What I know before we arrived in Melbourne is that it is a multicultural city.  According to a Victorian government website (http://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au) dedicated to document the profile of the city, there are approximately 140 nations residing side by side in Melbourne – with a significant proportion of Asian population.  The heart of the Asian community is always boils down to its food.  It is suffice to say that, if there is only one cultural heritage allowed to be brought into a foreign country, it has to be food.  Hence, explains the establishment of Asian continental stores around Melbourne, right from the CBD to the suburbs.

The largest Asian store often highlighted in this city is Laguna, located in QV Shopping Center.  It has a good variety of Asian delicacies, from dry to wet to frozen items.   If you happen to crave for roti canai (and refuse to spend a good $10.00 or so for a dish of roti canai at Pappa Rich), go to Laguna and try to locate them at the frozen section.  If you needed bunga kantan to garnish your pot of Penang Laksa, go to Laguna – chances is you might find some there when the other continental stores fail you.  I don’t really frequent Laguna because it is out of my daily route.  The only reason I frequent Laguna is when I am in dire need to replenish my stock of Maggi chili sauce, and normally I will buy 3 in a go (there is discount when you buy more).

Closer to home in Glenroy, there are two Asian stores that we patron quite frequently; conveniently labelled as “Kedai Asia Has” and “Kedai Asia Din”   – based on who found which.  Both are different in the way that who manage them.  My kedai Asia is managed by a Vietnamese couple and Din’s kedai Asia is owned by a Chinese lady from China.

Note to self: insert images of the two stores.

We have specific items that we buy from each store; frozen squids and Malaysian produced fish balls (and fish cakes) from the my kedai Asia. For Chinese herbs, eggs, canned food and dry stocks (black mushroom, ikan bilis, noodles, spices) from Din’s kedai Asia.  While the Chinese store offers good varieties of spices and food that we normally use in our kitchen, another reason why I love frequenting this store is because I can converse in Mandarin with the owner.  Not that I will get discounts on my purchase, but I like the sense of familiarity (at least in the language) that reminds me of the kind of home I grew up in.  I supposed my upbringing which inclines further to the maternal side justifies this.  Well, let’s have a look at the Asian ingredients that we have at home:

Spot the not. :-)  That bottle of kicap Kipas Udang is always a lifesaver!

Spot the not. 🙂 That bottle of kicap Kipas Udang is always a lifesaver!

Chili sauce, belacan, cili boh, sesame seed oil, and additional two different types of kicap amongst the other ingredients really complete our home.

Chili sauce, belacan, cili boh, sesame seed oil, and additional two different types of kicap amongst the other ingredients; really complete our home.

Not everything “Asian” that we consume comes from  the store.  For fresh items that we normally use e.g. lemongrass, daun kesum, mint leaves (no Gina, I will never ever replace them with toothpaste!), coriander, spring onion (daun bawang) and parsley (daun sup), we prefer to cultivate them and as of the date of this entry, they are doing well in our backyard – except for the coriander as the cat loves to land on them!  In Iris’ words – that cheeky cat!

A limited view of our backyard.

A limited view of our backyard.

The cheeky girl and the cheeky cat.

The cheeky girl and the cheeky cat.

Sprouting coriander - patiently cared by Din.

Sprouting coriander – patiently cared by Din.

Mint leaves aka the crude "toothpaste" left by the previous tenant. Thank you!!

Mint leaves aka the crude “toothpaste” left by the previous tenant. Thank you!!

Our lemongrass - it is hard to grow them in Melbourne's crazy weather.

Our lemongrass – it is hard to grow them in Melbourne’s crazy weather.

Rosemary - courtesy of Nuruzzaman.

Rosemary – courtesy of Nuruzzaman.

Vietnamese mint leaves better known as daun kesum in our culture - courtesy of Rodzy (Azami). Din always says, "daun kesum yang panjang amal..."

Vietnamese mint leaves better known as daun kesum in our culture – courtesy of Rodzy (Azami). Din always relates them as: “daun kesum yang panjang amal…”

The discourses of home suggests that home is not entirely about the physical appearance of the house – it is a combination of the elements that make us comfortable in that space; the household and interaction between them.  As food is an important element that binds us together, we won’t create our home out of something that we are not familiar with.

Moving to a different country doesn’t mean that we adopt an entirely new culture and abandon ours.   We are bound to bring some part of the culture with us and whatever lacking, is compensated and improvised with what the destination country has to offer.  As newcomers, we often try to make the best out of this new environment to sustain the norms and beliefs that shape us.  From the way I see it, the presence of Asian continental stores enables the notion, and therefore making an Asian home in this angmo region is not as challenging as we presumed, as long as we know where to look.

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