Hello! Sorry for the lack of updates on this space for the past few months. It’s been a hectic few months for me, having gone on several overseas work trips and moving countries (again), so whatever free time I have I prefer to spend it away from the computer with my family. But despite the inactivity here, I’m still eating lots of good food and I’ve been on the receiving end of several lovely food gifts!
I finally met with Shan, who was back in Singapore on a break from her postdoctoral studies in Scotland. We were secondary school classmates and haven’t seen each other for the past decade, so I was quite excited to catch up with her and another ex-classmate RJ for coffee one Saturday afternoon. Shan gave both of us a bag of her three favourite tea leaves from teapigs as a souvenir (how thoughtful of her!) and shared with us her study life and culinary inspiration in betwen
frolicking among sheep and kilt-wearing men dashing in and out of her research lab. As for me, I went to meet her empty-handed…
Mr. P bought me Thai food and cooking by Judy Bastyra and Becky Johnson to add to my collection of books on his native cuisine (read: to cook more often for him). I have to admit that besides this blog, I’ve neglected cooking for the past couple of months due to work and sheer laziness. But now that we’ve moved back to Thailand again, I’m looking forward to spending more time in my little kitchen.
While overseas work trips are tiring, they also yield opportunities to sample local cuisines, and often times, unexpected food souvenirs. On my recent trip to Shanghai during a cool November, I interviewed a tourism official from Ningxia, an autonomous region in China with a large Muslim population. When the interview concluded, the honcho had his staff present to me a series of travel brochures as well as a bottle of wolfberries — then did I found out that Ningxia is also a major region in China where wolfberries are grown.
A work trip to Shanxi, in northern China, earlier this year introduced me to Shanxi mature vinegar (山西老陈醋; shanxi laochen cu). At parting, the local tour company gave each participant a set of local food souvenirs, including Shanxi mature vinegar. Being vinegar gals, my mum and I love to “eat vinegar” (which in Chinese means we are the easily jealous types), often adding drops onto our food to enhance flavours. Shanxi mature vinegar is full-bodied yet mild at the same time, and it doesn’t leave a strong aftertaste in the mouth. Even Mr. P, who wasn’t acquainted with the vinegar culture until recently, said that this particular brand of fermented liquid tasted better than all others he had tried. After all, Shanxi is the cradle of vinegar making in China!
Well, I’ve been very lucky to be on the receiving end of food gifts, but I do get the inspiration to create gifts from time to time. Our dear friend YC is a foodie and not a typical handbag girl, plus we needed something light — we had to mail it to her in Perth — and hopefully useful. Inspiration struck when we saw blank canvas bags on sale in a Muji store one day. We would create a personalised recipe bag for YC’s birthday! Mr. P sketched a plate of seafood salad and filled in the colours, while I wrote the recipe on the remaining space. We were quite proud of our “creation” but were even happier when YC told us she liked our gift. 🙂