Mamak And Indian Curry House Etiquette

Monday, May 25, 2009

Have you ever gone to the Mamak stalls before? If you are a Malaysian and you have not stepped into a Mamak place before, I am just going to assume that you are one abnormal Malaysian!

Even if you are not that Mamak food crazy, (you're weird!) normal Malaysian goes to the Mamak like a pious Jew goes to synagogue. I am neither a Jew, nor am I pious. But when it comes to fast available cheap foods that are delicious, I go to the Mamak or the Indian Curry Place. I order my usual Nescafe Tarik, the Nasi Lemak Kambing and the Appam, for desert.

Oh pure heaven.

Some days, the food and drinks reach to my table quick. Some days, especially when I am hyper restless and waiting-for-food-that-takes-its-own-sweet-time-to-be-served is making me crazy; I start to watch the waiters. If you're familiar with the etiquette of making an order at the Mamak place, you have no issues.

But again, if you have not been to a Mamak stall, I'd say you are weird. Very.

First, when you order, get them out straight to the point. If you can speak the language of the waiter's, then you can allow yourself to chit chat about your grandmother's stories.

If you want your order to be understood, use the simplest Malay words (yes, we are in Malaysia) to convey them. Or the most Basic English will do the trick. Do not try to talk science and technology. What the hell is wrong with you?

Do not try to over explain your order to the point that you start to contradict yourself and feel stupid.
One time, my blessed mother, she wanted a very sour lime juice with Asam Boi.

She said, 'Saya Mahu Masam Punya, Saaaaaaangat Masammm, Limau Kasi Banyaaaakk, Maaaasam yee Manisssssss.' The waiter nodded. Me and my sister, we were looking at each other obviously confused. But the waiter had left. Later, he came with the said drink and my mom got her very MANIS (sweet) Lime Juice.

Don't ask me why she had to add 'Manis', at the end of the order. We heard she said it but she amazed us by saying she just simply did not recall ever saying it. The waiter checked in the last word of the entire very long detailed request into his brains.

What you should do is this: Make the order: 'Satu Limau Ais Masam'. That is enough. Sure, the waiter can get it wrong but at least you have made the order as clear as it is possible. You can safely blame the waiter too if he still gets it wrong.

While you are in the process of giving your orders, try to not get distracted by the movement of the ball being kicked by somebody through the wide-screen television or by a very cute lady who is just passing by in front of you. Or a cute guy, for that matter. Teach your brains to get your food and drinks order out first. Close your eyes, if it helps to block these silly distractions.

The last thing you want to do is to be screaming some obscenity or simply drooling with your mouth wide open while the poor waiter waits for you to recover from your lapse in the normal etiquette of the normals.

Try very hard not to hog the table if it is the kind of table that is there to be shared with other people. It really is not charming of you, and yes, you will get eye-balled for being a freak too. Yes, we do get it that you want some space. No you do not get that here, so why don't you go fly to Starbucks. At the Mamak, we share that long table with noisy hungry people. It's the unwritten rule that everybody gets.

Yes, you may ask for extra rice if you are still hungry for more especially when you're feasting on the very spicy and delicious Nasi Daun Pisang (Rice served with dishes on a banana leaf). Do not be shy to request for more side dishes when you want to. But please try not to gobble up your food like a starved animal.

As it is a culture in Malaysia to use the hand to eat, you can use your right hand to eat. Or if you prefer to use fork and spoon, please ask for them. If you are left-handed, I guess you can use your left hand to eat as long as it is clean. But no you do not use your feet that is just plain crazy.

shanaz@RS | 2:18 AM | Labels:

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