See the thing about girl-talk
It isn’t about finding a solution to our affliction
It isn’t about conversation being a means of distraction
It isn’t about communication of scintillating information
It’s about wanting to be heard and paid attention
So this is perhaps what happens when one random word leads to another and out births a poem of sorts. Interesting and thoroughly enjoyable process, short though as it was. Got to admit, I’m not familiar with poetry. Actually, this does seem kind of like a rap, a very proper sounding one that is. I must confess that when I read the Lord of the Rings when I was younger, I skipped all the poetry bits, all of them, that’s a lot. I did attempt to read a bit but all those beautiful poetry just washed over me and I just didn’t get it. Not that I can foresee myself reattempting to read them anyway. There are just some books that you know you’ll only ever read once, as good as they may be, just like there are some movies you know you’ll only ever watch once.
I really like WordPress’s fullscreen mode blogging now, it is spartanly sparse. I press spacebar in the title bar, which effectively leaves it blank instead of showing “Enter title here”, and then I start typing, and all I have on the screen are words. No text boxes, no title bars, no sidebars, nothing else. I can only wish my room could be this neat, comfy bed, perhaps a very simple bedside table, a rattan reclining chair near the window for reading, and that’s it.
You know of all the things people say they miss about staying abroad in a place of temperate climate, I don’t think I’ve heard anybody say they miss sleeping in total silence. Well I do. Total silence: No passing cars, no whirring of a fan or air-conditioning, no insect noises, nothing but the dark comforting silence in the middle of the night, when everybody in the house is asleep. And you tuck yourself into bed, letting the duvet engulf you, and allow yourself to slowly drift off to sleep.
Anyway, I think I’ve come to the point where I’ve relegated my blog to a random collection of posts none of which are tellingly personal yet not really impersonal. This is not where you would come to if you wanted to know how or what I’m doing, there’s Facebook for that.
Funnily enough, there are two main search terms that will lead somebody to this blog. The first one involves Broga Hill, a hill near my previous uni that has in recent years became a hotspot for people from the city to go on weekends. It doesn’t seem to matter that when I went there on a single occasion and blogged about it, it was about three years ago. Now the place is just overrun with people, and people making profits off it such as charging people for tours or car parking.
The second search term that leads to this blog is one that is entirely misleading: sushi buffet kuching. And it was because I blogged about once going for a sushi buffet at Yo Sushi at KL. Yes, KL, not Kuching. Well, when I did come back from UK where I was very much Japanese food deprived, I was hoping perhaps to see what there is in the way of a sushi buffet in Kuching, and there it was on one of the top search results, my blog post. It took me having to read through several blog posts till I gathered that perhaps my best bet was to try one of the hotels here if I wanted to go for a sushi buffet. But I have not actually tried any, and now come to think of it, I probably wouldn’t. Sadly, the age of my metabolism rate has finally caught up with me, and I no longer have the eating capability of a 18 year old.
Hence, I have had to exercise more discipline and willpower in my eating habits. I thought I was going to lose it when a jar of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies were bought and brought home recently. That first day, I only allowed myself to half a cookie. The second day, the cookies were still on the kitchen counter, not even half finished by the rest of my family, and it was so tempting to have one, or perhaps two, but I only had half when it was late afternoon and I couldn’t resist it anymore. There is something about these cookies from Appetit, seriously. My mum and I were at Oldtown at the Hills shopping centre when she went off to the loo, and somehow managed to be sidetracked by the bakery, Appetit, on her way back. Which was how we ended up with our first jar of cookies, which led to the second jar two weeks later, which I have had to practise extra willpower not to go near to. Well, the cookie jar has finally left all but one cookie now that oddly enough nobody seems to have taken. Hopefully, there shall be no third jar of cookies appearing at home, at least not anytime soon.
July was a busy month. It involved travelling to various parts of England and Paris with my family. I graduated. Moved back to Malaysia. Now fast forward to August and here I am in Kuching, the past two years or so abroad being mere memories from a sometimes foggy past.
Anyway, that was just a very brief recap. This post is really meant to be about what I unexpectedly liked about Paris this time round that I went with my family, that I did not realised when I went earlier on this year with my friends. I never ever would have imagined I’d get to visit Paris another time, much less just seven months after I had just been there. But I’m glad I did go in winter, when Paris was beautifully unmarred by the hordes of tourists as it is in summer.
This time round, travelling with family means also having to bear in mind that not everyone is like me and willing to travel in search of food. So there we were the first night in Paris at Champs-Elysees, we had just seen the Arc de Triomphe, and it was dinner time. From my previous experience, the Champs-Elysees is a touristy place where the eateries are either franchises or restaurants which give me the impression that no self-respecting local would step into. But, I did remember a tip where if you must eat in the area, McDonald’s is your best bet. So, since it wasn’t too far down the road that we saw McD’s, McD’s it was.
My main fear when going to eateries in Paris is the difficulties in communicating what I wanted, but there was no worries here, the staff could speak English alright. So I scanned the menu, (thank goodness for photos), and I spotted something that I had not seen in any McD I had ever been to before, alcohol. Beer to be specific. And from what little French I could decipher, you could get it off the meal deal. Why would I even want to drink Coke when I could have a beer?
As for the burgers, the range is quite different from what I’ve had in UK or Malaysia. This is a Royal Deluxe which my brother had, which is basically a revamped Quarter Pounder I suspect, with a nicer mustardy sauce and actual tomatoes. I’ve heard that some of the burgers on the menu actually use like French cheeses, but I wasn’t able to identify them then. Too bad for me, would have quite liked to try a McD burger with roquefort in it…
And they serve wedges as an alternative to fries as part of the meal deal, they are savoury with a crispy skin and fluffy potato-ey insides, nice. Continental McD is already looking so much better than UK’s at this point as I was sat with my burger, wedges and beer, in a affordable family eating establishment. Plus, the Champs-Elysees branch has these window seats where you can people watch from, though we didn’t sit there. Instead we had this like huge round table to ourselves, see what I mean about family eating establishment?
Well we did go to McD’s another time during our time in Paris. This time I ordered a CBO. Which from what I got from the images on the box stands for Chicken Bacon Onion? It says parfait on the box, which sounds a little presumptuous, a burger calling itself perfect, but it was pretty good I’d have to say.
You open the box to unveil a square-shaped burger bun topped with bacon lardons and sesame seeds, and it encases a deep-fried chicken fillet topped with cheese, crispy bacon strips and lettuce. The sauce was where the onion came in, I think.
At quite a few McD’s at Paris, there is an accompanying McCafe on the same premises, which has a range of desserts and drinks. Their tea is actually quite good, they come in pyramid-shaped fabric bags of infusions, or it was at the branch I went to at least. My mum ordered two slices of this flan. Just plain ole flan, but it was nice.
I read that McDonald’s is planning to build the world’s largest McDonald’s at the London Olympics site. Suits them well I suppose, UK’s McD’s seems like a more pop-in and pop-out place, the alternative to a kebab takeaway after a late night at town, or somewhere you’d go for a quick lunch when you’re sick of sandwiches. McD’s in Europe however, it’s a whole different affair, you feel a bit more dignified, to say the least. One thing’s for sure, Malaysia’s McD’s got nothing on this, not even with its attempts to fulfill local’s tastes with offerings such as congee and fried chicken. But oh well, who would want to eat that when we have Laksa, Kolo Mee, Tomato Mee…
A lot has happened since the last post. Had a poster presentation and an oral presentation for my final year project. Finished and handed in my dissertation. Immediately went away on a most English beach holiday. Came back.
Oh yes, I’m on my summer break now. It shall be the last holiday before I properly “grow up” and lead an “adult working life”. Except that I’ve not actually got a job yet, but all in good time.
One of my summer projects shall be to cook up a storm in the kitchen and document the process with photos. The kitchen experiment was an inspired idea from my housemate and fellow food partner-in-crime. We have quite different strengths in the kitchen, but our food tastes mostly agree and we both don’t in the least mind experimenting with foods. I quite look forward to this, though it will be quite a feat to organise and continually come up with something worthy of documenting.
I’ve been reading up on food photography and playing around with ways and places to photograph food within the house. And I’ve come to realise why the photos of food I took in my room generally looked nicer than those taken in other places, and it was because of the gauzy day curtains in my room that diffused the sunlight giving the food this soft natural light which just made food in general not look as if it was overly greasy. Thankfully it’s summer and I don’t have to think too much about artificial lighting because even at 8pm which is past normal dinner prep time, it’s still bright.
I think I outdid myself yesterday. I woke up and one of the first things I remember thinking when I was half-awake and still refusing to get out of bed was that I had to finish up my overly ripe pears and a crumble sounded like a lovely idea. Then, I set about preparing the pear filling and while that was on the hob, made the crumble topping. There is something I find that I rather like about crumbles, it’s that you can feel your way about it. Like I can just go about adjusting the ratios of flour to butter to sugar for the crumble till it gets that right texture that I can’t do with cake mixtures.
And then once that was in the oven, I got about making lunch. Which I even then had time to photograph, because I thought the fried egg turned out beautifully this time, which isn’t always the case when I fry eggs.
Okay you’ll see what I mean about what I mean about the glistening of the food photos that are not taken in my room, this was taken in the living room, which is where our dining table is, student house as it is. Love how the egg yolk looks here, makes me just want to pop it and watch the runny yolk ooze out.
So that’s that photo, unedited. Could have done with some editing, but I really can’t be bothered. Compare it with this photo of biryani rice that was made some weeks ago.
See how there is this softness about the light when the photo is taken in my room? Well I think it makes a difference. Instantly looks better.
Ok, so I was saying I outdid myself because later on that day, I was thinking of what not boring thing to have for dinner. And since I had quite a bit of milk to finish before its expiry date, I thought of making a roux. So, I put some butter in the pan, lots of garlic and paprika, fried some white fish fillet and flaked it up in the process, added flour, then I turned down the heat and added milk and stirred and it just developed into a glorious sauce. Seasoned that with salt and freshly ground pepper and had it with tagliatelle. Would have loved if I had tomatoes at hand, and perhaps roasted flaked almonds or some nutty earthy element. As it was, I had carrots just because I had to have some sort of vegetable and there wasn’t much vegetables in my fridge.
I’m looking forward to the kitchen experiments, perhaps we’ll even invite some daring people over to try them as well, haha! Meanwhile, I’m anticipating the coming of summer fruits! Cannot wait to make my first jam of the year =D.
Last week I went up to Sheffield and stayed with my sister who’s studying there. See the thing about hanging out with first years is they are first years and can afford to be a bit more relaxed about exams and stuff, sadly however, I am no longer a first-year, in fact I’m a final-year (gasp!). So it was all play and pretty much no work done when I was there.
Which was why I ended up barricading myself at home since I got back, trying to get work done. Trying being the keyword here. Because rather frustatingly, words are not coming to me in my writing. I read journal article after another, treasure-hunting for nuggets of wisdom to shed light on how to present what I’m writing, and this week it has been slow, to say the least.
After about 5 days, I was so glad to have a valid reason to get out of the house, to go to church for Good Friday. And it was great. Walked from the bus stop to church and it was so sunny and warm, and somehow I managed to make my way across 4 normally busy roads without having to stop for any lights or cars, which was one of those “this is pretty awesome” moments. And I had chance to serve at church today, helping here and there, and that was pretty fun to be honest. I was genuinely happy and my dissertation was the last thing on my mind, which was great!
Anyway, I was making chicken soup today, couldn’t be bothered to spend that much time in the kitchen so I made enough for lunch and dinner. Soup must be like one of the best “minimal preparation, amazing outcome” food. Before I had my lunch, sitting there at my sunny spot beside the window, I looked at what I had prepared and was inspired to take a photo of it.
Not too shabby looking. And then I felt like playing about with lighting a bit, so I reached into my drawer and picked up the first random piece of printed out journal article that I had, turned to a blank side, and used it as a light reflector thingy.
Hey looky, that’s looking a lot brighter. And that, was the most joy I’ve gotten out of that journal article. And probably will be the most joy I’ll get out of it.
Tada, story of a final year student’s simple joys in life.
I’m not much of a candy person myself. When faced with the option of chocolate or candy, chocolate almost always wins. I can relatively easily turn down candy offerings, not so much chocolate.
However, I found myself with a candy craving the other day whilst at the supermarket, quite unlike any craving I’ve ever had. So I ventured down the aisle of sweets, pondered my choice whilst being amazed at the array of sweets available, and later on picked out fruit pastilles.
Like I said, I don’t eat sweets very much. A strong memory I associate with sweets is that I have them on holidays when I went on planes. Normally my mum wouldn’t buy me sweets but she would make an exception for this. I remember hard-boiled fruit sweets, Mentos, the odd butterscotch candies, Polos… There’s something about each of them. Hard-boiled sweets the kind that you would try to suck and keep as long as you could in your mouth until you ran out of patience and crushed into them. Mentos with its minty taste and that refreshing feeling when you’ve had one of them and drank cold water right after. Polos that were fun to eat just because they had a hole in them, but they last for all of two seconds each before they are gone. Butterscotch candies were very rare, these were proper treats because they were quite a bit more pricey than the rest, but if you forgot one and left it in your pocket they left a horrible melty sticky mess.
Anyway, fruit pastilles did the trick this time, with their juicy and sweet chewiness. Some people may have favourites about which flavours of pastilles they like in a tube, but I like them all equally. Can’t say the same for M&Ms or Smarties though, even though they are all of the same colour, I think gravitate away from some colours more.
Okay, in all honesty, am quite stressed out by my final year project and dissertation, hence random post about fruit pastilles that I made my way through while writing. But I know I’ll survive, and will be graduating, and have a whole summer holiday ahead of me. It’s what keeps me going these days, especially when the weather is all sunny and lovely outside and I have to do work. About one more month to go before this is done, yay.
What on earth is that, you may think. Why it’s dough. The kind that invites you to plunge your hands into it and work your hands through it. Or perhaps not, if you’re the kind who doesn’t like floury messes. Yes, about the dough, I’ve never quite seen dough like this before, its texture runny yet incredibly sticky. Just tilting the bowl and letting the dough slide produced this effect in the photo. The pattern it forms rather reminds me of the network of gut blood vessels. Ok, ew.
Well this kitchen experiment was brought on by my housemate who pasted a link on my Facebook wall, pizza it seems was the order of the day. So first off was making pizza dough, from scratch. Which was how we ended up with this gloopy mess of a dough, quite unlike what we would have expected of a bread dough. But not to be put off, we went along with the risen dough and made pizza!
Gloops of pizza dough sitting on a tray, brilliant canvases for a meal that has much potential.
Did I mention that it was an exceptionally sunny day? Basil was nicely soaking in the sun by the window, its bliss only briefly interrupted by a short pruning session for the pizza.
Ryu isn’t fond of waiting times, and this pizza did take quite long to prepare.
But eventually it was done, and the flavours did turn out rather well. There were two versions: Both had caramelized onions, tomato and ricotta. One had chorizo/ham on it. The other had the tiniest prawns ever on it. The ricotta lent a very nice creamy kind of cheese element to the pizza, different from cheddar. However, there was the issue of paper sticking to the pizza, despite being oiled. Note to self, if ever to reattempt making pizza, shall make on different surface.