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  • Picture 1: Unwrapped tempeh [pronounced tamp-pay]. Soft, furry fungi engulfed soybeans and wrapped in banana leaf.

    Picture 2: Sliced tempeh.

    Picture 3: Deep fried tempeh.

    Picture 4: Crispy, delicious tempeh.

    Picture 5: Peanuts, potatoes, anchovies and tempeh stirfried in chilli paste (yum!). Perfect with any carbohydrate of choice.

    The tempeh is a traditional food for Javanese. My father has never heard or seen of this food item before rooming with a Javanese guy in Cameron Highlands.

    One evening, Daddy was preparing dinner and saw this weird packets filled with something unidentifiable. Daddy thought the food has gone bad and tossed it out with the trash.

    When it was his roommate's turn to cook dinner, he sought high and low for his precious tempeh. Cameron Highlands was quite the boondocks in those days and tempeh did not come easy at the market (he had bought it the last time he went home to his Mom's).

    "Man, have you seen my tempeh?" asked Roomie. Man is a diminutive of Rahman, Daddy's third name.

    "Eh? What's that?"

    "I kept it in the kitchen. Little stuff wrapped in banana leaf."

    "Oh ... that thing. It has gone bad, so I threw it away."

    "What? It's gone bad? But I'd just got it last week."

    "Dude, it's all furry and gross. Of course it's gone bad."

    "No! It's supposed to look like that! AAARGGHH!"

    "Oops. My bad."

    A few years after that, Daddy married a Javanese lady (that's my Mum) and every time he goes to the market, he bought tempeh. And he learned that the disgusting furry thing is both nutritious and delicious.

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