The Food Play #whataboutkuching2018

I attended this event held in conjunction with What About Kuching 2018. It is a dining event which combines theatre and storytelling into one. A new type of dining experience altogether!

Unique to Sarawak, this WAK2018 version introduce sarawak laksa to the attendees. The team behind it are made up of Hester Welch and a team of talented Malaysian performers. Welch is an international theatre director based. In London.

As with most ordinary sarawakians, we aren’t exposed to alot theatre. I went with an open house. This is the view we were welcome into.

As you can see, we are comfortably seated in a long table with lots of local spices sprinkled across the table. At the head of the table, Yap Chiw Yi welcomed us. In front of her, there’s this silver dome.

From underneath that silver dome, out pops this human head! With a thunderous Hello that radiates throughout the room, we are both surprised and thrilled to pay attention to him, Razif Hashim — who also works for NTV7.

In front of each of us, there was a menu.

Hazif declared our first course will be Sarawak Laksa. He explained that laksa is actually a peranakan cuisine and it only came to be after 2nd World War, around 1945. The origin name of Lak-sa is unclear. Some says it comes from Hokkien ‘lak’ being spicy. Some says it traces back to Hindi/Persian lakhshah which means vermicelli.

We were each served with a bowl of Sarawak Laksa and as we are seated along a long table, casual chitchating with people next to you are a courtesy. Everyone comes because they are curious and intrigued by the event.

As we absorbed in the aroma and the unique setup of our dining environment, the silver dome once again being lifted up and out popped Hazif to introduce our second course: Milo.

True to its raw and storytelling elements of the food play, we were told Milo is a favourite among Malaysians. They raised a good question why the Malaysian parents feed their children with this 40% Sugarly drink as a daily breakfast solution! As sugar only makes us hungry, we will only eat more and that is the reason why Malaysia is number one in terms of diabetes per population in South East Asia.

The dinner moves on with more short stories. As we are being served with food, we are challenged intellectually to ponder interesting topics that we usually take for granted. Seen here are some scenes from the dinner.

It is definitely a dining 2.0 As we draw towards the end of the play, we are challenged once again with the question of ‘what does multiculturalism mean to you?’

I live in a city called Kuching and a nation called Malaysia. I admit we have struggled with the concept of multiculturalism for the longest time. As my ‘dinner partner’ noted, multiculturalism can fall out of fashion like a seasonal trend. This has happened way back in 1950 when it was in fashion. Now in 2018, we are faced with the same reality.

The fact is that multiculturalism exists with or without us trying to hate or to like it. We may have hated it due to past political preference but it has always been there. Human race has always been made up of a plethora of different cultures. Some may disagree. We may glorify or vilify it.

The only thing that you can’t do is ignore it. Because multiculturalism change things. Cultural diversity is actually Malaysia’s strength. We are the only country in the world that has such diversity in cultures. There are no obvious social engineering in our country contrary to other western countries. We must learn to see it. As more and more cultures are melted into this pot, which may sound like a dish called rojak, here is where Malaysia is born. We are really all just Malaysians, regardless of race, religion and cultures. Lain-lain in the race boxes that we still have to filled in, is it so important to label us like that?

In summary, it was a good dining experience. Go try it out. There is one more night on the 28th October at 7.00pm @ the old courthouse.