Thursday, September 29, 2011

Old Gadgets Quiz #3

Can you guess what is this object used for? Hint: we used it in the kitchen.




When I was a kid growing up in a kampong, I used to help my mother with chores in the kitchen; like pounding chilli, pounding fish meat for making fish cakes and fish balls, plucking chicken feathers and so on. One other task involved the above gadget.

Here’s an old photo of my late mother and her sister taken in front of our house. Notice that there are lots of coconut trees in our kampong.


Ok enough of distraction. Here’s the answer.

Answer: It is a coconut grater. Nowadays the process of grating coconut is mostly done by machines and housewives simply bought the grated coconut or the coconut milk directly from the market.

The equipment for grating the coconut was quite interesting. It was made up of a block of wood measuring about two to three feet in length. At the end of this block is fixed a small circular blade with serrated edge. To grate the coconut, you have to sit astride on the wooden block. Holding a half coconut, you run it repeatedly over the blade in a series of forward motions. The grated coconut would drop onto a pan below. In Cantonese we called this process, ‘pow yeh’.

The above photo of a kampong-style coconut grater was taken by my friend YG Ong during a visit to Kuching, Sarawak. It is slightly different from the one we had in our house. For this one, the blade is mounted directly onto a bench whereas in our case, it was mounted on a block of wood.

11 comments:

Zen said...

Nowadays whenever I visit a supermarket I marvel at things that make life easier, especially in the kitchen. House wives need not be good cooks at the kitchen with all those ready-packed sauces, spices, instant noodles, ingredients and others. Cooking can be done at super speed aided by modern appliances, just for example a micro-wave oven. Now I can really feel what a tough life my poor mother had gone through during those kampong days, slogging in the kitchen to prepare meals for her family single-handedly. A simple coconut grater can bring back nostalgic memory of the past.

Lam Chun See said...

Recently I saw an Induction Cooker being sold at the supermarket. Really cool. Can save a lot of washing; plus the 'heating plate' does not get hot. Amazing.

Zen. I don't think it's the coconut grater but the photo of our mother that brings back nostalgic memories for you.

peter said...

If you ask Victor for his opinion, he probably have a different view as to what this equipment could be use for. Catch it?

Zen said...

Chun See - You are right our mother passed away some eleven yrs ago and as we know parental love is always unconditional. Therefore a lingering rememberance of their presence can always be felt. However, that simple coconut grater does invoke the memory of the difficulties of our time as compared to now, but to be fair to our present generation, they similarly have to face the daunting challenges of the future.

Tom said...

Chun See, Is it a dough hook.

Andy Young* said...

Haven't seen one for years. Can be dangerous with kids running around.

fighting fit said...

In the market, the stallholders had a machine for grating coconuts. It turned a metal ball with spikes sticking out (like the end of one of those weapons in Chinese wuxia stories). The uncle would hold the halved coconut against the turning ball.

Royal Plaza on Scotts said...

We love your blog and we have shared this post in our Facebook! :)

Lam Chun See said...

I just added a photo of blade.

Tom said...

The blade looks very sharp.

CHIA Yew Heng said...

Have even used that item - help my mother to 'scrap' coconut 'flesh'. Sometimes too eager will injure the fingers..