For You, Daddy!

Friday, 1 August 2014





I wrote the following mail to my contacts this past weekend.



‘Sup peeps!



So. Didja enjoy your Sunday Special breakfast/lunch/dinner today? So did I! But. Not everyone is as blessed as you and I are, you know?



It’s no secret that I live to eat. So I’m going to get right to it. Earlier today, when doing my nigh daily bread thang at one of my fave sites, Upworthy, I watched this vid:

And being the nosy person that I am, I then went to their site and read this:
But I can’t do nuffink because there’s a hitch. I don’t have an alter ego a social networking account. Yeah, still. I’m still JOMO*-ing my life under a rock. Now pick your jaws off the floor and focus, people. This ain’t about me and my persistent pitiful non-existence. So yeah. I don’t do e-socialising, but you do.
Now. If you have the time and inclination, please watch the vid and/or read the site. And if you like what you see and read, and you still have the time and inclination, go ahead and ka-pow! your next meal, heck, all your meals with a #mealforameal and bam! them onto your InstagramFacebookTwitter or wherever you kids hang out these days.
Now y’all are clever and all, and y’all have got to the bottom of this mail. You know that this mail:
1. Has nothing to do with my obsession with food, but everything to do with my obsession with Richard Branson’s locks.  
2. Has nothing to do with my volunteer stint at the Daily Bread Food Bank in Mississauga (Canada), but everything to do with how shocked I was to see how many ‘normal’ looking people were our clients; and how they all told me that they regularly endured periods of *gulp* starvation. I can’t even imagine that. 😦  
3. Is proof that I’m still a raging slacktivist.
4. Is my poor excuse for a newsletter.
Never mind me. Please share those links above with your friends. Oh, if you do it via e-mail, you’ll be a sweetie and merely copy the links instead of Forwarding this entire message of mine, si? And you’ll BCC instead of CCing your contacts, too, right? Aww, you’re smarty pants, darling.
So. Let’s all channel our inner Marie Antoinette, tag our piccies and “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche.”, I mean, “Let them eat cake.” Bon apetit to the fact that we can make someone live those words.
Thank you very much for helping me help complete strangers vicariously, me lovelies.








I give Thee thanks, Almighty God.

Spicy Breadfruit

Chorizo Stir Fry with Boiled Potato ‘n Boiled Egg

Brown Bread

Hershey’s Chocolate (On the table at 12 o’clock)  




This is exactly what my plate looked liked before I tucked in last night. When I looked at this shot up on my PC, I realised it is a very good representation of me.



The corners of the slices of bread cut off

The slices themselves not arranged so that both slices are visible

The traces of gravy around the edges

The mismatched egg halves


The rather sloppy placement of everything.



This is who I am as a person; imperfect, but substantive (rather, I’d like to think of myself as substantive), unconcerned about slapping on the glitter to gloss over the grime beneath.



Similarly, so why should I treat my routine dinner plate any differently just because it could be viewed by people I don’t know?



WYSIWYG with me.



Oh, if you noticed the grease congealed in the Chorizo Stir Fry, brownie points for your eagle eyes! The art/photography flop that I am, I didn’t think of nuking my dinner before I snapped it. 









Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Cuts Like A Knife

Are you thinking of this? 

F~R~R~R~R~E~E~Z~I~N~G! (As in, ‘The Hot and Cold’ game.)
This post has nothing to do with him. Or even music.
So why is the title of one of his albums (and one of his songs as well) the title of this post?
Swooning done. Time to chop-chop ahead with this post.
Partoku knife.
“Par-what-ku knife?”, I hear you say? Okay, not you; I heard myself blurt that (out loud, too) when, about two weeks ago, I read a review of a set of knives on The Ranting Chef’s blog:  
Food…cooking…eating….tools – What works, and what doesn’t!
This post, to be precise.
Like a whole lotta things I’ve never heard of before, I hadn’t heard of Partoku knives. So off to Google I trotted, and the next nearly half-hour galloped away as I whizzed through a handful of stories of how some knives are born.
I went back to The Ranting Chef’s blog to thank him for introducing me to that fascinating slice in the world of knives. There, as is my usual habit, I read through all the earlier comments. In the last comment, the commenter posed a question about the knives. I knew that answer immediately. And all the pages I was reading about Partoku knives were still up on my screen.
Now instead of being like that annoying kid in class whose hand pops up to answer every question the teacher asks, I became like the even more annoying kid and …. blurted out the answer …. with the URL as well! Proof of my annoying behaviour in the comments section of that post.
To put it in context: I answered a question, about a part of the post, put forth by a commenter, to the owner of the blog.  
That is not proper (n)etiquette. I know that. Daddy and Mummy taught me so. I learned well, too.
So why that fit of misbehaviour? Because I knew I could.
I knew I could answer that question and not worry about getting my wrist rapped.
And I knew I could write this post without giving him a heads-up or seeking permission to mention his blog
I know The Ranting Chef’s a cool dude.
Nope! Just like you; yes, you reading right now, I do not know The Ranting Chef at all. I RSSed his blog nearly a year ago. (I think.) From his posts, I figured he’s a cool dude. Am I clever or wot?! Actually not.
“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.” ~ Lao Tzu
Ever since I began reading The Ranting Chef’s blog, his words have been consistently cool dude-esque. Therefore, I’m pretty certain his character is cool dude-esque, too.
To me, a cool dude is, among other things, a dude* who is down-to-earth, loves his family, never says anything mean about/to anyone, and is kind.
I find that that’s The Ranting Chef, through and through, and I find his posts wholesome. The ‘Ranting’ part of his name is a misnomer, really.
*Incidentally, I think of a dude as a person; not someone of a specific gender. After all, Dawg calls me ‘Dude’.  For his own reasons which are completely different from mine.
The importance of kindness is not often emphasised once we leave the cocoons of our high schools and our neighbourhoods.
George Saunders (New York Times bestselling American writer. Born 1958.) does this in a commencement speech earlier this year.

Wait, there’s more!
The Ranting Chef is so da cool dude, he even thanked me for being that even more annoying kid who pipsqueak-ed the answer to the question before he could!  
To me, someone like that, is non-egotistic and generous in spirit.
And peeps, do I dig such peeps?!     
So this is the reason, I chose to write about The Ranting Chef this month.
Oh, and another reason.
Okay, you know how I’m clever all the time, right? (All together now: “Yes, Kate.”)
But do you also know I can be brilliant a lot of times, too? (Once again, all together: “Totally, Kate.”) 
Well, this is one of those classic times I’ve been so clever and so brilliant that, only 10 days ago, did I realise that I should have told you about Diced! a long time ago. 😦
The Ranting Chef has something called a Diced! competition on his blog and it’s open to everyone.
Essentially, you pick a recipe, cook it, take piccies of the process and the final product, weave it all into a lovely story and submit to participate in the competition. Oh, there are rules an’ all. But those are simple and creatively challenging. That’s why I like … reading the submissions!
(Since I moved back to be with Mum, I have the luxury of help once again. So I let them do their thang because I enjoy cuisine from my childhood days. And I like being fussed over. 🙂 )
The Ranting Chef‘s blog is in the middle of one such Diced! event, so you can’t participate at this juncture. Worry not though. You could join his legion of seven-thousand-and-who’s-counting? followers to tune in for future competitions.
Or you could be like me, and visit The Ranting Chef’s blog to enjoy learning much more about food-as-sustenance-alone. 🙂
::   ::  ::   ::   ::  ::  :: ::     WELCOME BACK, MJ!  ::  ::  ::  ::  ::   ::   ::   ::   ::
One of my favourite bloggers is back! After months and months and months of silence!  
I know this isn’t, and hasn’t been for a while, the easiest of times for you and your family, MJ. Warm thoughts and prayers from afar.
I’ve truly missed your good-natured banter, tales with a moral and clean humour. You never budged from my RSS list. 🙂
mj monaghan
A steeping cup of infotainment.

Thank you, Misslisted, You’ve Been Hooked!  and FLOWERSBLOOMS by “Elvie”, for commenting on my last post.


Thank you, Misslisted, You’ve Been Hooked! and FLOWERSBLOOMS by “Elvie”, for liking my last post.




P.S.: Cheerful Monk adds a footnote to every post acknowledging those who comment on her previous post. She also links the commenters’ names back to their own blogs.


I like both these practices of acknowledging the time and effort made to comment, and the free advertising! So I’m doing what I do well – being a copycat!  


Monday, 1 April 2013

I Eat, Therefore, I Am.



A big mouth. No, seriously. I have a big mouth. All the better to eat with and all that. Okay, I mean, I am a big mouth. Like, a really LOUD mouth. 



When I find something that has helped me in some way, I open my mouth nice and wide, and yeah, often put my foot right into it, but I also love to blab about what I’ve “discovered”.



And that’s what I’m going to do in this post. I’m going to blather about fodder.



Now there are reams of scientific evidence connecting good nutrition and a healthy body. Over the years, I have read many such articles and about 15 years ago, I began to adopt certain practices. I think they work.



I am healthy i.e. I do not have any known medical ailment to date. I go for an annual medical check-up and all tests have consistently been normal. Why I find that abnormal is, because every single classmate of mine, from my school years who I have kept in touch with over the years to date, has been diagnosed with some health related blip. Some are on medication, some have undergone surgery for gall stones and kidney stones, and one has even undergone a coronary bypass. His blockages were attributed to an unhealthy lifestyle.



So I really do believe that some of my “madness” (as my dietary adjustments have frequently been called) works to some degree. I have shared my diet schedule with people I know. I now feel comfortable enough to cast a wider net.



That Disclaimer Thing:

I don’t know how to do this in a way that will save my behind from being sued by anyone, but I’ll try.



1. Please consult your doctor before you decide to adopt anything I write about here.



2. Please read up as many sites and delve into as many sources as you deem necessary to be comfortable with the things I do before you decide to adopt anything I write about here.



3. None of this is scientifically tested or proven by me. It is all based on how I feel and how my body feels.



Another VERY important point about my ‘diet schedule’, if you will, of today is, that I began making tiny changes, one at a time, over a decade and half ago.



I had repeatedly read certain things in a variety of magazines (this was pre-Windows era), thought they made sense, and decided to give them a go. Having noticed a positive difference almost every time, I was buoyed by the success and adopted that new habit. When that practice fitted fluidly into my routine, I was spurred to try something else new. Nearly two decades later, and I have settled for the schedule I will chalk out below.  



ACHTUNG! When I talk about my diet schedule to someone for the first time, this is the most common response I get.







I normally get out of bed at 6 a.m. and crash at 10 p.m. I down something almost soon after I wake up and my dinner (the last meal/snack of the day) is at 8 p.m.





6 a.m.: One tbsp Honey  +  one tbsp Coconut/Apple Cider Vinegar with 250 ml warm water


6.30 a.m. to 8 a.m.: One and a half litre Green Tea  


8 a.m.: Porridge made with:  

400 ml Milk +  2 tbsp Oats  +   1 heaped tsp ground   Flax Seeds  +  1 heaped tsp ground Millets  1 tsp grated Jaggery  +  1 tbsp rehydrated (dark) Raisins  +  1 Date  +  2 threads Saffron  


2 sliced Bananas added to the above when cooked.


10 a.m. to 11 a.m.: 500 ml Green Tea 


11.30 a.m.: Fruit  or  Raw vegetable  or  Sprouts


12.30 p.m.: LUNCH


Main Course:

Brown Rice/Quinoa/Couscous/Wild Rice with an equal amount of Lentils/Beans

cooked with

A pinch of Turmeric  +  2 peels of dried Kokum  or  ½ tsp Tamarind paste  +  1 Red/Green Chillie


A Fish based dish with a thick-ish gravy/sauce


Cooked Vegetable


Entire plate topped with:

1 level tsp mix of minced Ginger, Garlic, Onion and Corriander Leaves



Two squares of Chocolate  or  a slice of Cake  or  a wedge of Pie  or  a small bowl of Pudding


3 p.m.: 300 ml Green Tea


4 p.m.: Processed snack: Crisps (Chips)  or  Biscuits (Cookies)  or  Savoury/Not-too-sweet Bites (Munchies)  


6 p.m.: 300 ml Green Tea

7 p.m.: 250 ml Yoghurt  +  Fruit  +  1 Walnut  +  2 Almonds  +  3 Cashews/Pistachios/Pine Nuts  


8.30 p.m.: DINNER


Main Course:

Beef/Chicken/Lamb/Pork cooked with a Leafy Vegetable and Soya Nuggets


Cooked Vegetable


Multi-grain Brown Bread  or  Whole Wheat Pita Bread  


Entire plate topped with:

1 level tsp mix of minced Ginger, Garlic, Onion and Corriander Leaves



Two squares of Chocolate  or  a slice of Cake  or  a wedge of Pie  or  a small bowl of Pudding 




And voila! Non-achy, non-breaky heart and the rest of me. 



There are many one-time variations, of course. For example, I will buy a carton of soy milk or rice milk on occasion and have that instead of yoghurt. Then, there’s my Sunday Breakfast that I mentioned in my previous post, ‘I Live To Eat, Too.



All the little oddities, like:

Saffron and millets in the porridge

Beans, turmeric and chillie in the rice


Leafy vegetables with the meats

are to add a little nutritional heft to the dishes since each of those ingredients are supposedly good for us, and I cannot prepare more dishes nor eat any more often than I already do to make sure I eat a little of those items on a regular basis.



What I like about myself where my eating is concerned is that I love my healthy choices as much as I do the junk. I also like that I’m not hung up on healthy food nor do I vilify unhealthy food.



Also, very important:

I do not inflict impose these culinary quirks on any of my visitors


I leave this schedule at home when I leave my house*.

So I get to indulge all senses when I abandon all sensibilities at spreads away home. Big whoop!

*Except when I go to work every day.



I have always had a ravenous appetite, so the frequent munching comes easily to me. (Thank you, freakishly high BMR!) What I have consciously changed is the poisonous high-sugar, high-fat fare I gorged on after I left home at 19 (no parental supervision, yaay!) until my mid twenties. That kind of food kept me satiated for longer periods, but when I grew older, I realised that although I could not see the flubber build up on the outside, I was most definitely lining my blood vessels and damaging other organs on the inside with my unhealthy choices.



There are a couple of  restrictions and preferences that I have with the source of my food. As I thought about that list, I realised it would fit better in a post of its own. I will share that with you all in a few months. I’ve got month related posts scheduled next.



Eating the way I do today, even though it was one teeny tiny change at a time, was not easy at all for me at first. Almost every ‘new experiment’ felt awful at the time (s~h~u~d~d~e~r) and tasted even worse (big, fat YUCK).



But years on, I am enjoying the results of my hard-at-first choices.




This was taken yesterday i.e. Easter Sunday.


This is in my (side) yard.

I was heading to the backyard when I got the whiff of our Easter lunch lamb ribs being grilled.


These are my ‘Yaay for yum!’, happy-left-feet moves that I was busting,

while unbeknownst to me, Big Bro busted my b#tt! 



When he guffawed over the exposé with the family later,

I realised this picture would be appropriate here because:



1. My halter top is from my high school days. 

2. My boots are from my college days.

3. My shorts are, um, new(er). Like, 12 years old only.


I have no doubt my diet plays a significant role in letting me gleefully get stuck in my sartorial past.




I wish the same kind of energy, health-problem-free confidence and zest of life for everyone.



Give healthy food choices a shot, e-Friends.



And while we’re at it, let’s try and keep our Mother Earth in the pink, too.




 Happy Earth Day!


This image is from
22 April is Earth Day.


Thank you, Matty Byloos, for permitting me the use of your image. 



Matty Byloos (

is a former-teacher-current-writer/painter.



As you, my regular readers, know, I’m no good at art. And I make no bones about that fact either.

But as you, my regular readers again, also know, I’ve got a green beating heart. And a big mouth! 🙂  



Nature lovin’ hippies like me, and what the heck, not-tree-huggers-yet, too,  (I don’t discriminate!),

check out Matty Byloos’ other passion – the environment.



For news in general about how our choices affect the environment


specific tips that we can use to reduce our carbon footprint, head over to Matty Byloos’s website:







::   ::  ::   ::   ::  ::  :: ::     THE  SEVENTH  SENSE   ::  ::  ::  ::  ::   ::   ::   ::   ::


Sandy Nana’s Fudge Cookies! Sorry, Friendskies, I’m not done talking about food. Or going back in time.


Oh, Sandy Nana was Mum’s mum. She passed away nearly 20 years ago. But I still remember her.


Sandy Nana wasn’t a terribly accomplished cook, but when I was little, I loved the Fudge Cookies she baked. I actually cannot remember the exact taste of those cookies, but I remember what I felt like around her, especially when she made up stories and made those cookies.


Which is why I got stupidly giddy today when I keyed in ‘Sandy Nana’s Fudge Cookies’ and Google NoseBETA whisked me back in time!


Google who? Google Nose BETA, people!


‘Tis this newest, whizz-est offering from the mighty search engine. You know how you can search for text/data, images and all? Well, now you can search for …. smells! I KNOW!


Go, watch the vid first, follow the instructions and and check it out! Make that – sniff ‘em out!


You can find the following link below the Search box on Google’s Home Page. (


Google Nose BETA


Oh, a confession tip. Actually, I didn’t look for Sandy Nana’s Fudge Cookies, I just typed ‘Fudge Cookies’. Duh.


And fell on my face.


Go forth and enjoy the same fate. What kind of friend would I be if I didn’t wish the same for you, e-Amigos?




Thank you, FLOWERSBLOOMS by “Elvie” and You’ve Been Hooked!, for commenting on my last post.


Thank you, Rantings of an Amateur Chef, Kathryn Darvill, FLOWERSBLOOMS by “Elvie” and  You’ve Been Hooked!, for liking my last post.


P.S.: Cheerful Monk adds a footnote to every post acknowledging those who comment on her previous post. She also links the commenters’ names back to their own blogs.

 I like both these practices of acknowledging the time and effort made to comment, and the free advertising! So I’m doing what I do well – being a copycat! 





Friday, 1 March 2013

I Live To Eat, Too.



And that’s an open secret with me because I believe that:





Thank you, Jessica, for permitting me the use of this image on behalf of your company.


There is some exciting bit of information at the end from Jessica’s company, 

‘Vinyl Walls Decals’  (




In this post, I will not share the obvious i.e. how much I love feeding my face eating, but how I ‘use’ food.



Food comforts; that’s a known fact. First, I will let an excerpt elaborate on how that fact plays out in my life.



This excerpt is between a friend, who I shall refer to as Friend, and myself. Friend’s words are in blue; mine, as always, in brown.



Friend: I try my best to cope with my problems, but some days, Kate, I feel like nothing works. So I work on keeping myself busy with stuff.



Me: This can be a good thing, Friend, but please make sure that your distractions are not related to work and chores alone. Indulge in activities that make you feel good. For me, it’s something as simple as my (childhood) ‘Sunday breakfast’ which, since my return to the nest, I do not have on Sundays anymore because I am happy to be home again after years of living like a nomad. But when I need a pick-me-up or even just to get a hit of feel-good feelings for the heck of it, I go for that familiar Sunday breakfast.



I take an egg out of the fridge the previous night. As I down my one litre of green tea (over a period of an hour) before brekkie, I anticipate digging into the finished product. The excitement builds as I begin making the breakfast itself.



I fry an egg, sunny side up, I slather one slice of brown bread with butter, turn the egg over on the unbuttered slice, spread the yolk all over, sprinkle pepper and grated cheese, and if I have some at home, I cover the entire slice with deli meat.



I’ve never liked to chomp into the whole sammy because I don’t like food getting smeared around my mouth. I feel uncouth uncomfortable, too, trying to grab the whole thing with both hands. So I cut up the sandwich into 2-bite, bite sized pieces, pull up a chair to face one of the open windows in my dining room, look out into the garden and HALLELUJAH! The winged ones go all Broadway on me. For realsies, Friend! 🙂



Then it’s onto the coffee preparation.  





This image comes very close to what my own cuppa Joe looks like

– colourful cup and non-pro looking, finished product.




I love coffee, but I drink it only when I’m extra happy or if I want to make myself happy. This process, too, is anticipated and salivated over.



The coffee I drink today is way better than what Isabella fooled me with when I was little. I still like it all-milk-no-water, strong and sweet, just the way Isabella lovingly made it for me, but in my early 20s, I discovered the magic of Bailey’s or Amarula with coffee. 🙂 Being a teetotaler, I detest the stench smell of alcohol, but I absolutely love how alcohol transforms certain culinary preparations. Over the years, I have gradually learned to, um, inspirit dishes from hors d‘oeuvres  to desserts, and of course, coffee. 🙂 



With both these, the sandwich and the coffee of my Sunday breakfast, every step is even more exaggerated than the way I normally eat. I am s~l~o~w, deliberate and then, I savour the sun kissed, ripened fruits of my patience.



My Sunday breakfast leaves me happy for a whole hour at least.



I’ve also noticed that when the high subsides, I don’t crash with a thud, but I am more mellow for the rest of the day, or that breakfast happiness sets off a chain of mini happy things for me.



What also makes me happy is reading or watching something funny. And another sure winner is music and dancing. I just turn it up and dance like no one is watching. Well, no one can watch me because I lock myself up in my room, blast the music and Harlem Shake off the blues. Half an hour is all I need.



Because I enjoy eating as much as I do, Lent is a particularly good time to test my willpower. Last year, I shared my food related Lenten experience in ‘Giving Up. And Taking On.’  We’re three weeks into Lent this year. How am I doing?



This excerpt between BFF One and myself will tell you. A little background first.



Growing up, BFF One and I lived two homes away from each other, and were nigh inseparable from primary school till we both left home for uni in different states. Today, she lives 15km away from my home. We meet every two weeks, speak over the phone every week and e-mail almost every day.



BFF One knows I’m greedy a foodie. So she regularly brings me some of my favourite food stuff whenever they eat it at her home. Last week, she came over with goodies as usual and … read the rest.



Me: Barbecued chicken. Sigh. Chocolate Mud. Sigh. Cheesecake. Sigh. Saving any of these items for after Easter would defeat the purpose of not eating them now.



Still, there’s your veggie stuff for me to enjoy. So yes, God still loves me 😉 despite all those things I won’t touch until the end of March.



BFF One: Ohnoohnoohno! Sorrrrrry, Katieeeee! I clean forgot your Lenten promise. Sooooo sorrrrry. I won’t tempt you again until Easter. I won’t bring any of your favourites until then. Sorry, Kate. 



Me: Oi, please BRING everything! I mean, whatever you want. Mum and Isabella enjoy these, too, you know?



My view of the purpose of abstinence in Lent, like Yom Kippur, Ramadan and Shravan or any spiritual fasting, is that it is to:



i. Avoid being dependent on the material world

ii. Acknowledge that the material benefits I have are blessings from God

iii. When not distracted by material factors, focus on God (through prayer and my deeds)   



So your yum temptations were good; they were my test. And I passed! Yaay!


I sniffed the Chocolate Mud (from [Name of confectioner in our city] in all likelihood; they use good quality chocolate and pure butter), sniffed the chicken (that familiar, great blend of your herbs), and of course, Cheesecake doesn’t have to do anything, I love it unconditionally. Ha ha!



When I sniffed each of those things and let my senses get washed over with the aroma, I did not feel the slightest desire to eat any of those. YESSSS! Victory.



In fact, like I always do, when I spread out everything to assess the bounty you bestow before I out everything away, I usually run to Mum wherever she is and gleefully announce her favourites or mine when I identify each item.





After you left the day before yesterday, as I divided my favourites between Mum and Isabella, I said to Mum, “God wants to test me? I’ll show Him.” And we both laughed. 




And because I enjoy eating as much as I do, I am intolerably intolerant toward those who don’t. 



The following excerpt between Bestie Boy and myself is a good example of how bad I can get.  



As always, Bestie Boy’s text is in green and mine in brown. This exchange was on this past Christmas morning.



Bestie Boy: Until we Skype later this evening, I hope, actually, I know you are having a suitably festive time and are enjoying all the best things Christmas brings – FOOD! 



Me: Yesss! Lots of this stuff, too.



Since Big Sis is to leave after Christmas lunch today (*WAAAIL*), you know I had ordered some of our Christmas goodies and non-Christmas yummies, every day from the day she landed i.e. the 18th. I hadn’t said a word to her about any of the things, and she got surprised every day. I wanted to make sure she pigged ate as much as she could before she left.



This is the booty of her first and second days.   




I’m grateful … and greedy for all this grub. 🙂



1. Pasteis de Santa Clara: Turnovers with almond paste filling, deep fried, and dusted with icing sugar.


2. Sozzled Trismas 😉 Cake


3. Chocolate Mmmousse


4. Brownies: I requested the confectioner not to cut the brownies into squares to prevent them from drying out.


5. Mint Chocolate Cake: Called ‘After Eight Cake’ in my family.


6. Bolo Caramel: You can’t quite see how tall this cake is, Bestie Boy. I measured it just now. It’s 14 cm high. 4 layers of caramel cake soaked with caramel (liquid) and cashews.




Oh, Mum used to order all these and other Christmas sweets every time I came home, no matter the time of the year. As you can see, too, not all the items here are Christmas specific. That’s because these are specifically Big Sis’ favourites. To borrow your words – I am not bothered either way. That’s because I eat everything. Unlike you. *grumble, grumble* Thank goodness Big Sis does not give me trouble with food like you do. Bad Bestie Boy.  




I’m wiff me big sister in the lil’ skirt!


I’m also stiff as the sign post behind me. Why?

We were on holiday three months ago


a handful (uh huh, that’s all it takes for this wuss) of locals

happened to cast

a few curious glances in our direction. Duh.




Bestie Boy: We’re having chicken for Christmas lunch because [his relative visiting from overseas] is not so fond of turkey – I am not bothered either way. 



Me: Arrgh, Bestie Boy! Your apathy towards food is long past surprising, confusing and shocking. I now get frustrated, maybe annoyed even. 



How, I mean, like, HOW can you not enjoy a particular type of food or preparation? Or the anticipation of your taste buds being tantalised, the pleasure while savouring every mouthful and the satisfaction upon satiation? Foodgasm isn’t an accidental portmanteau, you know?



Alright, alright! I know that you know that not very many people I know live to eat like I do. But it’s so much easier to snarl and underscore instead of smile and understand differences between myself and others. 🙂 



Food may not be Bestie Boy’s beast, but footie is!




A warm-up is as good a time as any to mess around.







I know

that living well

is also


being gracious and accepting

of the differences between people,




like to think

I have

a modicum of sense


my sometimes grouchy being,



make peace


people I know



drool over food

(or other things)

the way I do.





::   ::  ::   ::   ::  ::  :: ::     BLOG BUDDY BIRTHDAY  ::  ::  ::  ::  ::   ::   ::   ::   ::


Hi my blogging friend, Elvie Rose in the Philippines!


Someone has a little message for you!


This image is from


You were expecting him to say something else? Well, he’s doing it on my behalf, and there’s no way I can fool this clever canine. He sees right through me and speaks my mind!


But I do have another message for you – have a lovely day today, Elvie Rose! May you continue to spread your fragrance via your words in person to those privileged to know someone as kind as you, and via your words on your own blog ‘FLOWERSBLOOMS by “Elvie”’ ( ….  and here via your comments!


Happy birthday, Elvie Rose!


Thank you, Lady Fi in Sweden, for letting me share your doggone cute pooch!


Readers, I’m not good with photographs, but some of you are.

So check out Lady Fi’s blog,

Lady Fi,

for what I think are very cool (quite literally!) pictures.



::   ::  ::   ::   ::  ::  ::  ::  ::     BLOG BIRTHDAY  ::  ::  ::  ::  ::  ::   ::   ::   ::   ::


Yup, you read that right. A blog birthday.


A not-so-wee blog turned one last month.


‘Rantings of an Amateur Chef ‘

Food…cooking…eating….tools – What works, and what doesn’t!


Having eased off the Publish pedal here, I finally found the time to RSS your blog, Ranting Chef. Am enjoying what little I’ve experienced so far.


I like the little anecdotes that accompany the recipes and I like that the recipes come from non-professional (therefore, more doable in my eyes) cooks, but most of all, I like how you are generous and welcome your readers to post their recipes. It ain’t easy letting go of the spotlight.


Keep up the good work, Ranting Chef!


Oh, and Happy Belated Birthday, Ranting Chef Blog! 🙂



::  ::   ::   ::  ::  ::  ::  ::     KARMA CONNECTION   ::  ::  ::  ::  ::  ::   ::   ::   ::


Vinyl Walls Decals’ (

is a family operated company

based in Reno, Nevada, U.S.A.


When I contacted them to ask if I could use their image, which is at the very top of this post, they (Hi Jessica!) readily  agreed …. and threw in an offer for you, dear readers!  


When you go to their site


you see something you fancy


you decide to buy something from them


you use Code “FYD

(as in ‘For You, Daddy!’),

you will get

25% off all orders until 31 March 2013!

Wa-hay or wot?


Besides purty piccies and cutesy quotes for a variety of events and various rooms in our homes, they have some options in Spanish and Norwegian as well.  


So. What’s my cut for doing this for ‘Vinyl Walls Decals’ (


Bragging rights!


Dude, there’s nothing that lifts me higher than doing someone a good turn gratis


being able to blast my own bugle over it.


Oh, except building a bulge in my belly! 🙂


Oh! Oh! Oh! And with this whole doing-my-good-deed-for-the-day, um, thing … which is not really a thing, I smell fodder for a future post. Yaay!





Thank you, ROHAN7THINGS, for signing up to follow my posts. 


Thank you, You’ve Been Hooked! and FLOWERSBLOOMS by “Elvie”  for commenting on my last post.


Thank you, You’ve Been Hooked!, Șic și clasic – “Chic & Classic” and FLOWERSBLOOMS by “Elvie”, for liking my last post.


Thank you, A Clown On Fire  and Coffee, Camera & Kids – My Crazy Life, for liking my ‘About My Blog’ page.


Thank you, Moolta, for liking my post of 15 December 2012 titled ‘You’.   



P.S.: Cheerful Monk adds a footnote to every post acknowledging those who comment on her previous post. She also links the commenters’ names back to their own blogs.

 I like both these practices of acknowledging the time and effort made to comment, and the free advertising! So I’m doing what I do well – being a copycat!  


Saturday, 1 December 2012

Challenge: Below The (Water) Line

Filed under: Bestie Boy,Environmentally Friendly,Food,Personal Beliefs — by For you, Daddy! @ 4:30 am
Tags: , , ,



Two posts earlier, I began a series on the two challenges I set myself up for this year. This post is about the second challenge.



To read about the first challenge, please read:



Challenge:  Below The (Poverty) Line, Part 1 of 2




Challenge:  Below The (Poverty) Line, Part 2 of 2




This second challenge was close on the heels of the first one. Let’s head back to the excerpts of the conversation between Bestie Boy and myself.



Once again, Bestie Boy’s text in green and mine in brown.





Bestie Boy: I, too, read a blog by a guy who also leaned more on the pragmatic side of the story*. But it was entertaining reading nonetheless.



*About that blogger’s experience with the ‘Below The Line‘ ( challenge.



Me:  There’s nothing entertaining about the pragmatic side of things for me. And pragmatic is what it all boils down to eventually.



As I said above, knowing something and doing it are different. The latter is a lot harder, of course. Slacktivism is all the rage. Signing petitions, participating in rallies, awareness and fundraising events, donating cash or material kind; all these are wonderful and necessary, but to me, these are the easy ways out. More importantly, I do not think these practices alone are sufficient to reduce the damage in the first place, or reverse it.  



The only way to ascertain we meet these goals (reduce and reverse) is to roll up our sleeves and get dirty. An unexpected bonus? The feeling of satisfaction knowing that we are trying to make the all important difference. As with most things in my life, I prefer to be on the vaccination side than the Band-Aid side. Meaning, I prefer being proactive rather than reactive; prevent more than cure.  



I do not like the pragmatic side of the practices to help causes I believe in. Deprivation, in whatever form or to whatever degree, is not fun. So much so, I get quite annoyed with myself when I learn new little ways to do something to further a cause that’s important to me because eventually, it’s always about sacrificing. 😦



My latest ‘gig’ for example. The monsoons are upon us. Years ago, there used to be a fishing ban from early June to the end of August. This was not only because the waters were too rough for the traditional canoe-style fishing boats to venture into the deep sea, but also to allow marine life to breed normally.



Over the past decade, that has changed. From 3 months, the fishing ban was reduced to a shocking one month. The reason? Greed. Technology helped; with mechanised fishing trawlers that made it relatively safer for vessels to brave the raging monsoon waters.  





The green peeps here in my state fought and managed to get the ban extended for an extra 15 days last year. Only to have that decision overturned and trashed this year. And then, I just had to go and read an article, and discover what one of the pro-longer-ban guys, a scientist, said. I’ll summarise his rant concern below in blue.



Earlier generations did not eat fresh fish during those 3 monsoon months i.e. June, July and August. They survived on a variety of salted fish preparations. (Our family did, too, even until I left home for uni.)



Today, outside the banned period of one month, we eat freshly caught fish.

During the banned period of a mere month, we eat fish that has been caught earlier and frozen.



Both varieties come at an enormous cost to the environment. Eating fresh fish before and after the reduced ban does not allow marine life to breed normally and this results in the stock of fish not being replenished for the following season.  



Bottom line: An unsustainable practice.



As soon as I read that, what do I go and do?



What I did as a child.



No fresh fish for three months i.e. June to August. Arrgh!  




Thank you, Bill Hitchcock, for permitting me to share this image from your site,



Mum still has her quota of fish at lunch time and I don’t grudge her that at all. She’s 81; she’s, ahem, excused.



For her 81st three months ago, I had ’81 Is Fun’ inscribed on her cake.
Mother certainly lives it up!



I hate learning all these joy-of-life sucking tips, Bestie Boy. I hate that my conscience doesn’t permit me to not practise what I know (will help the causes that are dear to me).



Oh, but I LOVE bragging about these deprivation gigs.



I’m in the throes of a bragging episode right now. 🙂



Bestie Boy: Oh no! Wa-hay, here we go again! No fish for three months, huh? That’s a pret-ty big fish you’re chasing, Kate. You love fish, and you love pork, and yeah, yeah, you love basically all food, you grub hawk. Still, no fish for a flupping three months? How are you not going to be a fish out of water? Oi, no cheating with the frozen and tinned varieties, ya hear? No fishy business at all.



Me: I’m gonna try, Bestie Boy. This is going to be very hard for me. 😦



Bestie Boy: Meh. You’re going to nail this tail, K-Wizzle. I know it. Now go fish. I mean, don’t. *fist bump with pride*



And oh, the next time we go swimming and you see bubbles ascending from the depths, don’t yell at me in disgust, you mad piece of fool. It’ll be the ocean gurgling her gratitude.  



He’s BACK at it!



Bestie Boy just cannot resist a body of water. Despite the warning sign board, he flung off his shirt and cargo shorts and “attempted suicide”. (It’s what I ranted about after he had had his fun.)



Fortunately, he left his trekking sandals on. Oh, his Sponge Bob kecks, too. One can never tell with my dude bud.



And that uncertainty of Bestie Boy’s shenanigans is the biggest challenge of all for poor ol’ me. 😉



Thank you, You’ve Been Hooked!, for commenting on my last post.

Thank you, Bucket List Publications and You’ve Been Hooked! for liking my last post.


P.S.: Cheerful Monk adds a footnote to every post acknowledging those who comment on her previous post. She also links the commenters’ names back to their own blogs.

 I like both these practices of acknowledging the time and effort made to comment, and the free advertising! So I’m doing what I do well – being a copycat! 




Thursday, 15 November 2012

Challenge: Below The (Poverty) Line, Part 2 of 2

Filed under: Bestie Boy,Food,Personal Beliefs — by For you, Daddy! @ 4:30 am
Tags: , , , ,




Last week, I began a series on the two challenges I set myself up for this year. This is the second and concluding part of the first of the two challenges.



To read about how I got started on this challenge, please read my last post:



Challenge:  Below The (Poverty) Line, Part 1 of 2




To find out how I fared with that challenge, well, read on.



A reminder. Bestie Boy’s text in green and mine in brown.





Me: Duuuuude! I so limbo’d through the week, yo! Uh huh, shimmy’d ‘n duck’d below that frakking line! 




Oppan! This NO Gangnam style! 😉




Okay, okay, I know I foolishly compare something as horrific as poverty to happy times like dancing. What I was getting at is, I’ve just completed my dinner that capped a (work) week of dieting below the poverty line. (Dieting – again, a wrong choice of word, I know, but I think that’s what dieting feels like.) Quite tempted to celebrate right now with a slice of chocolate cake that’s oozing my name in trickles in the box it lies in.



Right. Ditching the drama; cutting to the crux.



Refraining from the beyond-basic extras wasn’t as hard as I suspected it would be, thanks to my ability to move a few gears in my head. Yes, yes, I really want to show off attaining the spiritual goal I hoped to with this challenge.  



First, the ‘give the devil his due’ stuff. I hadn’t read about this challenge anywhere. So a very special ‘Thank You’ for sounding me about it, Bestie Boy.



Thanks to this challenge, I also finally know what I’m going to gift Liam* for his birthday this year!

*Liam is my friend who is a (Catholic) priest.



In Liam’s name, I’ll do something with the money I have saved skipping the frills this week. It’s a toss-up between giving him the amount for his street boys’ shelter or giving someone something edible right here in my city. As you know, I don’t give donations per se. I like to deny myself something and “donate” the money I would have spent on that temporary luxury. My travelling second class on long distance trains make sense now? I feel like a flippin’ saint when I suffer through stuff like that for this reason! I find this manner of giving fulfilling.



Liam doesn’t like receiving personal gifts, but he likes it when someone more deserving gets whatever-it-is instead. What’s that saying again? Ah, this.



Show me who your friends are and I’ll tell you what you are. “ ~ Daddy

(Google doesn’t know the true source.)



Bestie Boy: Poverty and its resultant deprivations are something I think about often, anyway.



Me:  Oh? Oh-kay. I know you’ve experienced periods of deprivation on occasion during your student days at uni, but I did not know you were aware in times of bounty.



Bestie Boy: I’m a [the university he studied at] student; of course, I think about these things! Just by process of osmosis, I think anyone who has ever stepped foot inside [the university he studied at] will be instantly made aware of these kinds of things.



But sadly, I did not take part in the ‘Under the Line( initiative. It was much-talked about in the office, so I guess we raised some awareness.



Me: Fo sho! I learned about it through you. In any case, awareness is the first step towards making any kind of change.



Remember how I cribbed because I did not read about this challenge anywhere? Well, I found an article in some business section after the event, and I saved the following excerpt to share with you whenever we got down to talking about this.



The article is about the writer’s experience. He focussed mainly on how he budgeted for the challenge, but this excerpt is what I found more interesting. The writer’s text in blue; my two bits in … yeah, you know.



Of course, as a friend pointed out, many genuinely poor people wouldn’t bother cooking at all – they would simply buy £5 worth of spaghetti hoops, spam and own-brand biscuits and get by on them. Well, maybe so, but I reckon part of this challenge is to try and live in a sustainable, reasonably healthy way. And I did feel quite detoxed by Friday, after five days with no booze, very little fat and no sugar (almost). (I did not think of this benefit! Detoxed – ha ha!)



But I wouldn’t want to have to live below the line for any more than a week at a time [Me neither. I didn’t enjoy the process. 😦 ] – it really made me realise the luxury of choice that you take for granted when you have enough money. 



Bestie Boy: I liked the last line of the article you included in blue: – it really made me realise the luxury of choice that you take for granted when you have enough money. 



I think that’s what the campaign is all about really: realising how lucky we are.



Me: “Realising how lucky we are (/I am)” wasn’t the reason I jumped at it. Noble and worthy and all that jazz as the thought was, I dove into the challenge to challenge myself with something else.


Deprive myself of my favourite food – check!

Go a whole day with no food*  – check!

*Good Friday and the times I emulated my Muslim colleagues in Saudi Arabia during Ramadan.


Both have been checked off several times to not make me bat an eyelid anymore over the thought. But eat the absolute boring-ish basics and get myself to not just refrain from not eating the fun-nest parts of the meals*, but not crave these luxuries? That was the biggest test for me.



*Raisins, flax seed, dates, jaggery and saffron strands with my porridge

Fish at lunch

Meat at dinner

Dessert after both meals


My fruit, veggie, nuts and junk snacks 




This is typically how I eat.

This image is from 



Thank you, Team at Chapter Q8,


on whose page

10 Ways to Right-Size Your Meals


I found this image. 




Everything Isabella cooks at home is stuff I like. The simple, healthy variety, mostly. Mum and I get a lot of food gifts, but tempting as it all is, that’s pure junk. So I restrict our consumption of that and I give away most of it to those who aren’t as fastidious as Mum and I are.  



Every time I eat, out of habit that I’d cultivated shortly before I moved to China, I am conscious of what goes into my belly as part of my mindfulness ( and gratitude practices. 




Thank you, Susan, John and Erin, for granting me permission to use your article to explain the

Attitude of Gratitude


on your website,

Happy Life U’.




Not easy to be (the one on the) right.

This image is from




Me: As you’ve seen, being aware and being thankful are now routine for me. These two practices (along with a few more) are why I believe that my vita is dolce indeed.



This image is from dreamstime (



When darkness rolls into my life,

I remind myself

that the sun will rise from behind the clouds.  



Thank you, Alberto Monnar and JUMP FOR JOY! Photo Project, for signing up to follow my posts.

Thank you, You’ve Been Hooked!, for commenting on my last post.

Thank you, The Ranting ChefYou’ve Been Hooked!, and mj monaghan for liking my last post.


P.S.: Cheerful Monk adds a footnote to every post acknowledging those who comment on her previous post. She also links the commenters’ names back to their own blogs.

 I like both these practices of acknowledging the time and effort made to comment, and the free advertising! So I’m doing what I do well – being a copycat! 








Thursday, 1 November 2012

Challenge: Below The (Poverty) Line, Part 1 of 2

Filed under: Bestie Boy,Food,Personal Beliefs — by For you, Daddy! @ 4:30 am
Tags: , , ,



With 2012 beginning its ebb, I will do a recap of sorts.  



In my next three posts, I will share some of my first-time experiences this year. As the title says, they were challenges. And I took them quite personally.



The first two posts in this series are about the same challenge; the third and last post will be about a different challenge.



I will narrate my experiences via excerpts of my e-mail correspondence with Bestie Boy circa April-May 2012. As always, his text will be in green and mine in brown. 





Bestie Boy: Someone in the office just mentioned this challenge of living below the poverty line, and my ears pricked up.  



Live Below The Line





If looking at this picture is hard, can you imagine what living that reality must be like?




Bestie Boy: We’re all thinking of doing it when it starts on 7th May. Could you bear to give up nice grub for 5 days, Kate?



Bestie Boy throws down the gauntlet.



Me: I’ll give you this – you’re clever; very clever. Which is a good thing because (your) looks go only so far with me.



I had a successful Lent this year. Remember I said, “I was proud of myself for not having craved my favourite food for 40 days and 40 nights?” You pointed out that ‘proud’ would make me egotistic about it. So I thought about it, and I realise ‘proud’ was the incorrect word to use. I was more relieved not to crave those things, and my belief in my stubbornness determination was strengthened. Is that still egotistic?



Anyway, this challenge will be different from my Lenten ones because here, I won’t be allowed to eat a lot. During Lent, I give up the things I love, but I am never hungry at any point. This challenge will pinch. Hard.  




 Thank you, Margo and Alan, for permitting me the use of your image.

Those two blokes live in my head. Really.



I like when I’m put to the test. So travelling 2nd class on the long distance trains and on public transport around the city (and everywhere else) is not good enough for this masochist. I’m raisin’ ‘em stakes with this, baby. And I’m gonna drive one (stake) right through the organ that will hurt me the most – my breadbasket. Oooh, imagine how much more I’ll brag if I actually go through with this. Well, earning the, ahem, right to be a bragasaurus is the main reason I do these things, don’t I? 😉



I’ve thought of my diet schedule for the challenge. It will be as follows. As you know, the text in red is what I (also) eat normally. Those are also the things I enjoy the most; which is why, I’ve decided that those are just the items I will avoid for the challenge next week.



Breakfast: Milk, oats. Two bananas, a tablespoon of raisins, two saffron strands, a teaspoon of ground flax seeds, one date, ½ a teaspoon of  jaggery. 


Two between brekkie ‘n lunch snacks: Fruit/salad vegetable each time.  


Lunch: Brown rice, gravy. Fish, cooked vegetable, dessert.


Late afternoon: A piece of cheese, dry fruit (2 almonds, ½ a walnut, 2 cashew nuts, 1 fig, 1 apricot) and a tiny chunk of junk more often than not.


Early evening: Fruit with yoghurt.


Dinner: Cooked veggies, pita bread/brown bread. Meat, dessert.


No green tea through the day; just plain water.



Whoa! That’s a lot of red up there, Bestie Boy! I feel dizzy (with hunger) just looking at that!



This image is from

Thank you, Rocco, for permitting me the use of your image.


Your precious pooch is exactly as crestfallen as I was when I realised exactly what the challenge would entail.  



Will have to psyche Mother now because she was mighty upset when I skipped fish and meat during Lent this year. She was almost certain that without some of my fave stuff, I’d turn even more skinny. (Oh, shut yer yap. That is possible.) Worrying about my wellbeing is her privilege, and since I rarely give her the opportunity to worry, she goes a wee bit nuts when the occasion arises.  



So could I put my mouth where my heart is? I don’t mean stuff my face with all the food I love, e-friends. Do you think I could pull this off?



To find out, watch this space. Same place. Same time. A fortnight from now.



Thank you, You’ve Been Hooked!, for commenting on my last post.

Thank you, You’ve Been Hooked!, for liking my last post.


P.S.: Cheerful Monk adds a footnote to every post acknowledging those who comment on her previous post. She also links the commenters’ names back to their own blogs.

 I like both these practices of acknowledging the time and effort made to comment, and the free advertising! So I’m doing what I do well – being a copycat! 






Friday, 1 June 2012

Kain Tayo!



Kain tayo  = “Let’s eat!” in Tagalog, the widely spoken language in the Philippines.

During my stint as Nurse Clinician with Aramco, Saudi Arabia, I befriended Fleur, my Filipina co-worker. 


Well over a decade on and oceans apart, we are still friends today. 🙂


I had spent a considerable amount of my time at Fleur’s. Why? Because she was an excellent cook! Duh. And I? Oh, I’m every good cook’s dream guest! Because I love good food, I am not afraid to try out things I have never eaten before and I am definitely not afraid to voice my opinion.


With Fleur and her group of friends, the words, “Kain tayo!”were tossed around a lot. Yes, I spent many happy hours around food with my friends. Filipino cuisine is not as hot/pungent as I have come to prefer, but it was tasty enough to eat on a regular basis. Pancit (noodles),  Lumpia (spring rolls), Adobo (a soya sauce-vinegar-garlic meat dish), Kare-Kare (oxtail peanut stew) and Longganisa (sweetish sausage) were eaten often enough by my friends to be considered staples. Which is why I grew to enjoy these preparations.


Having had such a wonderful gustatory experience with Filipino food in Saudi Arabia, it was only natural that I visit the country properly to enjoy the real deal.


Four years ago, I visited the Philippines on my own because Fleur and I could not coordinate our holidays. She was (and still is) with Aramco and I had long since left. I wasn’t too disappointed because I liked exploring a bit of her country on my own.  But the food? It was a letdown.


Sadly, “real” Filipino food did not live up to the fantasy experience I had envisioned and hoped for, or even what I had experienced with Fleur and friends.


Disclaimer: When I travel, I avoid international food chain outlets, and I avoid high end restaurants. I love street food and I patronise small and/or family run eateries for a more authentic or organic experience. So my experience below may come across as skewed.


Overall, I found the commercial fare in the Philippines very greasy, the portions small and not “meaty” enough. On the whole, there was nothing that blew me away. The warm, melded flavours were Asian in some ways, but there was, once again, that noticeable absence of spice and heat (pungency). I preferred the street snacks by far.


The tastiest ‘proper meal’ (i.e. in a restaurant) I ate was at a food court in a mall in Manila. It was my last lunch in the country, and after a mostly non-exciting experience with restaurant food, I went in for known favourites.


I ate Bihon Noodles (vermicelli-thin noodles) and Stir-Fried Squid (with the ink). I did not pay attention to the prices when ordering and chose from the array on display. Those turned out to be some of the cheapest options, but ironically, that meal was the most expensive I had had in my 2 weeks in the Philippines. That’s because that mall was none other than the largest in Asia and therefore, appropriately called The Mall of Asia.


Thank you, Elvie Rose, for permitting the use of this image. You can find more of Elvie Rose’s work at


Although I was disappointed with my overall eating experience in the Philippines, I did try out a whole lot of new dishes during my time there. The following put a smile on my food-fussy face. Not surprisingly, everything I liked was from the street hawkers. With the amount of time I have spent eating on the streets of Asia, my tummy has been galvanised. 🙂


1. Puto BongBong: Sweetened sticky rice, coloured a bright purple, that’s put in a small bamboo mould and pushed out to form a 10 in (25 cm) long roll. Topped with grated coconut and brown sugar. Served on a bit of banana leaf.


Thank you, Jeff Vergara, for permitting me the use of this image. You can find more of Jeff’s work at


2. Pinagte: A leafy veggie pie (local spinach?) cooked in a fish-based gravy and cut into big, soggy squares. And I ate that out of a plastic bag. 🙂 The texture reminded me of Spanakopita.


3. Piaya: A flattened pop-tart. Flaky pastry with ube (taro) and date filling. I tried the other fillings with mung beans and camote (a sweet potato-like root veggie), but liked the ube one best.


4. Puto: Tiny, steamed, rice cupcakes. These were a favourite that Fleur often cooked just for me. I had to be very strict with myself not to gorge on these in the Philippines so I could try other stuff. I had them just once. 😦


Thank you, Ghee, for permitting the use of this image. You can find more of Ghee’s work at


As always, I tried out a different item every opportunity I got. Here are some that were a first for me, and quite possibly I won’t ever go back for seconds.  All, but the first one (i.e Chicken Skin), were dipped in thick batter to bulk up the bits, and deep fried. 


1. Chicken Skin: These bits of pure chicken skin were cut up in pieces and were nicely crisp, but they had an overpowering chicken taste. I could almost taste the chickens scratching around in the yard!


2. Chicken Oesophagus: (Not!) These bits looked like pretzel sticks. They were equally firm and crunchy. The vendors called them “throat”. When I looked askance, they offered “neck”. Turns out they were bits of oesophagus. That’s what I thought until I contacted Sidney Snoeck to request the use of this image of his.


Thank you, Sidney Snoeck, for permitting me the use of this image. You can find more of Sidney’s work at :


This is not what I ate. I mean, what I ate did not look like this. They really looked liked broken bits of deep-fried pretzel sticks. I’ve chosen to include this image because I quite possibly ate the deep-fried version of ….  chicken intestines. Ack!


These are the grilled version. Sidney’s site (URL above) has a lot of, um, interesting stories.


3. Chicken “Nuggets”: This snack saddened me. I got 5 pieces for 10 PHP/15p/25¢. The first one I bit into was all batter and bone. So was the second. I thought I just got unlucky with those 2, but all the pieces I had were the same. Later, my volcano trek guide confirmed that that’s what chicken nuggets are. I felt very sorry for those who could not afford to buy real chicken nuggets because bony bits in batter is what street snack consumers knew of the popular meat(ish)-only snack.


4. Camote: Camote is a kind of white-fleshed tuber. Not too starchy like the potato, but a little smoother like the sweet potato. It’s just the tiniest bit sweet, too.


And I’ve saved the best of my Filipino foods for last!


Balut: Dude, I psyched myself about this well-known delicacy for months before I got there, but plucked up the courage to eat it …. only on my last night. What a wimpy (overgrown) kid!  


Balut is … deep breaths, everyone … boiled duck embryo.


The Day 16 one is for losers. 😉 I’m no loser, yo, so brave heart that I am, I went for the Day 19 one, which is recommended, because the embryo is better developed with the downiest of feathers in view.


Quack Pot


Quack Pot. That’s what Elmer Fudd calls me, but I’m talking about what’s in my right hand. You cannot see it very clearly. That’s a quack in a pot. Okay, in a shell. It’s a Balut, the boiled duck embryo. Of course, I ate it. And? I absolutely loved it!


The shell at the pointy end of the egg has to be gently broken and the broth, uh, amniotic fluid, is to be drunk. That heady fluid tasted like a strong crab broth. Slurp! I peeled off a little more of the shell and peered very briefly at the little duckie with its eyes wide shut, dismissed its little face from my mind, ignored the network of blood vessels all around it and bit right into it. Soft, smooth and savoury. There was no turning back now. What little trepidation I had left crumbled like the rest of the egg shell.


The white of the egg was a disappointment. It was hard. Oh, very hard and had none of the rich flavour of the developing yolk.


A real pity I summoned up the courage to eat this night snack on my last night in the Philippines.


Balut is a late evening snack and is sold by vendors on bicycles. I plucked up the courage to flag down the last vendor to walk into the street I shacked up for that night and the chicken that I was, I bought just one.


Well, I’ll just have to go back to the Philippines for more one day.


Thank you, The Book of Terrible , orples and mj monaghan, for commenting on my last post.

Thank you, The Book of Terrible and orples, for liking my last post.


P.S.: Cheerful Monk adds a footnote to every post acknowledging those who comment on her previous post. She also links the commenters’ names back to their own blogs.

 I like both these practices of acknowledging the time and effort made to comment, and the free advertising! So I’m doing what I do well – being a copycat! 


Sunday, 1 April 2012

The Scorpion Queen


Before I get to the title story, I have a little, um, business to take care of.

The day my last post went live, I got this notification via e-mail.

The Hook liked your post on For You, Daddy!  
  They thought The LLONNGG And short Of Itwas pretty awesome.You should go see what they’re up to. Maybe you’ll like their blog as much as they liked yours!
Great posts worth seeing from The Hook:

Want less email? Modify your Notification Options.


Okay, so The Hook liked my post, you say? Yes! But that’s not all. Look closer. Um, there’s a list of his previous posts, you wager again? YES! Gosh, you guys are good! Keep going! You’re hot! Hot! Hot!

You have no idea what I’m on about (now)? Oh.


The first post, people! The first post! IT’S THE HOOK’S BIRTHDAY!

I clicked on that link because I was curious about the date, and for whatever reason, I assumed it would be later this year. Oh, how wrong I was! His lovely wife informed me (and the rest of the readers) that it was recently past. 25 February, to be precise.

Well, Vampire Lover AKA The Hook’s wife did write on his birthday proper, but I missed it. I just could not understand how. True, I do not often get to my PC every day, sometimes for days in a row,  but The Hook’s blog, like a couple of others, is RSSed. Therefore,  I am (supposedly) notified of all new posts, I railed in my head. So how did I not get to see this one?

When I found out that I missed his birthday nearly three weeks later, I went a little, um, ape in my response to Marcy’s (Orples’ brain mama’s) comment in my previous post and a comment I made on some unrelated post on The Hook’s blog.  

The Hook has two blogs.

One is called ‘The Book of Terrible’. (

The other is ‘You’ve Been Hooked!’ (

I have RSSed ‘The Book of Terrible’ because ‘You’ve Been Hooked’ is based on The Hook’s interests i.e. comic books and science fiction. I am not a comic book fan (excluding Commando, Westerns, Archie and a couple of ‘toons.) I am not a SF (sci-fi) buff either. So I only read ‘The Book of Terrible’.  

On his blog ‘The Book of Terrible’, The Hook writes terrible posts. No, no, I do not mean his style of writing is terrible. His posts are about terrible things, mostly. I like that. Because sometimes, I froth at the mouth over those issues, too, but only to my little circle. It’s heartening to see that there strangers across the globe who feel the same. I’ve got to admit that I am equally hooked on The Hook’s rants. He’s funny when he cuts like a knife. *giggle*

When drafting out this snippet for his birthday, and gathering together all my data, I realised that The Hook’s birthday was mentioned on his blog that I do not read i.e. ‘You’ve Been Hooked’. And hallelujah! I finally got to the bottom of how I missed The Hook’s birthday.

So now that you all know what I am all in a tizzy about, let me tarry no further.

I may be late, but the wish is just as heartfelt, Hook! This is no occasion for the usual characters in your posts; only the classiest of celebs for you.

Happy Belated Birthday, Hook!
This image is from

Thank you also, for being a responder to all the comments on your blog. (That’s kinda important to me). Oh, for being a great sport, too! 🙂

Have a wonderful year, Hook!  

And now we return to our regularly scheduled programming.    

:::  :: ::  ::  ::  ::  ::  ::  ::     THE MAIN ACT      ::  ::  ::  ::  ::  ::  ::  ::  ::  ::: 

First, please look at this picture.

Snackies, mmmmm!


Have you composed yourselves? Yes, that is a scorpion I am about to sink my jaws into. No, it is not made of plastic.

During my time in China, I used to attend the annual food festival (duh!) in my city. Years earlier, I had seen heaps of crickets and grasshoppers in Bangkok, but was too chicken back then to try something that looked far from “just like chicken!”

The very first year I attended the food festival in my city in China, I saw these creepy crawlies being sold. To be eaten. I had heard aplenty about Chinese eating scorpions and voila! I was presented with the opportunity to blend in with the locals. I shuddered when I first saw the varieties of creatures on display. I went through all the stalls with more “normal” food, but my mind was on these things. An hour or so later, I had psyched myself sufficiently and I was ready to gnash my fangs.

I picked out four “items”. Let’s look at the photograph once again now.

The smile before the …


In my left hand (that is, on the right side of the screen), I have a black scorpion and a centipede. In my other hand, white scorpions and crocodile meat.

As you will notice, some of the white scorpions are missing on that skewer and that’s because I had already eaten three when this picture was taken. They were deep fried like the centipede, and I liked the crunchy feel of both – the centipede and the white scorpions. They did not have a discernible flavour. As for the barbecued crocodile bites, just like chicken! I kid. The croc meat (is there a word for it, anyone?) was very tender, but it felt distinctly striated. The more obvious taste was that of the spices sprinkled on them.  

So you’re thinking, “Okay, they’re all dead meat. (Ha ha!) So what, huh?”

Well, dear friends, they all look dead in this picture, but the big black one? Notice the mild apprehension writ on my face? Oh, you can’t. Because of my handiwork.

Well, I was a little scared. For good reason. That big, black scorpion was alive. Apparently, this variety of scorpions tastes better and is healthier if eaten alive. Who am I to question Chinese philosophy when the rest of the globe is going gaga over ginseng and gingko? So I opted to have the big daddy as per the chef’s recommendation.

Now all these creatures are bred for consumption, so they aren’t like their evil wild cousins who deliver the kiss of death. I understood that much.

What got lost in translation was the bit about tearing into the tail first because …. well, read on.

Legs first!


I was intimidated by the occasional, ever so slightly swerving sting. Common sense would dictate getting rid of that which bothers one the most, right? I was too busy being scared to think straight. Which was a good thing really. Because that fright came in handy. I ate one set of legs on one side easily. As I gently clamped my teeth down on the second set on the other side …

WHAM! The <expletive of your choice because my repertoire is lame> thing stung me on the left corner of my mouth.

The Revenge of the Scorpion!


I slammed hard on the panic button and I began to hear the angels strumming their lyres. I had just one Chinese colleague (who barely spoke English) with me because all the other colleagues I had gone along with that day were not as stupid brave as I was to try any of these things, and they wandered off to try out other foodstuff. So barring one known, flailing, nervous wreck, I had complete strangers around me and they …. they merely laughed. Yes, LAUGHED at my reaction at being stung. That got me very angry. 

Here, I was dying and these people around me were laughing?

Within minutes, a huge crowd swarmed around me as I sank to the ground. My mouth hurt like a mother. I could feel my face get warm. I thought it felt swollen, too. Not a known English speaking soul around me and my pleas for “Hospital! Doctor!” fell on uncomprehending ears.

Suddenly, I heard someone speak English. An odd accent (for China), but it was English alright. Hallelujah, they speak English in heaven, I thought.

As I opened my eyes hesitantly, I noticed a distinguished looking gentleman crouched at my side. He forcefully assured me, “You are okay. You are okay.”

“St.Peter, I’m NOT okay. I’ve been stung by a BIG scorpion!”, I blubbered.

The gentleman patted my arm gently and kept repeating, “You are okay. You are okay. I am not Sant Pedro.” in an accent that began to make sense after a while.

I also realised I hadn’t gone anywhere and was still on terra firma. Quite literally! I was on the ground. I sat upright when I felt a little better.

As I patted the corner of my slightly throbbing mouth, the kind gentleman went on to explain that there is no venom in the sting of these scorpions, but it still discharges a “liquid”. (A dry sting apparently is deadly for a scorpion. Irony much?) The discharge doesn’t kill or paralyse humans, merely discolours the area within a 4-inch radius of the sting point.

And the discolouration is the same deep, shiny black as the scorpion. Great. I’ll live, but now I’ll look like I got into a brawl with someone so hammered, he (women don’t punch, they pull hair. I think.) couldn’t tell my eye from my pie-hole. Wait, it gets even better.

That stain that I (proudly) wore would last for 6 months, he explained further, and would start to fade off after that. Stay with me, people. There is a good ending to this saga, I promise ya.

Remember the smart gentleman who reassured me he was not St.Peter? His name is Dr.Aprile Pazzo. He is an entomologist-cum-toxicologist-cum-something else as well, and he was visiting from Turin, Italy. He was mighty thrilled (in a mad scientist kind of way) when he saw me after I got stung. He had come to China to study this very effect. He said he had seen this – a non-venomous scorpion sting – in clinical trials only and he was in China at the time to research Chinese scorpion stings.

He requested me to accompany him to his hotel to make further notes. I believed him, and along with three worried colleagues in tow, I went back with him to his hotel.

Oh, he went nuts! He photographed away! A dozen or so full frontal shots and from various other angles. Distant shots and close-ups. All above shoulder only, folks. Just sayin’.

Then, he called his colleagues back in Turin and yammered on excitedly with free hand flailing, the way Italians do so well.

Now here’s the best part: Dr.Pazzo’s colleagues had not seen a “real life specimen” either. Ever.

So they wanted to see me and put me under the microscope or in a Petri dish or whatever these research types do at Dr.Jekyll Central.

This was not my predicament!
This image is from


They offered to fund my entire trip. From the south of China to the north of Italy. Did I agree? Is that even a question?

Before I left, I was not excited about the trip to Italy really, because as my family and friends know, Europe is not my cuppa really. (Asia has my <3.) What made me say “Si, si, si“…. what? Not like that! Dr.Pazzo told me I would be the focus at some entomology conference. I would be featured in some medical publications. Now tell me, what woman does not dream of being a centrefold? Get in line, The Lancet and The New England Journal of Medicine. 

In China, I got two months off at the end of the academic year (June and July) and I went to Turin then. O Shroud of Christ, thank you for moving over to make place for the new star in town back then.

I had my mind on something else divine though. Turin is the home of Ferrero Rocher. Sigh! 

Turin’s Star Attraction
This image is from


Turin’s Star Confection
This image is from


Turin’s Star Nobody


Until I went to Italy three months later, life continued as (un)usual for me in China. I got stared at even more after that because of the prominent, black patch at one corner of my mouth. It was quite pretty, actually. I think I might have even talked to little Ebony. 🙂 Little did the gawpers I encountered everywhere know that I was someone famous. Well, in the world of toxicology, at least.  

Shortly after my memorable experience at the food festival, Dr.Aprile Pazzo went back to being a Man in White, um, in the lab in La bella Italia. He kept in touch constantly until I saw him and his buncha boffins in Turin a few months later. Each time he called and chatted politely, and enquired after my health tenderly, I knew he was merely concerned about half my face, not the rest of me. I did not care. My mug took me places! Pun definitely intended.

Incidentally, Dr.Pazzo has the following message for all of you.


Aprile Pazzo in Italian stands for April Fools’ Day.


Thank you, orplesmj monaghan, Cheerful Monk and The Book of Terrible   for commenting on my last post.

Thank you, orples, The Book of Terrible and mj monaghan for liking my last post.


P.S.: Cheerful Monk adds a footnote to every post acknowledging those who comment on her previous post. She also links the commenters’ names back to their own blogs.

 I like both these practices of acknowledging the time and effort made to comment, and the free advertising! So I’m doing what I do well – being a copycat! 





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