Well this man sitting at the front of the restaurant was being so loud about how he had been to Malaysia once and this was kind of authentic, but not at all what he experienced. He proceeded to pass along this critique to the woman who checked him out, and she asked him if he had ever been to Sabah and KK, because that's where she was from. (He hadn't. Bless his heart.) Y'all. This was her! Not only was she from my state but she was from my city! I was freaking out. This was my in. I was staring her down and as she walked by our table I quickly blurted out, "You're from KK?! I lived there this past year!!!" The conversation that ensued was pretty anticlimactic. It was short, we exchanged where we lived in the city, we talked about missing the fruit in Malaysia, and she went on her way. 1. I didn't get asked back to the kitchen. 2. All my memory of Malay went out the window in this 30 second exchange. I left feeling full of delicious mee goreng, but slightly defeated.
If you know me, you know I love to cook. It is both a simple joy but also a pretty great coping mechanism. Senior year exam week, my townhouse was erupting with cookies, bread, and cakes. This past year, I picked up cookbooks and a few aprons along my journey. I have looked through my cookbooks, but have been far too intimidated to really try anything out of them. Anytime I asked one of my Malaysian friends or coworkers to teach me to cook something, they'd respond with "It's so simple!" And that was that. So I enjoyed lots of food this past year, but didn't ever learn how to make any of it.
And that is where we pick up today. I have this blog that holds lots of stories and lessons from this past year, and now I'll take you through my adventures in the kitchen as I try to recreate some of my favorite meals from Southeast Asia.
I've located the nearest Asian market. I have my wok and my rice cooker. And I have cookbooks covering all things dumplings, to Chinese feasts and festivals, to Malaysian hawker stall favorites, to traditional Thai cuisine.
Here we go, people! Kita makan! Let's eat!