Most people who visit Malaysia comment on how wonderful the food is - and who am I to disagree? You can choose between Malay, Chinese and Tamil cooking traditions or, as so often happens, just mix them together. What I hadn't anticipated was the freshness of the food - vegetables that look as if they've just been picked and seafood that clearly was swimming only hours ago.
Undoubtedly, the star turn of our meals has been breakfast. People in Malaysia clearly believe in the benefit of breakfast. We've had good and interesting breakfasts wherever we've been. But for a variety of reasons mainly to do with not organising ourselves far enough in advance, in Melaka we've been staying in a rather more upmarket hotel than is usual for us and breakfast here is unmissable - a performance. There's a big open kitchen in the centre of the dining room with displays of food ranked around it. You can always begin with fresh fruit...
melons, sweet pineapple, papaya, apples, oranges, starfruit, watermelon - or, if you'd prefer, whatever fresh fruit and vegetable juice mixture you happen to fancy
I think I've already written that I'd fallen in love with roti canai dipped in sharp vegetable curry sauce or dhal for breakfast, but I've been fickle. Even though I love watching the roti chef knead and and cook her fresh rotis at breakfast time
I deserted the rotis first of all for nasi lemuk (rice cooked in coconut milk with toppings of hard-boiled egg, fresh peanuts, tiny dried fish and cucumber slices - and I can't resist adding a spoonful of chicken curry rich with coconut milk)
but then this morning I found a new passion - noodles of my choice with fish balls, crab sticks and bean sprouts cooked on the spot,
then moistened with chicken stock and topped with coriander and shallots. I wimped out on the chillis of varying strengths that others added to their noodles.
I haven't even managed to sample the egg man's wares. He's a most flamboyantly efficient cook - cooking eggs to people's individual specifications, managing at least two omeletes and eggs of varying kinds at any one time. A great show.
Then there's salad and sliced meats and baked beans and french toast with maple syrup and hotcakes and sausages and, and, and.... but no bacon. All the food is certified halal and there's no bacon or pork to be seen anywhere.
However, just in case you're still not satisfied by what has been on offer, you can fill up with freshly made bread or cake or pastries (or 'kek or pastris' to use the local spelling). The Malays have a great enthusiasm for kek and it's almost always good. Here at our grand hotel it's excellent.
Going home to muesli and toast (prepared by myself) will be a real come-down.