Monday, June 1, 2009

Kacang Putih Man and Putu Mayam Man

I was just over on Lily's Wai Sek Hong blog and it brought back memories...... She talked about hawkers that came to her doorsteps - the Kacang Putih man ( literally translated as the White Nut Man) and the Putu Mayam man (the String Hopper man). Indeed, I thought they were my friends too! They came by when I most craved the delicious delights. And yes, my Kacang Putih man and my Putu Mayam man were Indian too.

I remember them most from the days we lived in the rented Semi-Detached house in Lorong Dua in Eng Ang Estate in Klang.
I was 9 or 10 years old then. Kacang Putih man would come by with his green wooden table balanced on top of white turbaned head, his hands holding unto the legs of the table. Ha, ha.... I remember asking him from which school did he get the table from? He would shout "Kacang Putih! kacang putih!" Kids would pour out of houses on both sides of the street and hail him down. He would set his table down, flip over the plastic cover over and tempt us with those delicious nuts. Little did he know that he was way ahead of his time - these days we know the benefits of incorporating nuts into our diet. The top of the table would be partitioned into numerous sections, each filled with a different type of nut or similar nuts but prepared differently. Among the many delights were peanuts- boiled, deep fried or frosted with sugar, Broad or Fava Beans deep fried, toasty little lentils, crispy peas and my favorite steamed gabanzo beans with curry leaves and chillies. He also sold Muruku and different savory mixes that Chex Mix could only dream it could be. Yum! My mouth waters thinking about it.
He would roll up pieces of newspaper making little paper cones, fill them with our nut of choice. " Lebih sedikit, lah" you would often hear, meaning just a little more - we would beg. He would smile and shake his head, side to side and pop in a nut or two more. I do not know about the others, but I think I was his favorite. He would wait until the crowd disperse and turn to me smiling and shaking his head and say, "lebih sedikit" and give me a few more nuts. Sometimes, I would give him a glass of water and he would make me a paper airplane or a paper boat. Sadly, I do not see these wonderful Kacang Putih man traveling through residential neighborhood bringing treats to children.

Picture taken from
These days, if you are lucky you will have in your life a Kacang Putih man like in this picture, who parks his cart at a same spot. I do not know why but more often then not he is in front of a bank! So is the fresh fruit seller and possibly the Nasi Lemak lady. That is a subject for another posting. Check out the blog above and read about the life of the Kacang Putih man in the picture. He lives in Singapore a neighboring country to Malaysia.

In the past 20 years of my yearly visit back to Klang, Malaysia, I saw mainly
in the Pasar Malam (night market) the new breed of Kacang Putih Man, more often than not, a Chinese man, very often wearing a white singlet, highlighting his pot bellied stature, selling his Kacang out of back of his parked van, housed in plastic jars and ladled into plastic bags. It is not quite the same. I hope somewhere in the small kampung-kampung (this is the plural for the benefit and delight of my daughter L) a Kacang Putih man or two continues to delight the young and the old.

My Putu Mayam man........ this posting is already too long as I reminisce about the Kacang Putih man. My Putu Mayam man deserves his own posting. Ha, ha.... when I first started down memory lane because of Lily Ng's blog, I was just setting the stage for the main Man Food man in my life then. It is taking longer to get there because I am having a food sensory memory overload!!! Can you guess which one of these Men I am thinking about. Sisters and my brother or Mom- any guesses??????? What about you, CS in New Zealand ??? Hint- it is not the Putu Mayam Man

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