There is no such thing as a unifying drive as sturdy as meals. All of us need to eat – it’s a matter of survival.
However meals may convey a lot complexity and color into an individual’s life, whether or not it’s the gleam in a person’s eyes when he takes an keen mouthful of one thing completely scrumptious or the ideas that play in a daughter’s head when she efficiently replicates her mom’s treasured household recipe and even the sense of hopelessness that surrounds an individual who has simply sufficient cash to cobble collectively a plate of rice for his or her ravenous household.
Whatever the form, construction or kind – every of those meals experiences are a part of an intricate community – a tapestry of meals that collude to kind a wealthy financial institution of meals recollections.
Within the newly-launched Telltale Meals: Writings from the Fay Khoo Award 2017- 2019 printed by Hikayat, it’s these similar recollections that play an integral function within the the rigorously structured, evocative meals tales on this anthology.
Edited by former CNBC Asia anchor Bettina Chua Abdullah, the anthology is a compilation of a number of the submissions that Chua and her staff obtained within the three years for the reason that Fay Khoo Award was launched.
For the uninitiated, the Fay Khoo Award for Meals + Drink Writing was established in 2017 to commemorate celebrated Malaysian meals author, creator and radio host Fay Khoo – who died after a battle with lung most cancers.
The award encourages new and gifted voices in meals writing within the area and has obtained over 160 entries within the three years since its inception.
“The breadth and variety of the entries we obtained was superb. We had varied varieties of people that submitted – people who find themselves printed authors, individuals who write for a dwelling, in addition to a banker, lawyer, accountant and a flight attendant. The youngest entrant was a 15-year-old college woman and the oldest was an 84-year-journalist, ” says Chua, who additionally based the award.
The anthology took place after Chua got here to the conclusion that extra individuals wanted to learn these tales, as practically all of them had by no means been revealed to the general public at giant.
“Up till until this anthology, no person had learn the majority of the longlisted, shortlisted and successful entries. Over the previous three years, solely 5 of the tales have ever been printed and that was on-line. There have been so many good tales and collectively, I assumed it might make a beautiful learn and a pleasant approach to wrap up the three years and that’s actually why I put out an anthology, ” says Chua.
To pick out the 31 entries for the anthology, Chua trawled by the longlist and shortlist and cherry-picked items that she felt would resonate with readers and work properly as a set.
Whereas practically all the tales are extremely well-written and interesting, tellingly, it’s the narratives with familial connections and deeply-rooted nostalgic notes that are inclined to resonate probably the most.
Meena Amavasai’s story of early riot and resistance in opposition to the strictures of the kitchen serves up an image excellent portrait of childhood and maturity wending seamlessly, culminating in a powerful Chetti-style pindang ikan.
Then there may be Raja Ummi Nadrah’s hilarious tug-of-war with onions (and her mom), an oh-so relatable narrative acquainted to anybody who’s ever had an aversion to a specific ingredient, solely to have it floor in just about each single meal.
One other scrumptious spotlight is Petrina Fernandez’s euphoric ode to maraschino cherries – a story that juxtaposes gentrification, childhood treats and illicit joys with aplomb and finesse.
Different tales do wonders to intensify the sensations and feelings surrounding meals, like Raidah Shah Idil’s poignant story of rising up, transferring overseas and studying life classes – with meals as a background soundtrack.
Whatever the manner through which every story is structured, meals is a steady, recurring theme – from mee soto to Hainanese rooster rice, ayam masak lemak and even a meal at Gaggan Anand’s eponymous restaurant. There’s a lot to maintain the curiosity as a result of every story uncovers one thing utterly new to whet the urge for food. It’s like consuming an enormous, multi-course thriller meal the place half the enjoyable is in not figuring out what’s going to be served subsequent.
And maybe extra pertinently, the anthology shines a lightweight on what the award has already set in movement: uncovering new skills in meals writing. As a result of who knew there have been so many (largely) regional writers with a present for telling pleasant meals tales?
“These tales are accessible, simple, charming and really entertaining reads. That is additionally a guide that if you happen to get it for the primary time – you don’t need to learn it from starting to finish in that order. Simply open it up and discover one thing to learn and if you happen to do the identical factor on one other day and open in a unique place, you’ll have a meals story however a really totally different one, ” affirms Chua.
Telltale Meals: Writings from the Fay Khoo Award 2017-2019 is priced at RM55 and accessible at main bookstores.