Writing about food – Me?

When I sit down on quiet nights to reminisce about my childhood, all I can think about is food. The little time that I got to spend with my father when I was a kid was always after dinner. My father would snuck me out, quietly away from my mother who’s rather strict about our diet then, and we would drive 20 minutes into town just to get satay.

It wasn’t particularly amazing satay. We would stop by to get a stick or two, happily munching away in front of the stall while getting smoked smelly. On the way back home, I would fall asleep in the car and my father would willingly carry me back home and tucked me in for the night.

Nowadays, when I obsessively jot down my day in my journal, the first thing I need to write down is my meals. What did I have? At where? Was it good? I even started a little notebook filled with recipes and notes about my little experimentations with baking. (More flour to add chewiness to my chocolate chip cookies.)

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When I began my journey as a photojournalist, one of the projects that caught my eye was this photographer who went around documenting people who ate alone in our society that can’t seem to stomach ‘being alone’. And I started documenting bits and pieces about everything related to food – markets, stalls, recipes, people dedicated to food.

Throughout the years, my observations and experiences in documenting people showed me how easily food brings people together – just like the satay excursions. Almost every major festival has a symbolic dish of its own. Think eggs on Easter day, pineapple tarts on Chinese New Year, turkey for Thanksgiving, the list goes on and on. Families spend ages in the kitchen cooking up a huge homey meal during these festivals. Some families have their own secret recipes for certain dishes, and they have to have those dishes every year!

When dating a guy whose background was completely different from mine, I found the easiest way to introduce him to my culture was through food – my mother’s fried rice, fried mee hoon that I love, a warm bowl of porridge that will cure anyone’s homesickness.

Never would I have thought there will be a day I have to write about food for a living. Some truly happy moments that I have experienced involved me rolling my eyes back in satisfaction as I savoured food that tasted out of this world. But how do I translate all these feelings into words? How can I make people who are sitting behind a screen, taste?

I feel severely incompetent in expressing those moments. The people that I see talking about food are experienced brash chefs who spent years and years toiling away in the kitchen (think Anthony Bourdain, Gordan Ramsay). To be honest, on some days when I write about food, I feel useless. How can I make someone eat something with just words?

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How can I convey the happiness that I feel when I eat something so tasty that it washes away all my stress from work that day? Or when I need a pick-me-up, I huddle in a corner with a tub of ice-cream or a simple chocolate bar and that would cheer me up instantly?

Seven years in the news industry, and I have chosen this path. I have made quite a few turns, far away from what I envisioned myself to be five years ago.

I have chosen this path. I know that I love documenting everything about food, especially the people who work so hard creating them. I love food – and here’s to hoping I am able to be my truest self when writing about it.

 

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Solace

14717092_10154079665898123_5848165847140840219_nMy ‘weekends’ are usually on Thursdays.

I stepped into the bar – unusually quiet – late in the evening.

It might sound a bit cliche as I tell the bartender that I ‘drink to forget’. Sometimes it’s stress, most of the time it’s more of a tongue-in-cheek thing.

Halfway through the night, the entrance creaked open. It was exceptionally loud and clear as there were only six of us in such a small space. We all turned and stared as the door swung open. As if it wasn’t dramatic enough, the music stopped playing in my ears and I waited in anticipation.

A middle-aged lady with short bob and glasses peeked in. She squealed, froze and ran back out.

By the time the bartender ran to the door, she was nowhere to be seen.

Maybe she was surprised to find a room full of liquor, dimly lit behind an unassuming door.

And it is here, when I need a break from the chaos, bright lights in this city, that I can forget.

毅力


偶爾在睡意還沒離開我的時候 會不小心踢倒放在床腳的盒子
每次把它放好時 心裡總會涼一下

--
《你好有才華!》

才華,它好像屬於你的,可它真的屬於你嗎?

黑人作家James Baldwin能清清楚楚寫出被歧視的人們的感受,痛苦的經歷,那全是才華的功勞嗎?

10歲開始因為是黑人,走在路上被歧視;從小被養父虐待;這是他的經歷。他能寫出讓你感慨,思考,重估自己的故事,不是因為他的才華,而是在種種痛苦的經歷裡,他的毅力,堅忍不拔的性格啓發他的文字。
--

當初我熱愛的相機已放在一旁好久了。以前曾經和朋友說過《為了生活,有時候想做的東西只能擱在角落。》

朋友總會問起 為甚麼不接婚紗等類似的案子。
攝影師會喜歡 會愛上攝影是因為背後有他想說的故事。

而我為甚麼當初拿起相機,是為誰說的故事,常常會在深夜裡檢討自己睡不著時浮現。

“Talent is insignificant. I know a lot of talented ruins. Beyond talent lie all the usual words: discipline, love, luck, but, most of all, endurance.”

小巷

14141997_10153936011148123_580893457241553076_n陌生的城市裡 喧嘩的街道
我騎著單車 穿越小巷
尋找一個能夠休息的地方

看見灰暗的小巷裡 離大路不遠的地方 有點亮
騎著騎著想想 是這裡嗎?

開門的那剎那 一股濃濃的咖啡味 還有宋冬野那吹眠的聲音
慢慢的 我感受到了

還記得那晚我隨手拿起吧台上的一本書
讓我久久待在咖啡店裡
看著隔壁桌的年輕人 好想告訴大學時的自己
「il faut aller voir」

我花了多少時間 才發現這一趟旅程 並不是我要的尋找夢想
也不是逃離現實
而是看別人生活 再來看看自己 看看未來
穿越自己停格在裡的思想


『地方』 已經找到了
現在只剩下
「il faut aller voir」

26

Whelp, here’s to me not being 25 anymore D:

Looking back, a lot have happened since 2009 – pursuing my studies abroad, finding my passion, falling out of love, exploring countries which I didn’t know their language, feeling at home and nostalgic in the mountains of Poland, falling in love, experiencing new cities on my own, meeting new people, being anxious over my career path, self-doubt, loneliness, regrets for not spending time with people who matter before they leave forever, feeling unsure about my decisions, feeling grateful for the times I was welcomed with wide-opened arms, bonding over pizzas in my mentor’s backyard, meeting new family members, saying the hardest goodbye to the person who mattered the most to me then, and coming home.

Things didn’t go quite as planned in the last few years since I got home. I missed a damn good opportunity, turned down a few to pursue other adventures, but I don’t regret any of my choices.

I gotta admit, this year has hit me the hardest and I’m grateful for the bunch of crazy people that will always have my back.

I may have strayed from my original path, but I made sure to learn something from my experiences and put them to use.

In 2015:

1. Common sense is not that common, really. I learn to stick to my principles and stand up for what I believe in. Even though the process may be slow, but I believe in doing things the right way and to see through it. And that I can’t right every wrong, especially when it’s not my wrong to fix.

2. Communication, even when it’s open communication, has a lot of layers to it. Humans are fickle-minded beings. I learn to care about only those that matter to me and to tune other things out. I can’t please everyone and the only person who can make myself happy is me.

3. My circle of friends have gotten smaller. I used to be the social butterfly, swinging from groups to groups. But this year, due to time and distance, I can’t simply split myself up. For those who manage to stick by me, even when my contact with you is sporadic, thank you. Thank you for still being my friend.

4. One step at a time. No matter how big the problem is, or how deep rooted it is, I can only do so much. Focus on the task ahead, and try not to think too far (thinking ahead is a good thing, but not always). Baby steps, Karuna. Baby steps.

5. Letting go. I thank you, for standing by me for the past five years. Things grew out of our control and they were no longer what I thought they would be in the beginning. I chose to let go and not drag it on for a few more years unsure whether the outcome is something that would be best for us. I wanted it to work out, but I couldn’t let go of my other responsibilities. Sorry for having to let you go the way I did. And thank you.

Here’s to another year ahead, and hopefully, I’ll be better.

Pale in comparison

img_20140926_001352Amaretto Sour – TCRC, Tainan


There are things that I can’t forget and when compared to other similar things, they all pale in comparison.

My experiences in the last few weeks of 2014 and the first few weeks of 2015 has probably taught me more, and probably are things that I don’t want to remember. But the lessons that I have learned, stood out more (probably also the reason why I crave for a drink at 2pm).

Speaking of things that I cannot forget, the two cups of Amaretto Sour that I had in Tainan – the best that I have had so far. I probably spent half of my time in Tainan either thinking about drinks, or drinking.

I don’t even remember the conversations that I had in that bar, but I do remember the Amaretto Sour. Even after two months, I crave for it and long to return. At this point, I’m not sure if I miss the drink more or Tainan more. :p

The right amount of tanginess, sweetness and slight amount of sourness, the aromatic smell of almonds, the right amount of fuzz/foam on top, yum yums. The moment I drank it, I fell in love with Amaretto Sour again and again. All the other drinks that I have up until that point, pales in comparison. The Apple pie shots, Jameson, El Dorado, Long island Iced Teas, Patron, Hendrick’s, all went to the back of my mind. All that mattered was that Amaretto Sour.

That Amaretto Sour is still on my mind. I really need to find its equivalent in KL. I know in the back of my mind even if I do find an equivalent of it, it’ll probably still be pale in comparison because what I’m truly looking for will only exist that one time, that first time I tasted it in TCRC.