Thursday, November 17, 2016


I had a love-hate relationship with food while growing up. On a good day, I would only eat food that was prepared by myself or my mother. And even then, I always had a lingering suspicion that my mother was putting sugar and other stuff I did not want into my food. Even up till today, I'm notorious for bombarding her with my inquiries over the dinner table. (What's in this? Did you put soya sauce? Is there cornflour in the gravy? Is this a free-range chicken?) On a bad day, I would eat nothing but sweet potato or yam because I was terrified of refined carbs and sugar.

A few weeks back, I had to fill up a questionnaire for our corporate newsletter about healthy eating where I was prompted for some tips or 'rules' to help others sustain a healthy lifestyle. I giggled thinking back on the rules I'd previously subjected myself to: no carbs, no pork for blood type O, the caveman diet, vegetables only, vegetables and eggs only (I love eggs!), vegetables and eggs and tofu only, green tea and 300 kcal per day.

The rules turned eating - a joyful social activity - into a lonely struggle. Eating out became increasingly difficult, so I started eating at home more. And when tension escalated over the dinner table whenever I'd refuse to eat the food my mother had cooked, I ate alone. I wasn't able to abide by these rules for too long because they were extreme. I became lethargic and moody. And whenever I broke a rule, I would berate myself. So weak! No self-control! Disgusting! Not good enough!

It took me a long time to understand that the control I thought I had, I didn't really have. And even after that epiphany, it took an even longer time to get over the fears and re-establish a balanced relationship with food. But when I finally stopped withholding food from myself, I also stopped withholding love from myself and everything became infinitely better.

I'm glad that there are no more rules today, that I don't have to worry about being judged for eating "weird food," that mealtimes are no longer a great exercise in calculating calories, that I can reminisce on my tuberous roots days and laugh.

But if I had one rule - just one - it would be to eat everything in its natural form, nothing from cans or boxes where possible. (Unless you're making spaghetti bolognese. Then always get bottled tomato paste. And frozen peas in a bag - they're good too.) Processed/ready-to-eat food is one fear I haven't been able to rid myself of. And for good reason. 

Even apples that are too big and too red are scary too, because chemical preservatives and genetically-modified food seem unnatural and against the way of the universe. Scott says golden rice is good, though, because it is enriched with beta-carotene and has saved many lives especially the malnourished in the third world. I haven't read enough about it or thought of a good counter-argument, so my battle is currently against luncheon meat, gummy bears (although I loved them as a kid to the point where all my front teeth were rotten because I ate so much of them), crab sticks, canned sodas, and anything else that I can't really make out consists of what.

Just a word of caution about eating eggs out, always order them sunny-side up. Even though I know I'm eating an egg, some food establishments poach their eggs in advance, stick them in the fridge and then reheat them as and when they are required. And don't get me started on scrambled eggs and the possibility of making them from powdered eggs. Basically, trust nobody! Cook your own eggs! Cook your own meals!

Scotty made flatbread for breakfast one weekend
Adding some salt and herbs to our bread
Despite my many words denouncing processed food, we had our flatbread with chorizo and baked beans. Cheeky cheeky. Everything in moderation! Also on the plate is a fried egg and ribbons made from carrot and cucumber.
Even though dairy is not intended in nature to be human food - it is food for baby cow - and the stark fact that Scott is not a baby cow, he loves his milk and drinks it by the carton. We were only a couple of months into our relationship and it wasn't the right time for my inner control freak to shine, so I passively placed a glass of warm water with honey and lemon to his right. He drank both.


I spent 2 years drafting and draping in art school to sew Halloween costumes for my sister's children. Yay life! A couple of years ago I made them cloaks because they wanted to dress up as witches and wizards from Harry Potter. This year they asked for vampire capes. I'm lucky they don't ask for anything too complicated!

Scott and Bailey helping with the pattern cutting

Scott modelling the cape

Bailey the vampire dog

Quinn and Lulu testing their capes

We didn't have enough fabric to make 3 capes so Freja went as a pirate. Although Scott offered a clever solution, "just sew 2 more collars on here!"

Scott and I indulging in a bit of the old ultraviolence. Again, dressing up as the guys from A Clockwork Orange was Scott's clever idea. I'd never heard of the film before so Scott put it on before we went to the party to help me get into character. But we stopped watching about 5 minutes in because it made me feel very uneasy.

Mariah as a person with scary makeup, Tat as a 20s lady, Rah as a karate kid, Ame as a Mexican fighter. Nobody knew who we were :(

My cousin Emma saw our pictures and asked, "What the fuck were you guys? ..... Babies?"

My favourite dance partner

I hope everyone did something fun for Halloween too!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Chicken Pie

After a month of dating, Scott lured me to his place with the promise of tuna. Even though I am not a cat, this trick worked. I was very curious about our dinner because when a boy offers to cook you tuna, there's always a chance he is just going to crack open a can of tuna for dinner.

It was only then did I learn that Scott had worked in a kitchen as a teenager. And as I watched him manoeuvre his knife so swiftly – not just any knife, mind you, but his knife he's had for the last decade or so – did I realize that Scott only means serious business when he says he'll cook.

I didn't take a picture of the first dinner he made for us because I was too busy trying to keep my chill. But I was not able to maintain that juvenile pose for long. What's the point of pretending to be neutral, above it, unmoved by it? What's the point of trying to appear disengaged and apathetic? What's the point of imitating a stone or a slab of ham? Since then he's been cooking, and I've been snapping.

Here's a picture of the chicken pies we made some weeks later. He made everything from scratch! We didn't have enough pastry to completely cover both pies hence the rustic latticework.