Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Where is great-grandma?

Sometimes there are things I don't know how to explain to Aelig.

We were in Malaysia, and my mother informed me one day that she was going to be busy as it was my grandmother's death anniversary (做忌). As a Chinese custom, my mother has to hold a memorial service for the ancestors from my father's side. 

The day came, she woke up super early to prepare foods for praying. My grandmother was represented in a wood frame (神祖牌位) with her name written on. I told Aelig that we were going to pray for my grandmother, who is her great-grandma. She asked me where is great-grandma? I showed her the wood frame, she was very confused. 

I helped my father laying out a praying table and presented foods my mother just cooked. My father then lid some incense and passed them to me. I was a bit confused as he didn't give any to Aelig. Was it because she is not considered a descendant from his family? Anyway, I explained to Aelig that I was inviting my grand-parents for lunch. Apparently during the death anniversary the death spouse is invited too. Aelig looked around, it seemed that she was trying to spot my grandparents, but in vain.

 After a while, my father threw two half-moon shape woods (擲筊) to communicate with my grandparents. If one wood is facing up and one facing down, it means that they are well eaten. It was the case at first try, the ceremony is considered conclude and the family can start eating. 

"Where is great-grandma?" After I told her that great-grandma has eaten and has gone, she posted the question with her curious eyes. I don't know how to explain that it was in a form of spirit and normally we won't be able to see them. Anyway, after some discussions with my family, we all think that this is just a tradition that we continue. It is served as a day we remember a family member. After all, our tradition believes in incarnation, my grandparents should have already reborn since long time ago, there is no way they could turn up for lunch lol.

One of the praying foods : fried glass noodles.

The main dish was popiah, a popular dish among the Hokkien. It was mainly made of jicama, a kind of vegetables that I have never seen in any Asian stores in France.

Side ingredients that go with the popiah.

The concept is similar to Fajitas (Mexican dish), but it has less meat and less oily.

I hope grandma enjoyed the lunch. I did!


  1. Hi Bee Ean

    You can find jicama in tang frere mainstore now but they are very small compare to what we have in Malaysia. And very expensive too. The price is between 8€ to 10€ per kg.

    Yong ling

  2. Hi yongling,

    I don't live in Paris, there is no Tang Frère in my city.

    A friend who lives in Paris bought it once, and she said it was very hard and didn't taste the same.

    Have you tried cooking it in France? How did it taste?


    Bee Ean

  3. Hi Bee Ean

    I forgot that you lived in Nantes.

    Yes, I bought it once to cook. It taste the same to me as those that I found in Malaysia. I didn't find it hard but maybe my mum cooked it differently from your friend.

    Yong Ling