Are you a winner?

A toy robot in a pub
If you're Paul Starkey, then congrats, you are! You've won a vintage copy of The Second Pan Book of Horror Stories, plus some other bits and bobs. (Frankly, you're lucky the gingerbread mummies are making it into the parcel, as I was tempted to eat those myself.)

I posted some Halloween cards off to relatives on Saturday, but still need to make my Halloween cake for work. I'm planning on making a mummy-head carrot cake this year, and bought a special nozzle so I could pipe the cream cheese icing into 'bandages'. I hope it works!

Today is the second day of Thadingyut, which Mr Robot and I mark.

It's a Burmese Buddhist festival, the festival of lights, and a time when people honour their elders and teachers. I'm not a Buddhist, and while I believe I have some Burmese ancestry it's very distant (1/16 at most), but we were in Maymyo/Pyin Oo Lwin, my granddad's home town, at Thadingyut a couple of years ago, and it left a lasting impression on us. I do sometimes wonder how much cultural stuff my granddad gave up when he moved to Britain, and how much of that was voluntary. Before he died he'd spend ages looking at a book of pictures of Burma my dad got him; I think he missed it. Eating Burmese food and lighting a candle is a good way to reconnect with what might otherwise be lost – and if you can't remember long-gone family members in the run-up to All Soul's Day, when can you?

Toppings for Mandalay noodles
All these things go on the noodles, putting the Mmmm in Mandalay
Anyway, that's the heavy bit. What it boils down to is: Mr Robot made Mandalay hand-mixed noodles last night, recipe from Mi Mi Aye's book Noodle! Mi Mi is an all-round awesome person and has really helped us when it comes to cooking Burmese food and learning a bit about Burmese culture. These noodles were the most Burmese-tasting thing we've eaten in ages. You pile the noodles into a bowl, then put on some of the chickeny sauce, then add all the other bits and bobs, toss it all together and enjoy. I put in lots of fish sauce. I hated fish sauce when I first tried it, then I grew intrigued by it, and now I'm addicted. Tonight we're having glossy black pork, oxtail curry, rice and a couple of salads. There will be plenty of fish sauce in the salad dressing.
Mandalay noodles before mixing.
As you can see, we used cutlery, being clumsy Westerners


  1. That sounds like a lovely way to honour your family.

    It took me a long time to accept fish sauce-there are some really interesting ones out there.

    1. I tend to use one called Tiparos, which is Thai, though Mi Mi swears by Three Crabs (if I recall correctly). In Burma it seems to be used the way Chinese cooking uses soy.

      I still can't get used to ngapi, which is far too fishy for my liking. That's a sort of all-purpose condiment. But fishy. FISHY.

  2. That's a wonderful way to honour and remember your Grandpa.

    The handbag? My Great-Grandma carried to Florence's funeral, Grandma carried it to her mother's and her other sister's, Mum carried it to Grandma's and I carried it to both of my parent's. I think I'll have it cremated with me! xxx

    1. That's a long tradition for the bag. It seems fitting you should take it with you.

      Poor old granddad. His mum was Anglo-Indian, his dad was half-Irish and, I believe, half-Burmese. And then he came to Britain via the Army. What must he have made of 50 years of British 'curries'?!

    2. Have you ever shared a photo of him? What a life he must have had. I can imagine the racism he must have encountered, it was bad enough here in the 1970s. British curries! Even I can't eat them after a month in India xxx

    3. There's one of him at the Sphinx here, though he's not very detailed in it:
      (He was serving in the Army at the outbreak of WWII, and I was told that photo was taken the day war was declared.)

      As for racism, as far as I know he never got any, though it may just have been something he never spoke about. I remember as a kid being told that my dad's naturally tanned skin and black hair were because of the Irish in the family (NB the identified Irish ancestor was a redhead.) So I think the lack of other people commenting must've contributed to him not really talking about the Asian side of things; if you *could* pass, why wouldn't you? It'd make life easier for everyone, spouse and kids included. It wasn't until after he passed away and I saw some photos that I started asking questions and doing some digging. His brother, Bunny, looked properly Burmese.

  3. Replies
    1. Yes, so email me your postal address! (to crinolinerobot AT yahoo DOT com)

  4. My respect for your grandpa, dear Mim.
    You have said it honestly. if we can't remember them on a special day, when can we? In our culture, as a matter of fact, we have FOUR days a year to pay respect for the beloved ones that are now gone. For each season of the year, there's one day (always a Saturday) that we pay our respects.
    It's important.
    Heritage matters.
    ..and the plate looks yummy.
    Give my best to Mr. Robot. :)



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