A few weeks ago, I introduced you to this series of challenges called Project Food Blog organised by Foodbuzz to discover the next "Food Blog Star" (whatever that means). Below is my entry to the first challenge. I hope you enjoy it, and please, vote for me only if you think I deserve to go on to the next round!
"I once read somewhere that to recreate something in words is like being alive twice. If only I am able to live parts of my life over again simply by telling you stories about my food adventures in a way that will make your mind spin, your heart do somersaults and your throat clamp up as if a large piece of chocolate fudge is stuck in it when you try to swallow. But I'm not that talented a writer, and I cannot evoke those kinds of emotions in my readers, even if I oftentimes want to.
Local round eggplants, purple Sōmen noodles in capsicum bowl, exotic-colored chilli peppers
There is, however, something I can tell you with absolute confidence and truth. And it is this: the act of pouring over old recipes and revamping them to create exciting new ones is a deeply reassuring, even spiritual, act for me. It convinces me that my and the legacy of those before (and hopefully, after) me will live on forever. Why do you think so many people connect their best moments and favorite recipes to their favorite people, their favorite relatives? So they are able to keep the memories, the essence of those loved ones alive in their hearts for as long as those recipes are being passed down, shared and savored.
My well-thumbed, well-floured, well-coffee stained recipe notebook
Food to me has always been linked to distinct memories, some vivid ones being at:
Ages 12 -16: Contributing my youthful energies towards peeling sacks of onions, garlic and chillies for the weddings of relatives back in the days when wedding banquets were 100% homecooked, never catered. Everyone in the family and neighborhood was expected to chip in and help prepare the food. I remember the watery eyes and smelly fingers from handling too many spices. Oh yes, I still do.
Age 19: Preparing and savoring food in a small, French village in a manner I'd never before experienced (Asian cuisine was more my thing growing up). The French hosts with whom I was staying had generously taught me how to prepare their rustic cuisine, breads, biscuits and tarts, how to sit and enjoy 5-hour feasts at the family dining table, how to shake apples fresh off a tree and pick grapes in a vineyard, and eating them on the spot. All for free.
Age 20: Learning to eat with a pair of chopsticks in an effort to impress the guy I was with at the time. I can't even remember his last name now, but I do recall the sensuality of having his fingers wrapped over mine while I was being taught how to grip food properly with those two tricky, wooden sticks. It took me a while to master the technique because obviously, the lessons were quite enjoyable!
Age 20+: Baking my first cake from scratch (it contained more flavors and colors than a Häagen-Dazs collection) and bringing it into the office all excited-like. Enthusiastic colleagues took their first piece, then stayed well away the rest of the day... it tasted that awful! After that humiliation, I started a collection of favorite cake and dessert recipes that I'd aspired to master because by golly, the next time I was to bake a cake, there better be a stampede because people would all want their precious piece - or two!
Red dragonfruit granita Roasted capsicum gelato Purple sweet potato pie
If I have to take a stab at describing my type of cooking, I think quirky wouldn't be far off the mark. As would colorful, flavorful, unusual and yes, utterly fun. Because that's the essence of who I am. My family and closest friends will all tell you that without batting an eyelid.
The recipes I've featured so far are a mix of healthy and sinful. I can never stick to just one or the other, that would be too predictable and dull for me. There are different facets of my personality, which I hope have been captured in the food and posts I've presented. Healthy or rockin', one thing's for sure, I try as much as possible to use fresh and good quality produce. Whenever I see great local (and sometimes, not-so-local) produce in the market, I’m already mentally forecasting our next meals or the baked goodies to be served up to family and friends. In other words, the prospect of creating something amazing on a plate just excites me to the core! Tell me I'm not the only one?
Working on this blog and watching it take a life of its own feels very close to falling in love. That’s not as whimsical as it sounds, because I know whatever I put out here comes from some deep source. The same thing when I put food on the table for family, friends and occasional strangers - what I’m really doing is spooning up a big dollop of myself onto the platters, whether they know it or not. People think they are just eating my food, when what they're really having is a piece of my life experience, my soul. There is no greater gift I (and also, you) can offer than that.
Whether I make it far in this PFB series of challenges or not, I know it will be fun stretching myself. There is still so much to learn! All I ask from you is this - enjoy the journey with me."