Reunion dinner potluck

Here’s a recipe I picked up in Italy, and decided to bring for the family reunion dinner two nights ago: Octopus simmered in olive oil with carrots and tomatoes, seasoned to taste with marjoram, parsley, salt and pepper.

The recipe I learnt in Italy used a big octopus that filled up the pot. This being Singapore, the only octopus available were frozen small ones, and I defrosted them in brine.

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It was fairly well-received at the dinner table, and the left-overs (reunion dinner tradition – you must have so much food that it lasts into the new year) actually tasted even better the next day. I personally thought the taste of ‘western’ herbs made my dish quite incompatible with the rest of the Chinese dishes with its garlic, coriander and soya sauce seasoning etc. Some enjoyed the contrast, I guess.

I was really pleased when my cousin packed some home to serve over cooked pasta (now, why didn’t I think of that?). I didn’t eat much of my own dish though – it was so smelly and slimy and tentacley when I was dealing with the raw thing that it made my hair stand and lose my appetite. I’ll need to practice a simpler but better dish for next year!

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Remember you are dust

Ash Wednesday this year coincides with the eve of the Chinese New Year, also meaning that the season of Lent starts with the fifteen days of the New Year. This is quite incongruous for the Chinese/Asian Christians and Catholics out there; those used to feasting during this time must now fast.

I guess people all around will look to make meaning out of this clash of perspective, culture and beliefs, and rightly so. What does it mean to begin a new year remembering that you are but dust, and to dust you shall return? To begin a new year knowing that you are utterly and completely in God’s hands, for good or ill on this earth, but always the best for your eternal soul?

pretty ethnic clothing: the cheongsam

this is the second of a 3-part series on ethnic clothing.

i love the cheongsam. the love affair started with my elderly aunt, who used to wear cheongsam or cheongsam-inspired clothes both to work and for major festivities. then i was introduced to the world of suzie wong, which sealed the deal for me. i thought (and still think) the cheongsam to be the most sexily elegant thing a lady can wear. it is, unfortunately, very unforgiving on the figure; besides, not everyone can carry off the look.

what years of half-hearted dieting couldn’t achieve, a devastating break-up did – i finally lost enough weight to squeeze into my aunt’s lovely red lace cheongsam.

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this was chinese new year, 2014 – posing with the owner of the cheongsam.

it is one thing to be able to wear a cheongsam, and quite another to wear it well. the fire-engine red and mature cut requires a sass, a quiet, refined confidence that i simply do not have. perhaps one grows into it, or, you simply fake it till you make it.

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next up: the yukata.