GUESS what food can be prepared and eaten together by all races and in large numbers without any issue of racial sensitivity?
If I was asked this question before Ramadan began this year, I do not think I could provide the answer.
But after looking at the way the Muslims, and some non-Muslims too, have been preparing this thick congee in large quantities on a daily basis since the first day of the fasting month, the answer has become rather clear.
I am not crazy about bubur lambuk, but whenever I join others for buka puasa, I will never fail to sample this simple yet heartwarming dish.
Bubur lambuk is usually available during Ramadan, which means you will find it for only 30 days a year. Once you miss it this year, you will have to wait until next Ramadan.
The congee is, however, more than just a food item for the Muslims.
A Muslim friend told me that bubur lambuk is about the spirit of charity and gotong-royong.
When I went on to ask why other food items could not be given out for charity, my Muslim friend's answer truly delighted me.
He started by explaining that the bubur lambuk is usually cooked in a big wok by many people. A large number of people is needed because stirring a big wok of congee is both time- and energy-consuming.
One will also feel hot and sweaty standing next to that wok!
It is because of this that the spirit of gotong-royong is needed.
The congee is later packed and distributed to just about anyone.
Usually, bubur lambuk would be cooked in the mosque compound for easier distribution.
In the kampung, it can be cooked in any house involving the efforts of neighbouring villagers.
When I read the news of some 400 Rakan Muda members of different races in Johor Baru and Kulaijaya taking part in the Rakan Muda Bubur Lambuk 2012 programme, what crossed my mind first was not about the food but the unity that was shown.
Who, then, can possibly deny that bubur lambuk is a "food of unity"?
No doubt roti canai, nasi lemak, and chicken rice are enjoyed by the different races, but these are easily bought and not prepared gotong-royong-style.
Bubur lambuk, on the other hand, is not easily bought. Rather, it is commonly distributed free of charge. It is dished out in the spirit of gotong-royong, and then given away in the spirit of love and charity.
How I wish we can see this kind of activity taking place more regularly, to help bring the different races closer together.
Looking at how students from different racial backgrounds get together in preparing the dish, this is like a civics lesson brought to life.
Johor Youth and Sports Committee chairman, Md Jais Sarday, said the Rakan Muda Bubur Lambuk 2012 programme has achieved its objective of inculcating the spirit of volunteerism, nurturing a younger generation with high virtue and promoting the spirit of communal activity.
In this regard, may I then suggest that such activity be organised more often and not be restricted to only the month of Ramadan.
In the past, I was delighted whenever my Muslim friends came back from the mosque and passed me a pack of bubur lambuk.
Now, after learning the story behind bubur lambuk, I am sure every scoop of the congee this year will feel exceptionally heartwarming.