Food and Family
Because we travel constantly and life is one continuous string of new experiences, it would be easy for visitors to our site to dismiss our stay here in Penang as yet another stop on the traveler’s trail. It is not.
Penang is a vastly more personal experience for us because we are meeting our Malaysian family, the family of my stepfather Ken, for the first time. For years, we have heard stories about Ken’s mom, Jimmy, Ken, Mei Ling, David and Stephen and their respective families. Getting to know the people behind these names is unquestionably a highlight of our travels so far. They have greeted us with open arms and more food than anyone could ever possibly eat in a lifetime. Oh my god, people, you’ve never seen so much food!!!
We ate and ate and talked, and then we had a snack before we went to dinner. After dessert, we stopped to try a local specialty. The next day, we ate and ate some more. I have literally never eaten so much food in my life – and I have loved every bite. In Chinese culture, food is a warm welcome. And nobody has ever greeted us so warmly before… ever.
Johann, a family friend, treats us to a lunch feast at Look Yuen Restaurant
Every single member of the family went out of their way to stuff our stomachs. David must have shuttled us 1000 km back and forth from street hawker specialties, to a small town boasting the perfect Assam Laksa, to the best dim sum in Butterworth, to a seafood extravaganza along the coast. Mei Ling, who I strongly suspect is psychic, would come running out with delicious treats every time I even thought about food. (Martha Stewart watch out. If Mei Ling ever gets a TV show in the States, your days are numbered.)
Pigging out on dim sum in Butterworth
Every brother treated us to a special meal to celebrate our visit and the New Year. Every sister-in-law prepared something spectacular to stuff our bellies. Ying Ying went out of her way to make sure we sampled each dish. Matthew filled us in on the associated traditions. So much food, so much generosity.
Kim organizes a huge gathering (three tables) of the extended
family. Sister Poh Poh has me cracking up all night!
Even Ken’s cousin Kim, who happened to be visiting from London during our stay, took the time to organize a huge dinner in Georgetown to celebrate the New Year with the extended family. What a crazy, hilarious, and entertaining group of characters. I just cannot get over how amazing Ken’s family is and how warm they have all been. To prove that we are not exaggerating, here is more photographic evidence of some great family and some serious eating.
Jimmy’s family (clockwise): Ying Ying, Matthew,
Yan Yan, Lai Yin, Yim and Jimmy
Laughing and performing the traditional
New Year’s salad tossing for prosperity
Ken’s family (clockwise): Eddy and girlfriend Yee Ling, Ah Lian, Ken,
Joo Nee with with husband Ah Soon and daughter Chloe Boo
Studying street food with David, Stephen and Sharon in Butterworth
Mei Ling waters the garden while we stuff our faces 🙂
Stuffing our faces in Ken’s family garden
Stephen’s family: Taegan, Stephen, Tristan, and Sharon
Ken and Freda with Johann and wife Gaik Peng
Eying snacks between meals
Ken (Fatt) and his mom rest their stomachs in
the garden while pausing between meals
New Year’s vegetarian breakfast in the family kitchen