This post could have gone either direction – a lament of failing yet another examination or a dedication to an exhilarating end to a course of study that was, in the beginning, as remote to me as Kyrgyz cuisine. It all began in January when I came home from Cairo to find that I’d failed one of the papers from the last round of examinations. The thought of seeing an “F” on the result slip again haunted me throughout the next semester. I registered for the supplementary paper in July and was all motivated to better my previous grade. Alas, as time went by, work started piling to the roof. I had no choice but to rush through deadlines and subsequently isolated myself from the world to study for a few days prior to the examination. Preparation is not just about immersing oneself in the notes but also taking care of one’s health by eating well and working out. All too dramatic, perhaps. Some may even argue that I should have adopted a more relaxed approach. Yes, I would…if I was still 21.
Anyway, yes, eating well. There’s nothing more balanced than a polystyrene box of mixed rice. It does get oily and MSG-ed most of the time but I believe it’s all about choosing the dishes wisely. Kindly decline that extra scoop of shiny, happy gravy and you’ll keep your heart beating for another minute. And maybe keep that strand of hair intact for a couple more years too. So, for the next few days leading to the examination, it was solely chye png (mixed rice) and lots of hot green tea.
Stir-fried pork with black pepper, long beans, bok choy, sardine.
Sweet and sour pork, sambal brinjal and okra, stir-fried bittergourd with fermented bean paste.
Honeyed pork ribs, stewed pork belly, sambal kangkung, lettuce.
Sweet and sour pork, Kong Po chicken (with lots of onion), mustard green leaves, celery.
The night before the examination - mustard green leaves, bok choy, Kong Po chicken and braised pork slices.
Mixed rice is something that I had enjoyed growing up with. I like the sight of having a colourful spread right in front of me and to be able to choose whichever dish that pleases my appetite du jour. I must admit that in the past few years, I had started seeking other, usually more expensive, options. Of course, I do enjoy each experience but I guess, in a way, I've turned into this person that is obsessed with discoveries than to really enjoy the food itself. I had succumbed to all celebrations and overhyping of the latest, the best and whatever superlative that is within my limited vocabulary. Now, I find them creepy. The way I see it, simple pleasures like eating have been overly commercialised and dramatized on the web. I am cynical that way. As much as I like photography, I'm starting to realise that sometimes, the camera is not the best company to a dinner, especially when it should be about the conversation and food. Whatever lah. As this tak apa, laissez faire blog celebrates its third (belated) anniversary, I hope to eat well, spend more time with my friends, travel further and stay healthy.
The supplementary examination result slip was sitting on my desk when I returned home a few days ago. A "P" is visually not very much different from an "F" and so, I had to magnify the print to confirm. It was a "P". I haven't made myself a totem but I believe that it's not a dream. So, yay.