La Sarm Chiak La Sarm Pui

(Version in Hokkien)

La Sarm Chiak

La Sarm Pui

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(Version in English)

Eat Dirtily

Dirtily you’d be fattened.

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About the Proverb/Saying:~

This saying is quite often used on individuals who are particular about food hygiene. How this saying came about is anyone’s guess but two centuries ago, hygiene is but a strange word in Penang. Progress and self advancement takes priority and most people live by simple food while saving for their uncertain future in a strange land. And so it was then that wayside stalls gained popularity as a simple hunger filler because thriving on quick affordable meals is to them good enough. Along the way, people might have suffered or died due to poor food hygiene, nutrition, sanitation whatever or from added spices settled on their meals but somehow as luck would have it, many who worked as stevedores, hired helps and coolies  subsequently advanced to become shopkeepers, traders and merchants in their own right outsmarting their colonial “tuans” (bosses).  Hence because many survived to tell their tale, despite the unwarranted amount of added spices that makes up their daily food intake, it enhances their believe in this simple saying that one cannot be too careful or choosy with their food otherwise they wont live long. Comically, in our present day, you can still see and hear one uttering to himself this saying while picking up food accidentally spilled onto the table and putting it back into their mouth be it in cafes, restaurants or some street stalls!

The author/owner has compiled for record, a collection of early Hokkien sayings, proverbs, rhymes and ditties to capture the essence and spirit of his hoi polloi, a community originating from the southern province of Fujian, China where individuals climbed aboard bum boats, crossing the South China Sea to settle in faraway lands to escape the brewing civil unrest and a way out from hardship carrying along with them in their journey, nothing except their trademark ponytails and their beliefs, very much rooted in Confucianism. These proverbs and sayings has always been a guide and lesson to the many who has never been to school so as to help them steer well in the river of  life and in a way, it seeks to retell their lifestyle way back then so that the younger generation can gain an insight and foothold to their origin..

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