred to me that it's much faster and easier to rub the whole thing in the bag and tip the leaves onto a newspaper. Remove all the small "twigs" that fall out together with the mint, now it's ready to use it in my food. @MaryIsobelThank you!
  15. Everything has an end, only the sausage has 2. I bought 2 mint and 1 oregano (or is it thymes) from the herb shop. Both smell aMAzing, but I really like the mint. Sweet smelling and quite minty. I observed the food tour people who only bought standard things in this lovely herb shop. None of them had heard of these intense aromatic herbs that are normal in Greece? I looked at these seeds in a shop on my way to the metro heading for the airport. Not a gardener but I enjoy checking out seeds on my travels. I also buy them but to give away. Roscano is the name of the succulent salty vegetable I saw at the market. Apparently similar to samphire. I think they meant Red Stem. Are cherry nero nice? Not a gardener/grower but I used to buy seeds to give to other people. Only for the strong(-stomached) It was only a week earlier when I landed late at night now I'm back here. There was no sign in English on the platform indicating destinations. I had to approach someone asking if it was the right platform. Turned out she was an Greek expat in Geneva visiting family in Athens. We ended up talking only about food and travel until we got off the train much later. That was my first very nice encounter with Greeks on this trip. During my visit I kept meeting helpful and pleasant Greeks. I'm sure there are unhelpful and unpleasant Greeks but I must be lucky to be meeting/having encounters with nice people so far. My affection for this country grows with every visit and every encounter. Watch this space for more of this next year. Beautiful Greece! One of the top tourist destinations in the world! When I wear my Greece shirts abroad people always smile at me! And lastly... (Already booked my return 🤩)
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