How are you? Did you have a happy childhood? No matter if it was happy or sad, we all can admit that all of our childhood lives were innocent and simple as the way it was. The older we get, the more we understand about the essence and the fun of childhood.
Time, years and moments passed, life changed and although we all know it is impossible to get back our childhood, we all miss the days when even a candy or one simple snack can make you smile and make your days perfect. Our childhood was such an innocent, fun and beautiful time. The more we face the fierce adulthood, the more we miss our childhood days which we can never get back.
Last week, when I was on route to deliver my customers' order, I had to pass through the road where my primary school exists. As I had a little traffic-jam, I had a chance to glance at the school. When I looked at the school, it was so quiet that it didn't fit with my memories. No kid, no teacher, no uniform, no bell rings, no playing, no shouting, no food stalls, all was so quiet like it never was when I was a child.
Although the school was closed because of the current political situation in Myanmar and a Covid-19 wave, as soon as I glanced, the moment and memory of my primary school day immediately came into my mind and drew me back to deeper memories.
Not only the empty school, but also the sky, the birds and the autumn breeze of February and March evenings make me nostalgic. We all know that we can't help nostalgia especially in this season.
When we think about childhood, snacks were one of the essential incentives for our childhood because we all know kids and snacks can't be separated. Although we can't describe the bond between these two, we all recognize and understand how big the bond was. In this article I will describe some snacks which motivated me during my school days.
Local snacks/ Local food
No 1 Khout Moat
The very first one is called Khout Moat which is one of Myanmar's traditional street foods. It has a sweet flavor and the name "Khout Moat'' also differs from different places around Myanmar.
Categories and ingredients
Mostly, two kinds of Khout Moat can be found, one with only jaggery juice, considered the normal ones and those with eggs or quails besides jaggery juice, the special ones. This snack is mainly based on rice flour and jaggery which are the basic essential ingredients for Myanmar foods and the other ingredients are coconut, eggs, quails, butter or oil.
In my childhood, the smell that came out passing through many buildings and many rooms when the snack was ready on the hot pan was actually epic and made all the kids drew to have those. As soon as we heard the school bell ring, we all rushed to that shop and queued our order. If you reached first and were fortunate, your order would be delivered during the break time.
As Khout Moat is street food, you can find it only at the street food stalls, some markets or in front of some schools. Nowadays, although some sellers use a gas stove while making this, some are still using charcoal stove to maintain its original taste and scent.
No 2 fried potatoes
Another one is fried potatoes. Although we had fried potatoes at home, strangely the taste is different and we'd prefer the one at the front of school more. There, 3 kinds of fried potatoes are delivered; sweet flavor, spicy flavor and potatoes with marlar taste called marlar potatoes.
The shopkeeper usually comes about 2 hours ahead of the school time and as soon as he arrives, you will see the crowd beside his shop placing their orders. Some parents even bought the snack in advance for their kids in order to have them ready when school was over.
When we were young, most shopkeepers used firewood stoves and now, they have changed to using a gas stove. The smell of the fried potatoes coming out of the gas stove was also one of the motivations to get when school is over.
No 3 Fruit salad from food stalls
When you are in the food stalls, you will also see some people selling fruit salad. Usually, those shops are for girls. Most girls like sour and spicy fruit salad. This shop is famous not only among the kids and students, but also among teachers and some staff because of the intention to lessen the sleepiness during the school time.
Because daytime sleepiness is a common problem and it can make it difficult to stay alert and focused during the day. In that situation, we have to rely on something which can help us feel more awake like having caffeine or something spicy and sour or making something fresh to draw us back from sleepiness.
For the ones who don’t like having caffeine, they can have fruit salad which has mostly sour fruits and you can ask the seller to make a salad with the flavor you want like super spicy and sour salad to drive away your sleepiness.
No 4 Moat Lat Kout ( Burmese Donuts)
Not only all of those products, you can also see another Myanmar traditional snack seller called Mont Lat Kout. Mont means snack in Myanmar and Lat Kout means bracelet, so it means the snack which looks like a bracelet. Some people call this the Myanmar Donut as it looks like a donut shape, with a hole in the middle of the snack.
Being one of Myanmar’s traditional snacks, rice flour and jaggery are the essential and the most important ones. When you order this one, the seller will make the rice flour paste into a bracelet shape and put it into the hot oil pan. When it appears at the top surface of the pan, you can have it with jaggery juice.
Besides Mont Lat Kout, you may also see other snacks or food made by locals like fried bananas and fried bread at this shop although it differs from one seller to another.
No. 5 Ar thar Pu Ci ( cotton candy)
In kids' minds, there is always one seller who looks like a magician because of the products he/she sells. The snack called "Ar Thar Pu Ci" stands as an amazing snack in every kid's mind.
At that time, we enjoyed looking at the snack making process during which a beautifully shaped and colored foam came out not long after pouring some sugar and food dye color into that machine.
When I was young, I never had a chance to have this snack as my mother didn't allow me to have it while saying all the time that it would make me cough and damage my health. Like the proverb says "Stolen foods are sweetest", that snack was the sweetest and the most delicious one in my primary student life.
Other local snack
You may also see the sellers of some barbeques, hotdogs and fried noodles or vermicelli when the school is over. They also had their own brand that they were really famous and got many orders when school time was over.
Unlike other snacks, these were already fried and ready-made at home and prepared in one's package. Although at that time, most of us were not allowed to have bbq and hotdogs, they were the most famous ones among kids.
Besides, the sellers of ice-cream, burgers, fried tempura, dumplings and so on will also take their positions on the street and prepare to sell with their own ways and flavor. Having so many choices to snack on when school is over, we didn't always have enough pocket money.
Although the traffic-jam took at most 10 minutes, I've already visited my primary school memories while sitting on my motorcycle on the busy road waiting for the traffic-jam. I can't describe the exact feeling of that time that memories came out step by step seeing the previous me who was having a happy, innocent and simple life.
Not long after delivering my customer's packages, I found one "Ar Thr Pu Ci '' seller on my way back home and I bought one from him and ate it at its place. Time and years passed and decades changed, the price of that snack also became nearly 10 times higher since I bought my first one. Strangely, the taste was not as sweet as I thought it used to be, as were the emotions and enthusiasm as well. Then I came to recognize that "Happiness has its own expiry date".