Food, Malaysia, Writing

Lunchboxes and literature

I used my Aladdin bento box for the first time today! I’ve got the two-storey version, which comes with a top compartment for soups and a larger bottom compartment, into which you can slot a half moon-shaped container so you can keep your rice and cai separate. It claims to be able to keep your food warm for up to five hours (or cool if that is how you prefer it), which is convenient as we don’t have that many microwaves at work.

I put some edamame in the top compartment, along with a hardboiled egg, and filled up the bottom with kimchi fried rice, giving the rice a blitz in the microwave before I set off. It worked pretty well! The rice wasn’t quite hot, but it was warm, and edible enough. The things I will do differently tomorrow are:

  • cook the edamame in advance and chill them, because when you put them into the lunchbox immediately after cooking they get a bit soggy
  • put the spring onion for garnishing the rice in the edamame compartment and only add it to the rice just before eating, so it doesn’t get wilted by the heat
  • heat up the rice until it is EVEN HOTTER before packing it
  • put in less rice. Wah, very full after lunch today.
  • (perhaps include a piece of delicious banana bread Cephas has just made, by way of dessert)

I am going to buy myself a bento cookbook. :D Perhaps the Just Bento one? Do let me know if you’ve got any recommendations.

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You may enjoy these Notes on K. S. Maniam’s The New Diaspora in the New Village zine, discovered via hipsterbabas. (The original essay is here — I haven’t read it yet.) K. S. Maniam is a Malaysian Indian novelist and playwright, and the essay “explores the problems of internationalising community literatures, using the multicultural situation in Malaysia as a sort of model”.

I do not understand all of what Maniam is saying, and the notes seem scarcely shorter than the original essay itself lor. But what I have managed to grasp is interesting. I am doubtful about this idea of a new diaspora, an elite minority whose task is to make sense of the problems of multiculturalism and globalisation by somehow rising above its ethnic and cultural origins — but perhaps I misunderstand the argument. Anyway, it is comforting to see discussion of these issues one has been grappling with personally, feeling quite at sea.

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Today I hit 50,000 words on the novel! My aim was to hit that word count by the end of 2012, so I am a couple of days late, but eh. \o/! I really made this post just to say this, but got distracted by lunchboxes and literature.

The first draft is growing alarmingly fragmented; I am run away with some subplots and don’t know what to do with others — and I think I have written one scene at least twice. But these are things that can be fixed on the next go-round, right? We soldier on.

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Food, Zen's Vegetarian Life

Zen’s Vegetarian Life

I’ve just moved in with a (mostly) vegetarian who has lower standards for food than I do, which means a) I will be doing most of the cooking and b) I guess some of the cooking will have to be vegetarian???

So to explain where I’m coming from on this — you know how families have nicknames or roles for each of the members, like one kid is the baby and one kid is the responsible one, or maybe one kid is sporty and the other is academic, or one kid is the pretty one and one is the plain one? In my family, I am the meat eater. (We all eat meat. But I’m the meat eater.)

Still, as with the other familial roles I listed, it’s something you can outgrow, and I’d say I’m probably one of the most open-minded eaters in the family now — I profoundly enjoy meat when I do have it (which is … most of the time …). But I don’t insist on having it with every meal or anything like that, or feel like I haven’t had a real meal if there wasn’t any meat in it. (Note that I am subject to the influence of, respectively, a) a food culture that finds the concept of vegetarianism so challenging that it has produced restaurants whose metier is serving tofu made to look like fish and b) a food culture that puts tiny prawns in everything. EVERYTHING. See: colorblue‘s sad experience eating instant noodles at a medan selera where nothing didn’t have udang.)

I’m unlikely to become a vegetarian, since my partner is only mostly a vegetarian and doesn’t care if I make stuff for both of us and then add steak to my plate. But I am going to try and report back on my efforts! I foresee my initial forays will be heavy on mushrooms.

Food photos below the jump, hobviously.

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