It's an honour to have two pieces featured in Telltale Food, an anthology of food writing that was launched last week at the 2019 George Town Literary Festival.
The collection covers three years and shares many of the submissions for the Fay Khoo award.
One of my stories included is called Escargots de Bourgogne and relates the pitfalls of assuming too much, whether in cooking or life, and is based on a period I spent on a tiny farm in Burgundy more than thirty years ago.
The second piece is called the Taste of Paradise and is more humourous - or at least that was my intention. It is about coconuts, the salacious advertisements that used to feature on Irish television when I was a teenager in the 1980s, and my now regular consumption of coconuts as a staple of the tropical life I've been leading for the last 15 years.
The launch was great fun and all the contributors present received chopsticks and metal straws and copies of the book and the talented Foo May Lyn treated the audience to an absolutely extraordinary reading/performance of one of the stories.
There are many more stories from a very diverse group of writers and makes for a very entertaining and edifying read.
Like my own contributions, not all the featured pieces are Malaysian-centric, though over all the slant leans heavily in that direction.
If you enjoy food (and if you don't, what is wrong with you?) and are curious about Malaysia and food writing in general this is the book for you.
Many thanks to Bettina Chua Abdullah, John Brunton, and all the team at Hikayat for choosing my pieces and making this book possible.
You can buy it here:
"Remarkably, seventeen (out of twenty-nine) of the contributing writers journeyed to Penang for last weekend's book launch. And here they are, toting their gifts of a copy of the book, wooden chopsticks and a metal straw.
(Back row, L to R): Paula Tan, Chrisse Kueh, Meena Amavasai, Raja Ummi Nadrah, Aizuddin Anuar, Petrina Fernandez, Kathlyn D'Souza, Cheah Soon Seng, Harrison Cowan, Marc de Faoite
(Seated, L to R): Dipika Mukherjee, Lee Say Hor, Golinia Michelle Gody, Emilia Fuller, Damyanti Biswas, Yap Hsu-Lyn, Renie Leng
Photo: Chammaine Tan @ Hikayat Blue" - from the Telltale Food Facebook page
Thirty-one stories. Sustenance, soul and culinary journeys.
Telltale Food features an astonishing variety of writings that are a delicious revelation: sensory, nourishing narratives exploring themes of hunger, discovery, growth, delight and sorrow, wrapped in the world of food, cooking and eating. In their mostly Asian-inspired stories, the writers of the Fay Khoo Award transport us from the kitchens they have inherited to the ones they have adopted, down buzzy streets and in swish restaurants.
There is the taste of joyful celebration and the bite of heartbreak. There is food for comfort, and food for friends, and food for the gods. And there is humour and adventure and coming of age. Through the twin lenses of memory and reflection, this is food writing for the senses and the soul.
“This wonderful anthology will open up a new world of storytelling, both for those who love reading and those who aspire to write themselves.” John Brunton, senior journalist at the Guardian and chief judge of the Fay Khoo Award.
(from Gerakbudaya bookshop's website)