Food for Thought

Of How I Became Tham Jiak

Nearing to a year of the inception of Tham Jiak, I think it is about time to introduce the girl behind it all, ME. I find this the really probable time to start depicting my life here, as I have just started a new phase in my life. If you have the time, let me rant right from the beginning.

I was a really chubby little girl when I was young, and that is not due to my tham jiak-ness, in fact I was once a picky little eater. I was always unable to finish my food, and my poor nanny or her daughters would have to persuade and entice me to take a few more bites, usually the most common household method is the promise of no more eating after 3 spoons. At that point, they would be hoping that I lose my attention and eat more than that, but the cheeky me would be counting with my fingers, poking each out with every mouthful. But the really amazing part was I was able to stay chubby or grow even rounder, and they would always joke that I have all the air inside me.

At 5, I no longer go to my nanny’s and was back at home, starting to go to school. I continue to stay chubby till nearly 10, and that time everyone, including all my relatives, would call me ‘fei po’ (fat girl) and being young and oblivious, it was not really a matter at that time. During those times too I get to enjoy my grandma’s cooking (we stay right next door to each other) and learnt to be less picky, though still a bit of a pain, but I was starting to try things out. Come to think back, I am really sorry to all those who tried to make me try some new food, knowing that it’s tasty or it’s good for me. Then nearing to 10 years old, my grandma migrated to Australia, which she only manage to stay a few years where she then came back, missing her life in Malaysia. Since her return, her children insist that she enjoy life and not do any household work at all, including cooking. Thus, since then I was subjected to catered food everyday, which sometimes, ok most of the time, were not too appetizing. So you can guess, including with my growing age, I managed to become quite slim by the time I hit my teens.

The time I discovered the joy of cooking and that I had it in me is quite an accident. That time my mum was working over time for two weeks, and so I would be waiting for her for dinner every night. Those were the time of our catering days, and I pitied my mum for working late, so I thought of the idea of coming home to hot and yummy food would be a comfort to her. So nearing the time of her return I would fire up the rarely-touched stove and heat up the catered food. You must be thinking you call that cooking? Well, not yet but I am getting there. Then when my mum comes home to those piping hot food and eat, I am happy that she is at least enjoying the not-so-appetizing catered food. Then after a while, I started to do some tinkering. I remembered they use to give us this sardine dish right out of the can, which is, let’s just say not so delectable. During heating up I decided to do some modification and added chilli sauce, sugar and some other things that I can find in my scant kitchen and voila, it started to smell nice, in fact, delicious! When my mum came home, I eagerly waited for her to try the sardine, and when she moan in pleasure and commented that the sardine was good, I was more than happy, I was ecstatic. Oh yes, you cooks out there would understand what I meant, the joy of someone appreciating and reveling in your food is just so, so good. From then on I never look back, I knew it that I would learn to make good food, I would cook for myself and all my loved ones. I would never ever subject my family to second grade food in the future.

Anyway, teens breeze pass in a blink and then I was suddenly thrown to live in KL on my own. That time I ate out most of the time, living in a food haven (Wangsa Maju) and inevitably put on quite some weight, since when weight is a matter? Since we are no longer in our sweet 16 I guess. Sigh. At that time I did some cooking, not really serious but some dinners once a while and have dreaming of grander feasts all the time. My kitchen that time was really small and congested, shared by 7 girls, so you can imagine how little cooking can be done there. When we finally moved to PJ, Y and I, we have been living with each other since we ever live in KL, finally got the kitchen to ourselves, mini it is but I can start stocking up on my utensils and all.

Finally, after few years of cooking here and there, some hard-rock muffins and burn pots, I finally went full blast in cooking after I discovered food-blogosphere, which had been a real source of encouragement. I read so many people’s trials and errors, rejoicing with their success and empathizing with their food flops, while learning from their mistakes along the way. That is when I know, I, as an ordinary girl can also make extraordinary food. The exchange of recipes and vast information in the blogosphere is simply amazing. Thank you all, wherever you are, you had changed a life of a girl.

Now, I have shifted to a new home, with a larger kitchen, but lesser time to cook as I had just graduated and started my full time job. Coupled with my tham-jiakness, I would still venture out to try some good food when I was too busy while still learning to cook up some good fare for myself, J and also my friends; and not to forget continuing to write and surf the food-blogosphere!

Till then, happy eating!

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