LANGKAWI INTERNATIONAL LAKSA CARNIVAL
By Kamila Delart
Laman Padi, the Rice Garden Museum Complex in Pantai Cenang, hosted from Friday to Sunday (25.-27. May) the Langkawi International Laksa carnival that attracted in the course of three days more than 15,000 local residents, domestic visitors and foreign tourists.
Organized by the Langkawi Development Authority (LADA) and Chef Wan Sdn Bhd, the unique event was a celebration of the traditional rice-noodle delicacy and the many exotic flavors of Laksa characteristic for the various regions of Malaysia.
The opening ceremony began with a heartfelt welcome by Tan Sri Kahlid Bin Ramli, the CEO of LADA (see picture), and was followed by an opening speech given by the charismatic celebrity Chef Wan, known all over the world as the Food Ambassador of Malaysia.
The popular rice-noodle soup was brought to Malay Peninsula centuries ago by Chinese immigrants, and became over time a beloved national dish. There are two main types of the local delicacy: Curry Laksa with coconut milk, fish, shrimp and shellfish, and the Asam Laksa with fish sauce, tamarind, shredded mackerel, and finely sliced vegetables such as cucumber, lettuce, onion and red chilli.
However, each region added with time special ingredients, developing recipes that bestow the Laksa a distinctive flavor. With a variety of food stalls representing the various regions, the visitors were invited to sample Laksa from Penang, Teluk Kechai, Kuala Perlis, Kelantan, Johor, Pahang and Sarawak. A truly unique opportunity to embark on a culinary journey across Malaysia and an unforgettable sensory symphony for the taste buds!
The Langkawi International Laksa Carnival was filled with an array of exciting activities: There were live cooking demonstrations, with Chef Wan and several local and international Laksa Masters sharing their favorite recipes. Five culinary schools entered into a competition for the most delicious and visually appealing Laksa, while the public enthusiastically participated in a Laksa contest for hobby-Chefs. Especially popular was the Laksa eating competition, challenging the contestants to eat two large bowls of Laksa as fast as possible.
Although revolving around food, the event was also a great platform for Malaysian art and culture in general. Visitors had the opportunity to purchase traditional handicraft, and enjoy live music performance. A group from Serawak introduced traditional rainforest songs, with the singer imitating the calls of a hornbill while being accompanied on the sape, a one string instrument from the lute family popular with the ‘Orang Ulu’, the upriver people from Borneo.
As a special guest performed the popular cultural music group Dendang Anak from Terengganu.
Although famous for their inspiring lyrics, even foreign visitors who don’t speak Malay felt touched by the beautiful melodies, and the passion with which the artist delivered their songs.
With the winners of all categories being awarded attractive prices, the closing ceremony of the Langkawi International Laksa Carnival 2012 was a truly joyful event! The prestigious title of Laksa Ambassador 2012 along with the price of 10,000 RM went to Mohd Nor Efendi bin Saidin.
An enormous success, the Langkawi International Laksa Carnival is sure to be back in the following year. Already looking forward to sampling the 2013 rice-noodle delicacies? As the celebrity Chef Wan said: ‘Food is a way to make people happy. It can unite people from all walks of life and cultures, and bring compassion, peace and love to the table. When we sit together and eat, we promote better understanding and harmony… So make sure you don’t miss the dates. It’s about more than just the wonderful flavor!