Blistered Peas and Poppy Seeds

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There’s this food blog that I’ve been following for a while. It’s special, because despite all the alluring and well-taken photos, I have never once followed any recipes posted, simply because I have a hunch they won’t taste good.

But still, I follow her. Not religiously, not bookmarked and sitting on my to-read-list, but occasionally, when handsome food and beautiful writing come to mind, I fill the address bar with its name.

If words could be eaten and food could be read, this blog would make one hell of a restaurant serving it’s writing. There’s just a particularly something about the writing (the easiness?) that makes it so relatable. It turns every dish into a story and every story into a well executed dish.

It marries both of my favourite things in life—food and words—and maintains a romantic, jealousy-inducing relationship. It makes me excited about writing and ready to cook. It makes blistered peas topped with poppy seeds look, feel, taste and read like a dream.


P.S: It is so liberating to write in long, never-ending sentences that don’t have to make sense as long as they sound like they do. Writing full-time does things to your creativity and makes you lose your sense of wonder. I’m not complaining, but I’m glad to have some place where mediocre writing can be left to live it’s mundane, mediocre life. 🙂

I Will Be Great

giraffe The other day we were at Starbucks, you picked up a magazine and leafed through it absentmindedly, periodically stopping to take a sip out of the Hojicha Latte set upon the table, equidistance from you and me. When the swishing of pages paused for a little too long, I barely noticed, until I felt the uneasiness of your eyes boring holes through the book I was holding.

“Is this your article? Oh my god, it’s your name! In a legit magazine. In Starbucks!”

“Yeap, that’s me.” I quipped before snatching it over to snap a photo for my mother who’s still hung up over my drop out from Law School. “What is that.” She cooly replied.

I want to be big in the industry. Big, as in you’ll be saying my name in hushed whispers big. Big, as in you’ll be envious of my life spent living aflutter and be jealous enough to leave spiteful comments on my Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Big, as in big enough to pick up a random magazine on the news stands and either find my name in the mast head or as reference in a feature.

The sad news is? I’m still frightened. Frightened of the gargantuan figures in the industry, of the interviews I have to attend and the small talk I have to make. I am inferior of the way I talk, the way I laugh and the way I hold my wine goblet when a toast is proposed. I hide behind my laptop, behind the false sense of security it provides me, pushing out words I carefully compose and artfully string into a melody.

The sad news is? I’m not there yet. Not near, nowhere close. But it’s okay, because sometimes it’s fear that sets the heart ablaze and lights up the long winding road ahead. And I’m alright with that.

Some day, I will be great.

Oversized Singlets

When I do it, I open a blank document and start my usual routine. 1) Change my font to Times New Roman, 2) Adjust my font size to 10, and 3) set my zoom level to 100%. I like seeing my thoughts stain the pristine white background with its coal black words. Its like watching the nectar of an overripe beetroot bleed into the cuticles of your skin. I never saw myself doing it, but I ended up doing it all the same.

The blister on my left index finger is making this a very trying job. Its making every ‘w’, ‘e’, ‘r’ and ‘t’ key I press feel like a subtle punishment. Like when your mother cooks peas for your every meal after a failed your math test. I don’t like to think that I’ve lost touch. That after having not done this for a while, I have forgotten what its like to have the contents of your mind emptied onto the platter that is this vast social network. That after having not done this for a while, I have forgotten what its like to have veiled unfamiliarity react to the aforementioned thought vomit as if it had been written by a long lost friend, a stranger you’ve known your whole life. The other day I told you, I felt my heart breaking – as though someone I was to love so very much in the future had just disappeared. That I was mourning for someone I had yet to love, and now would never have the chance to do so.

I like seeing my words fill up blank spaces. I would scribble them on whitewashed walls, I would chalk them on concrete grey pavements. I would inscribe them with the pebbles on the road, I would mark them with the blood from my fingers. I would write even if they came out illegible, I would sing if they wouldn’t come out in words. I would cry them even if I choked.

I like them the way I fill up loose singlets, like there’ll always be space for more.

Bread Song

Breads sing. When you take hot bread out from the oven and leave them in the baking pan, and if you listen close enough, you might hear their song. It is a delicate, magical melody that sometimes sounds like the world quietly sighing under the weight of your feet. The breads sing because their crusts contract upon cooling, so they make this crackling sound that transposes into a melodious song in a baker’s ear.

Bread’s sing when their crusts crack. They don’t whine, moan or cry. They sing.

Recipe For Perfection

I love to cook. Okay, maybe love is an understatement. I love watching beef brown in a pan, love hearing the sizzle when a shank hits the grill, love the feel of fresh herbs when you pluck them from your garden and the residual smell of Dill on my hands. Cooking is like free falling for me. I think of a dish (or an ingredient) I would like to make, type in a few keywords into the all-knowing Google search bar and its all instinct from there. I wish I could give you a better description, but recipes speak to me. I just know when I’ve found the perfect recipe, even if they include ingredients like Saffron (that, for your information costs about USD$3/gram) and Heirloom tomatoes (impossible to find).

Just yesterday, I was sifting through recipes during work and trying to stealthily prevent my colleagues from discovering pictures of mouthwatering chicken stews waving to them on my computer screen, and I happened to chance upon Cat Cora’s (First ever female iron chef, mother, pretty woman and every feminist chef’s dream come true) chicken stew recipe. At first I was like woah woah woah, this is a must make. Even if it calls for half a bottle of white wine. (You should know that I have had minor accidents in the kitchen while handling alcohol. Some include getting high near an open flame while trying to finish up the left over red from my beef stew and almost lighting my kitchen on fire while attempting to flambé quails in Cognac.) Actually, cooking is easy, if you’re able to follow instructions and pick out the right recipes, you should have no problem whipping up something moderately palatable. But I guess to me, cooking really is about experimenting. Back to the Cat Cora story. So I bookmarked that page and got ready to choose a bottle of cheap white from my cellar and suddenly I felt odd about Cat Cora. No, not the chef herself. To be honest, I am deathly afraid of her actually. The way she yells at people on Iron Chef? No thank you. When the right recipe finds you, you’re supposed to be smiling. Whether or not there are pictures of the final dish on the site, whether or not there are a million reviews raving about how it’s a 5 billion star recipe (true story), whether or not it came from a site like food.com or some dubious place like nytimes.com (the chicken stew recipe that ultimately spoke to me came from here. No joke.). The perfect recipe makes you feel like the dish is going to be a hit, even with your grumpy aunt who seems to hate all cuisine and all meat types. Its supposed to make your tummy rumble even before you’ve gone down to the grocer to get your ingredients. Its supposed to make you want to match it gram for gram, salt grain for salt grain so you don’t mess up.

Key word: Supposed. Because when I cook, I never follow the recipe. I mean I do to a certain extent. I add sage into the minced pork because the recipe said so, just that I add the entire pack instead of the recommended amount of 2 tablespoons. I add laughter, I add love, I add a broken pepper grinder to the recipe, even when not required. Sometimes I add tears, I add heartbreak and a dash of determination to live a little better. There will never be a perfect recipe, only recipes that speak to you and tell you “Hey, you might want to give me a try.” Just like how in life, people may hand you recipes that, tried and proven, is the route to a perfect life. But only you will know how much disappointment, pain and sorrow, how much happiness, joy and laughter you have to put in it to make it YOUR perfect life. You. Cooking is about finding out what you want. There will never be too much salt in a dish, just someone with too low a tolerance.