Seat 44K, Flight EK405

A familiar song is playing, listening to it comforts me…

I really dislike plane rides. Being stuck in a cramped seat, trapped by 2 other passengers, eating microwaved food… even the passageways lead to nowhere. My laptop is squashed against the folding tray-table in front of me. The aircraft is bound towards Singapore. It has been 2½ years since my last visit.

They just cleared my dinner tray minutes ago. The service was harried and a little discordant. And they ran out of lamb hotpot. They served me chicken pappardelle as consolation. It tasted somewhat edible. The bread was cold. The Asian style prawn on noodle salad was good though. But I didn’t finish the banana cake dessert, it was awful. So on average, Emirate’s plane food stands at 2**. Ha ha, spoken like a hardcore food blogger.

This new interest in documenting food in a blog has been truly fulfilling. It was Carolyn who started me on this journey 3 months ago. We were lunching on a Wednesday at Shira Nui in Glen Waverley. I mentioned in passing how I liked writing but seemed to find inspiration lacking. Mid-way through our meal, Carolyn noticed how I was picking apart the flavours in the chawanmushi and suddenly suggested “why don’t you start a food blog then?”. Carolyn was right. I have a measureless love for food. That fondness makes it easy to write about it limitlessly. I’ve found my untapped source of inspiration.

So fatbooo first came into being as means to practice writing. But since then, that relationship has morphed into a more wholesome interest in uncovering the riddle behind flavours and the people who created them. And curiously, by doing so, a story unfolds.

I returned the foster kittens last night. While I was packing their stuff, I found black-and-white prints of my furry guests in my post box. Hao sent them specially for me. He liked the kittens as much as I did. I got a little teary. Here’s a couple of pictures of them, curiously investigating the prints. In the last one, Blackie lies contentedly on the pictures, not knowing that they’ll soon be the only tangible memories that I will have of them. They have brightened my life.

Boy Boy, Animal ID. 872336, at his cutest.
Daisy, Animal ID. 872334, playing with a picture of herself.
Blackie, Animal ID. 872338.
Blackie started off the shyest and hissiest of the lot. Over the weeks, he grew into the smoochiest one.
Sometimes I think I’m married to this blog. The last two years has seen me striking a new existence in Australia by myself. I have my colleagues and my friends. But when I’m home, I’m a solo act. Cooking, cleaning and hanging the laundry in a bachelor pad. I’ve noticed quite a number of foodbloggers have partners. Talking about food feels almost like an instinctive waltz, an exploration for two people, an adventure meant to be chronicled together. But in my case, it is more an intimate dialogue between the blog and myself. Fatbooo keeps me company on the nights where I’d potentially feel lonesome at home. We would talk about our shared passion together, the same way couples do.

Journeys bring out a melancholia within me, be it plane rides, roadtrips, train rides or boats. I tend to get pensive whenever I am displaced from my normal life. I hate packing. Selecting fragments of myself out of an established home life. Why can’t I bring all of it? I have to carefully choose the pieces that will define who I am and provide me assurance when I step into a foreign place. With that, I can then feel bold enough to absorb another country into my soul.

Tonight, I look out the window and watch the blackness and the mist. Below me, lies an infinite expanse of land and sea. A million lives dwell below, each with its own story. It makes me realise my own existence is just a very small part of a much larger scheme of things.

So fatbooo’s story has to continue. This trip to Singapore will be like a reunion between my older self and the food that I’ve grown up with. I will tear hawker centres apart, in search of street-food utopia. I will look for the tropical fruits that can’t be found in Australia. I will watch my family and friends eat. I will see what foods they prefer now. I will try to understand why their tastes have changed since I last saw them. And I will be eating with mum and dad, the two people who have unknowingly shaped my palate for the first 25 years of my life.

Written on 18 Dec 2010