Authentic Gawai Food

Finally I am able to come up with this post after recovering from Gawai Blues or Gawai After Effects. Some people have emailed me whether we drink, drink and drink only during Gawai. I see their point as most of my previous posts have been showing people indulge in non stop drinking sessions. My apologies people.... Drinking tuak or other forms of 'alcohol' based liquid is just 0.01% of the celebration. In fact we do focus on other things apart from drinking. Most of the time we will sit at the ruai (community hallway) and mull over the Longhouse Action Plans for the upcoming Ninth Malaysia Plan which should bring our Longhouse to become the Most Developed Longhouse in Malaysia by the Year 2020. Furthermore we will discuss who will win the World Cup 2006 (Everyone agree it will be Brazil even if Brazil don't go to the Finals. For most of them, Brazil is always the World Champions. Who can blame them if they do not have the means to watch the latest news as there is no television transmission signal or electricty in their area). Everyone agree to agree that if Mawi was to be pitted against the competing Akademi Fantasia 4 aspirants that is going on now, he would win hands down. Hahahaha...I was just joking.... So one will see that if you are stay in the middle of the jungle without these essential amenities and utilities, the only thing one can do is 'Ngirup sampai pagi'. Incidently I have this liking for 'a new drink' which many people miss every Gawai and that is the 'Ai Ijok', which is another type of alcohol, found mostly in the Lubok Antu and Engkilili area.

Ai Ijok (Ijok Drink)

So what is the Ai Ijok? From my experience of consuming the drink, Ai Ijok is different from the famous rice wine or tuak which is the official drink for Gawai. Ai Ijok originates from a tree called 'Pun Ijok' (Ijok Tree). The latex-like sap from the palm family tree is extracted (like tapping rubber) in the wee hours of the morning and used to make the drink. The alcohol content is almost the same as the rice wine except that it is preferably taken fresh and warm, just after fermentation, and you will realise it tastes like..... Ai Ijok. That is the beauty of it, Ai Ijok, is unique. Its just like eating durian and you can't compared it with eating Apple. Maybe another way of looking at it is comparing Coca-Cola with Pepsi Cola. Ai Ijok is the Macintosh of Iban Alcohol.

Please note that Ijok is best served in this 3 Litre to 5 Litre Gallon Container. It brings new meaning to the Mother of All Drinks. We try to finish it in one session as it may not last the night as it tends to turn sour. Here we see Darren's father in law doing just what is required of Ai Ijok. He went to bed early and recovered the next evening.

The ijok we consumed was given by my Johnady's family (my sister's father in law) who hails from Lubok Antu. Here I would like to share the photos of thier longhouse, Rumah Manai, in Lubok Antu which is just a 10 minutes ride from the Lubok Antu Town. Its a 4 hours drive from Sibu Town. Just to show some of the readers the different variety of longhouses we have in Sarawak.

The front view of Rumah Manai Lubok Antu

Rumah Manai from another angle

During meals the Ai Ijok will be served in a smaller container (equivalent to One Jug). Lubok Antu - Engkilili should be given a name and I propose it to be Ijok Land.

Gawai Food

Gawai would not be complete if I do not talk about the Gawai Food. Yes - like I mentioned earlier. Gawai is not about drinking our hearts out. It also meant that we get to enjoy Iban Authentic Cooking. Something that I miss when living in the City. The food during Gawai is something we all look forward to, and when the best cooks gather to show their skills, one cannot help but to forget about the diet plan that one may be observing now.

Mama Mia - all home cooked

The tekuyong or snails - suckingly delicous and the pulut panggang

The juicy barbecue meat

The cook usually taxes one chicken wing per dish before sending the cooked ones to the kitchen

Ikan Salai or Smoked Fish with Terung Iban (Iban Cucumber/Veggie). It goes down well down your throat with whatever form of alcohol, especially after you throw up.

Kasam Ikan or preserved salted fish with veggies

Ikan Pegong or Pond Fish (brought from the Longhouse)

Royal Gawai 2006 In Kuching

I was in Kuching when the Gawai 2006 State Level was held (I forgot the exact date). The event was graced by Malaysia's King and Queen. I decided to take a different approach with this celebration as I think I am suffering from an overdose of Gawai at that time, if there is such an expression. My colleagues had been quite busy preparing for the event - while I was partying across Sarawak. I knew they too had it up to their nose, especially the Protocol Division, bearing in mind that the State Election has just passed, and the organisers only managed to put thier thinking hats just three weeks after the event. I will have to salute them for pulling this through and giving our Royal couple the chance to enjoy Gawai with us in Kuching Sarawak.

With the International press and also local press covering the event, I would assume that there will be thousand of online photos and also in other forms of mass media. Looking at their numbers and the expensive cameras that they are carrying I would prefer not to cover that battle front, lest i get trampled to death. So I opted for covering the ordinary people's view - which I discovered to be not that much. I would be able to enjoy with the real Kuching folks and tourists - these are the people who braved the rain that night ( as the tents were not provided for them). To avoid the rain, I could easily get a pass from the people coordinating the event and get myself a first class view. But hey, I am glad I did not coz I discovered how it feels to be in the back room.

The Royal Couples and the VVVIPs get to sit on that very big platform

The VVVIP tent from another angle

How the ordinary people view what is on the stage

The International Guests and Journalists are given covered tent

The Head of Departments, Agencies and other lesser VIPS view

The regular audience view (on a Live Screen)

How will he experience the Gawai spirit and performance

If I was to give my comments it would not be very pleasant for the organisers, so I rather not. I just have to parrot the comments I got from the ordinary people and tourists, so as to benefit whoever is planning for similiar events next time. Amongst the grouses were that the VVVIPs tents and platform were so high that it blocked the best view for those who stood behind the Royal Box. Those who viewed it on the screen which were placed around the Amphitheatre area said the screen view was not so clear. They complained that they might as well watch it on television at home (which would be more comfortable than getting wet in the rain). Furthermore as the show was coming to an end and approaching climax, it rained heavily- I forgot to take the snap shots of the kids who were part of the audience (my camera was not rain proof). The handicapped and the tourists from Semenanjung and Overseas who came to watch the 'show' could not really enjoy themselves as they had to watch from the corners which were blocked by the a taller crowd of people. They had to stretch their neck and occassionaly jump to take snap shots from their cameras. So I hope the organisers can take note. Well, at least the VVIPs enjoyed themselves, I guess that mattered most.

Right, I will come back with more posts once I recover from the Gawai Blues......Its been a real fun this Gawai and I look forward to the next Gawai (or this year's Christmas?). I would consider the Gawai Chapter to be almost closed. Its not that I want it to close, its just been fun. So when you are having fun, you do not really want it to be over.

I know Shania had more fun than I did this 2006 Gawai.


SIB KingFisher said…
oh.. the tekuyong, the BBQ prok... and I think I spotted fried daun ubi.

we the rakyat need to suffer a little so the VVVVIPS can enjoy the show.. I don't even watch the show.. said…
owhhhh .... u just made me feel hungry looking at those foods ..... arghhhh!!!
Unknown said…
The pictures of food are glorious! Especially the pork.

Bloody awesome.
Apu, tengok endar meda gambar utai dempa nya! :-(

The VIPS got to sit under a fancy tent while the peons sat outside under the night sky ... not fair! :-)
GerubiTuai said…
Igat Des, ahhh tikau kitu keh sekerat dua ahhh. Ka meh minta sangkung tang ukai alah sangkung kaban semua neh..tau mabuk kitai enti nyau nyangkung siku siku! Bisi enchuri bangku VeeIPees bala? Uji urang ti tuai tuai ambi nyadi veeIpees ahhh..age before beauty ahh..just kidding. Good pictures Igat.
Very good food! Wonderful!
Anonymous said…
Wah, best amat pemakai Iban nya deh! enti baka nya baru asai gawai Iban endar neh, baru taun tuk tudah aku nemu enggau ngirup ai tuak. Taun nyin ila ulih nyedia ke pemakai Iban baka tuk rindu bendar makai begempuru ba rumah panjai enggau diri serumah kelebih agi enti bala petunggal datai magang.
nyamai amat utai nya.
lawa kitak bisi datai ke LA... :)