"I don't think that being a strong person is about ignoring your emotions and fighting your feelings. Putting on a brave face doesn't mean you're a brave person. That's why everybody in my life knows everything that I'm going through. I can't hide anything from them. People need to realise that being open isn't the same as being weak."

- Taylor Swift

Friday, October 29, 2010


I've always had this deep connection with food, and the main reason I'm weird is because of my eating habits.

For one thing, I don't count sandwitches as food. Two pieces of slightly-squashed half-thawed bread with a piece of soggy ham does not a good meal make. I couldn't fathom how people would chose a sandwitch over a proper meal of hot food - and I was the girl with the friend who brought a loaf's-worth of sandwitches to school, ate all of it gleefully, then tucked in to my sandwitches and his girlfriend's sandwitches and then bought more sandwitches from the canteen. Never understood it.

For me food had to be hot - with the exception of Vietnamese food. Vietnamese summer rolls are so wickedly awesome that they get away with being cold. Food was either a proper sit-down meal with lots of sidedishes and a big steaming bowl of rice - later that image morphed slightly to accomodate those happy days spent running home from school, watching the British masterchef and eating a big bowl of ramen noodles.

I've also picked up a lot of my parent's Asian eating habits. In Asia, eating chicken breast was pretty much illegal - it was the kind of thing you fed to criminals or dogs. When Chinese people moved to Australia and America the unknowing white people were a handy way to get rid of this most undesirable part of the chicken. That's why honey-soy wings are honey-soy wings - because if you told an Asian that it was honey-soy chicken breast fillets they'd immediately complain about the waste of precious soy sauce. Eating chicken breast is like eating cardboard - you simply don't do it, and you're beyond weird if you do. These days I only eat chicken breast if I'm absolutely starving or if it is (on a rare occaision) home cooked. This may take some explaining if you're not a working-class Australian - 'roast chicken' means that hot little foil baggie you buy from Coles, which sometimes has a half-decent cooked chook in it. This is quick and used to be cheap but the problem is that they're normally left in the warmer for ages and ages and ages and I don't now how they cook it but the wings are always charred to the point that they look quite artistic and the breast is like chewing on foam.

My mother rarely used a cookbook when I was younger, unless she was attempting something restaurant-standard or was trying to cook Western food. The standard utensil was the wok. I hated the wok. If mum was using a wok I couldn't go anywhere near the stove, not even to put a measly little tea-cup sized saucepan on to boil eggs. Measuring cups and all that stuff was reserved for baking - if I saw my mother carefully measuring out soy sauce I'd get extremely worried. This lead to it's own problems - my mother and I don't have the same idea when it comes to terms like 'just a splash' or 'just a bit' or, worse 'use your own judgement'.

Ice cream is also one of the very few foods I will consume cold - although if they found a physics-defying way to somehow keep ice scream intact but hot then I would prefer that, because my constant aversion to cold food has left my teeth suffering from permanent hyperthermia. I have very vivid memories of blogging my heart out and digging in to bowl after bowl of cookie-cream ice-cream. Ice cream is brilliant heart-glue for those hard-to-manage breaks. Unfortunately, it's murderous for your skin and your stomach and just about everything else.

I'm an avant-garde tea freakaholic. My dad is a tea addict too, but my parents only ever drink Earl Grey - a lot of it. I've been experimenting, and now I have Vanilla Chai, Irish Breakfast and Green tea, which tasted revolting so now I use it in the bathtub (see http://thesecretworldofladyrenegade.blogspot.com/2010/10/kids-and-reading-kids-and-writing-kids.html on that). I'm also that kid that will experiment with whatever I can get my hands on that is remotely edible - I mean, why can't blueberry cordial and milk tea mix? Because it curdles and you end up with brown milk curd at the bottom of purple water, that's why. Only someone like me would know that.

I bake a little in the holidays - but I always use way too much butter and I don't knead it enough so I always end up with boulders that I force upon my family. Still working on that :) Making bread takes ages and makes an enormous mess, but it's a lot of fun - and homemade bread, even bread like stone baked by a half-asleep schoolkid (to have buns ready for brunch you seriously have to start baking at like five) has so much more character then the loaves you buy in the supermarket that are destined for the freezer, then destined to be ill-matched with soggy ham and salad, and then destined to be eaten in the same manner one would eat artichokes and lima beans (unless you like artichokes and lima beans, in which case I guess that you're also an avid chicken-breast fan. You creepy zoophiliac.)

And so I don't understand people who don't eat, or people who force themselves to eat shit that they don't actually like - I mean, tastebuds are there for a reason. And food is all about unconditional love, you know...


Adelaide Dupont said...

I agree with you that sandwiches are probably not food in one sense of the term. (The Scanidavians would agree too: hence why any sandwich there is "open").

I can take or leave heat in food (soup needs to be hot), but I often prefer spices and additions.

Yes, food is one of the first "weirdnesses" which might mark us out! It might make you a very individual cook.

Probably the most interesting part of Food was your reference to chicken breasts and more largely the Chinese history.

(Our chicken is carcass. No, we don't shoot the chicken, but we don't get it out of bags either. The nearest to that sort of thing is probably charcoal chicken).

And I see the distinction between cooking and baking. Somebody (Sarah J Blake) said some people like baking because it's hard(er?) to improvise.

I too find ice cream somewhat murderous for my stomach. Probably the lactose!

One of the best uses for bread is probably for crumbed cutlets. And egg soldiers.

The Macquarie Cookbook has said, "Of all habits, eating is the one about which we are most conservative".

I do like other beans, but very rarely have I had an artichoke, and the latter would probably work well steamed.

There was at least one restaurant in my experience which does hot ice-cream. Or warm, anyway.

And honey-soy wings are delicious. Watch the marinade: but I don't think you need me to say that!

Blur Ting said...

I HATE chicken breast too! If I buy chicken rice at the stall and end up getting breast meat, i just feel like dumping the entire thing in the bin!

I love ice cream too. It's got to be one of my favourite treats!

Heh heh, I'm like your mom, the wok is my best friend :-)

Adelaide Dupont said...

While reading Food I was studying up about the chicken.

Some ten thousand years ago it came from Thailand, Vietnam and China. (Oh, yes, then shortly after that it spread through China).

And it was descended from a jungle fowl.

Just wanted to have a better view of the timeline involved.

Chicken rice has all sorts of flexibility involved.

And I had had little idea that Hainanese chicken rice was practically the Singaporean national meal. (Cucumber and garlic, here I come!)

And, yes, the age of the chicken is important.