My 拜年 visit to 小娘惹 (The Little Nyonya)
I went Chinese New Year visiting with my family yesterday and every year we would go to this lady’s house to 拜 年. Ok, here’s some facts about her: 1. She’s Peranakan and was the little girl boss of my great-grandmother who was a ‘ma jie’ in her household 2. She cooks and bakes really well 3. She has fluffy white hair made of cotton candy 4. She is really cute!
The first thing she said when she saw me yesterday was “Where’s the kueh lapis?” Ok, I have to share this little embarrassing story. 2 years ago, when my love for baking started, I asked her for her recipe for kueh lapis. She was so obliging that she actually asked her daughter to write down the recipe and post it to me a few days later! When I received the handwritten recpie, I was so excited that I quickly set to task of making the kueh lapis. Now kueh lapis I have discovered is the most difficult thing to bake in the world. Ever. I have a deep respect for people who are able to make kueh lapis from scratch. In other words, I failed miserably. But to my credit, the taste was there, only thing missing were the different layers in the cake (which kind of defeats the pupose of it being called ‘lapis’ actually)
So last year when I went to visit her, she asked me if I brought any kueh lapis cake that I have baked for her. When I told her my failed attempts, she kept laughing in a cute old lay way, cupping her mouth with her hand and shaking her finger like saying, “Haha, silly little boy! You forgot to…or you didn’t…” She was so endearing when she did that though. =)
Imagine my surprise when this year, the first thing she said when she saw me was (yes you guessed it), “Where’s the kueh lapis?” What a terrific memory! And did I mention that she is 99 years old this year? So she said next year if she celebrates her 100th birthday, she would invite me and she asked if I would come. But before I left, she changed her mind and said she wouldn’t invite me! So I asked her why. And she laughed and said, “Because you didn’t make me any kueh lapis!” =)