Sunday, January 12, 2003

Annie's Chicken Riceball Theory

My good friend Anne Charmaine is at it again with her ideas about Malaysian history. Remember her theory of the "Bad Foot Durian Fruit?" Well, this one isn't quite as exciting, but still a good example of Annie's inventive mind.

Anne took a short vacation last November, away from the big city of Kuala Lumpur to spend a couple days in Malacca, the region where her parents had lived the first few years of their married life. While there, she relaxed and reflected on childhood memories of traveling around town in a trishaw....

During her stay, Annie discovered several Chicken Rice Ball shops and became fascinated at the popularity of these road side restaurants, observing throngs of people flocking to these restaurants to eat a meal of Chicken Rice Balls, which are simply rice, cooked in chicken broth, salt and oil, shaped into little balls by hand and served with a choice of roasted or steamed chicken. Simple enough. So she had to stop and try some.

Annie finally settled on "RESTORAN FAMOSA" off Jonker Street and once seated, her mind began to work on a theory explaining the popularity of these small, simple little rice balls....

"A lady, brought her children to dine at a chicken rice shop, and she had difficulty trying to feed one of the children. The chicken rice man tried to help her out by fashioning the rice into balls, like lollipops to coax the child into eating his meal. At a table nearby, a customer thought the balls were cute, and asked the chicken rice man if he could make the balls for her too. Soon, every table asked for the balls that by the end of the day, the chicken rice man found his business for the day had doubled. He decided to make Chicken Rice Balls a daily affair. Upon seeing the Rice Ball man’s business thrive, others followed suit, hoping their business would hit the roof too."

Sounds like a palatable theory to me (no pun intended). Well, as it turns out, the Chicken Rice Ball story is not quite as exciting as Anne Charmaine's theory, which I actually preferred.

Annie explains that the truth to the Chicken Rice Ball theory goes like this:

In the olden days, rice was a messy affair to pack for men working in the farms. If it was filled with gravy, it was even worse, because there was no water to clean their hands with. The women would therefore, cook the rice a little longer till it is sticky, shaped the rice into balls and wrap the balls in paper for their farmers. The farmers need only use the tip of their fingers to scoop the rice balls into their mouths.

Not very exciting, but interesting all the same. Maybe Annie will do some more research into the actual truth of the Bad Foot Durian Fruit so I can post her thesis on this blog.

Thank Annie for yet another exciting story from the jungles of Malaysia!



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