[编辑 Editor 刘大人 中译 Translator 吕大人 郑大人 摄影 Photographer Johor Kaki]
To EAT is… bliss!
Finally, after a year of preparation, the “Find Dining with Johor Kaki” guide to Johor’s heritage and street food is ready 😀 This guide book is not Johor Kaki‘s alone – it also belongs to the hawkers and Johoreans who generously shared tips on where are the best eats in Johor. My special thanks to MAGistrate杂志大人 and UMLand for their support in producing and printing the guide, which will be available to the public later this month!
The “Johor Kaki” story – how it all began…
When I retired 5 years ago, I wanted to do things I enjoy for a short while before deciding what next. I love eating, taking photos, discovering new places, and meeting people. I also enjoy writing. Blogging about food allows me to do all the things I enjoy, together. At that time, I just began to learn about blogging and thought of it as an online digital dairy which few people will read.
Not long after I started blogging, from feedback and response that I am getting, I realised that my blog was making a useful contribution to small stall holders and people looking for food in Johor. My blog was connecting food and beverage businesses with customers.
I felt encouraged that my limited resources (other than time, energy and commitment) could become something valuable to the community by leveraging on the ability of social media to reach and connect people. What was initially a personal pastime became a community service of sorts which I am deeply committed to.
Why Johor? Because I love Johor food and have the vision that one day in the near future, people will talk about Johor food like how they talk about Penang food and Ipoh food today. Because of its rich history and special location at the crossroads between East (China) and West (India) and also North (Asian mainland) and South (Indonesian archipelago), Johor have many unique and delicious food to share with the world. I hope Johor Kaki blog helps more people discover the wonderful whole of Johor food.
The highs and lows
It always leaves me energized and happy for many days whenever a small stall holder tells me that his/her business, and therefore their livelihood, has improved when people share about them on social media. Encounters like this make me forget the considerable difficulties I faced in keeping Johor Kaki blog going.
Paying for my own meals…
The matter of getting paid for food reviews does not arise as Johor Kaki is just a pastime and merely my online personal eating dairy. The only difference between Johor Kaki blog and a traditional dairy is that my food dairy blog is open for everyone to read.
At the moment, I like to stay true to the original purpose of Johor Kaki blog when it was started. Any change will only be when it is absolutely necessary.
We have also decided to distribute this Johor Kaki guide book free of charge as an appreciation to Johor hawkers and also their customers. Because, only when there are both hawkers and supportive customers will any food culture thrive and grow from strength to strength.
Discovering the unique Johor identity…
Johor have it’s unique dishes which the Johoreans identify closely with. For example, we all know that every region of Malaysia have their version of laksa, Laksa Johor being one of them and Asam Laksa Penang is another. The variations are outcomes from historical developments, and the influence of different ingredients from the land and sea. These variations are important as it represents the unique identity of communities of people and differentiates one community from another. From a foodie’s point of view, we have more recipes and dishes to enjoy.
Food gives communities identity and at the same time, food has the power to bond peoples, within communities and between communities. No matter where we are, we find that people celebrate with food. People show love and care by sharing food. Eating together is a form of cultural exchange and strengthens relationships – people who eat together, stay together, be it family, friends and even international communities. So, I hope that greater awareness of Johor’s unique food brings Johoreans and visitors closer together.
Savour the past and taste the future…
It’s natural that food changes over time just as places change, people change, everything changes. Food that do not change much even when many things around it have changed are naturally rare and should be treasured as living legacies.
In Johor, it is fortunate that there are still a few such gems. Sang Heng noodle shop in downtown Johor Bahru is much the same to this day but we are not sure about the future. Hiap Joo’s banana cake baked with a near century old wood fired oven looks secure in the hands of the next generation.
But, we need to recognise that these are living legacies which need to be supported if we hope to continue enjoying them in the future. I am glad that Johor Kaki blog plays a small part in this effort.
Feed or fit?
No, no, no, I am not exactly fit as a fiddle. I am overweight and have too high cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar. While eating, I have to watch what I eat and also exercise as much as possible. I brisk walk at least 40 minutes everyday and go trekking whenever I have the opportunity.
I am already blogging about healthy lifestyle activities like trekking. Next, I am going to include a healthy eating section in Johor Kaki blog. That will remind me to watch my diet.
Life beyond Johor Kaki…
Johor Kaki is at it’s core, just my online diary. When I have the opportunity to travel occasionally, I will share my personal thoughts about the food, people and places that I have experienced.
I am especially interested in representative dishes through which we can understand a place, it’s history and people. For example, Johor’s Laksa Johor, Singapore’s Hainanese chicken rice, Indonesia’s nasi ambeng, Bangkok’s boat noodles, and many more. This food adventure is a never-ending journey of wondrous discoveries.
Behind the scenes