You know how I know a packet (bungkus) or plate (panas) of nasi lemak is likely to be good?
It’s when I see the banana leaf.
There’s nothing really rational about it, actually. Perhaps it’s the smell of hot coconut rice mingling with the scent of banana leaf. Maybe it’s the fact that it costs the seller a little bit more for the banana leaf. It might even be due to nostalgic association – back then, nasi lemak was always wrapped in banana leaf. You could even say that the red and white coloured meal just looks more pleasant against a green backdrop.
All I know is that it works.
I – and many others – prefer to buy from a vendor who wraps his or her nasi lemak in banana leaf over one who wraps it in plastic sheets. I’m not even sure if we notice it half the time! Nevermind if both packets are ultimately wrapped in newspapers. Heck, expectations are raised even when nasi lemak is served on a banana leaf in a plate!
Others are catching on, too.
Despite the cheaper costs of plastic sheets – which serve the same purpose – vendors are still turning to the humble banana leaf. Some, as I mentioned earlier, even cut it to fit on a plate so customers will still enjoy some “authenticity” of good ol’ nasi lemak. Others have even made plates in the shape, colour and texture of banana leafs – perhaps to invoke that association to authenticity and, more likely, to quality.
You see, packaging nasi lemak the humble banana leaf – once considered the poor man’s plate (for he could not afford proper cutlery) – has become a somewhat powerful but subtle brand statement. It has become associated with nasi lemak that is more likely to taste authentic… and divine.
Is my product’s packaging doing the same thing?
p.s. You have to be Malaysian to really appreciate the joy that is nasi lemak. It really is my utmost favourite food!