The photo that I uploaded on TwitPic today reminded me of my early years in Malaysia and my struggle to fit in.
Air sirap ros (rose syrup water), sometimes shortened to air sirap, is a cold drink made out of rose-flavoured cordial or syrup, sweetened with sugar, and normally served in Malay weddings and many formal functions. Perhaps in the olden days, it used to be real rose extracts but nowadays, if you check the labels, it’s all artificial flavouring and colouring. Sometimes, the rose syrup is mixed with condensed milk, turning into an intriguing sweet pink drink called sirap bandung.
Whatever the case, air sirap takes a little getting used to. At least, from a foreigner’s point of view. Personally, I found the smell reminiscent of uncooked sweet potatoes (Malay: keledek, Filipino: kamote), which is not horrible per se but because it reminds me of uncooked sweet potatoes, I found it very difficult to enjoy initially. And by ‘initially’, I mean two years. You read it right — it took me two full years to get used to the taste! Over the years, I learned to tolerate its taste and, eventually, to even like it. But way back then, oh how I dreaded receiving wedding invitations because weddings meant spicy food, with only air sirap ros to wash it down!
So if you’re new in Malaysia and find yourself in a wedding reception somehow, be warned: that innocent-looking red drink is not strawberry juice by any chance.