by Lena Koh Maltesen
After Ian Burnet’s presentation on the spice routes, what better way to savour the tang of turmeric, the kick of cloves and sniff the aroma of cinnamon than through the dishes that the museum volunteers brought to the Annual Potluck. More than 40 trainee and graduated guides attended the lunch held on the grounds of the National Museum on 25 January 2014.
Representative of the different races of the museum community, we were treated to French quiches, Danish rolls, Portuguese egg tarts, idaly (Indian bread made from rice flour) served with traditional Indian lentil curry and coconut, pulut panggang (glutinous rice with coconut wrapped with bananas leaf and fragrantly grilled), fish cutlets, soya chicken wings, almond cookies, sushi rolls and much more. In keeping with the forthcoming Chinese New Year, we also had a big box of Mandarin oranges. Jabatan Muzium not only generously sponsored the roti jala (a Malay pancake made of flour that has been artistically interwoven to form a lacy pattern) eaten with chicken curry, the Malay seri kaya dessert and refreshments but added a platter of delicious fried noodles. The trainees of Batch 20 and 21 were happily exchanging notes of their experience whilst learning more from each other on the origin of the dish each had brought.
All helped to set the table and lay the dishes in true spirit of camaraderie. Starting as strangers and after going through the trials and tribulations of 16 weeks of rehearsals and presentations, a kind of kindred spirit prevailed with some even volunteering to practise guiding with each other. Definitely, I felt that the Annual Potluck is the last of the icebreakers that undoubtedly forge new friendships.
This reminded me of the International Day that schools host to celebrate the diversity and the unity of the multi-racial community. If only we had the ronggeng dance and the national costumes. Perhaps next year, we shall come with our traditional costumes with background music to match …
Find more photos on Facebook of both Ian Burnet’s talk and the Pot-Luck.