Reverse imported food

Two interesting news articles in the last two days.

The first is about a well-known British-Indian chef, Manju Malhi, who intends to introduce to India, Indian’ dishes which are popular in Britain but unknown in India:

Malhi is shooting a television cooking show in New Delhi promoting British cuisine with an Indian twist, a combination she has dubbed Brit-Indi, and which has made her famous back in Britain.

Read more here.

The second piece of news is that sources of tuna are running low, causing a national sushi crisis in Japan. The solution for some is this:

Yamagata, 59, has been experimenting with more creative tuna alternatives at Miyakozushi, a restaurant catering to the business lunch crowd that has been in his family for four generations. He said his most successful substitutes were ideas he “reverse imported” from the United States, like smoked duck with mayonnaise and crushed daikon with sea urchin. He said he now made annual visits to sushi restaurants in New York and Washington for inspiration.

“We can learn from American sushi chefs,” Yamagata said. “Sushi has to evolve to keep up with the times.”

Food purists all over the world must be having heart attacks! But personally I do like chicken tikka and California rolls :).

Failsafe Baked Donuts/Doughnuts

doughnuts

My first batch of baked doughnuts

Last week a neighbour brought some home-made fried doughnuts round to our place. They seemed so delicious but I was afraid they would upset my elimination diet. Since then I have been craving doughnuts, especially since people have been discussing doughnuts on the Failsafe discussion group. [Failsafe = free of additives, low in salicylates, amines and flavour enhancers.] So I decided to plunge into the world of doughnut making myself. [Update 11/12/07: read my notes on fried dough foods in different cultures here.]

Firstly, I decided to make baked doughnuts instead. I had been reading about doughnut baking tins on the Failsafe discussion group and learnt about baked doughnuts for the first time. Certainly healthier than fried ones. I went out and got myself a doughnut baking tray (Takashimaya, S$19.90; in comparison, an electric waffle maker at S$49 isn’t a lot more!).

Next, I trawled the internet and read more than twenty baked doughnut recipes. Realised that there are two basic types:
a) ones that use buttermilk or milk+apple cider vinegar (to simulate buttermilk)
b) ones with no fermented milk

Under (b), there are two further sub-categories:
i) ones made like muffins: dry ingredients dump into wet ingredients, mix
ii) ones made like cake: cream fat & sugar, beat in egg, mix in dry ingredients.
[Want to know more about the 'muffin method' vs. the creaming method? Then read this post.]

Since (a) recipes are out of the question for me – I try to avoid fermented stuff and vinegar if possible (anti-candida), and also buttermilk is ridiculously expensive so it’s better not to depend on it if there are other alternatives.

Out of (b) recipes, this being my first attempt at making doughnuts I didn’t want a less-than-satisfactory result to put me off trying again, so I chose the more labour-intensive method, which I also thought would result in a lighter, fluffier doughnut.

I used a recipe from Cooks.com – there are so many baked donut recipes there, I compared various that fitted (b)(i), all the ingredients quantities were the same, so any of them would do. E.g.

BAKED DONUTS

1/3 c. butter
1/2 c. sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 c. flour
2 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 c. milk

Cream butter and sugar; add beaten egg and mix well. Mix in dry ingredients and milk alternately. Fill greased muffin tins 1/2 full. Bake 350 degrees, 20-30 minutes.

My modifications:
1) Used all wholemeal flour.
2) Reduced sugar to 1/4 cup
3) Omitted nutmeg (and cinammon, which many recipes call for) in order to be failsafe.
4) Used plastic bag with hole cut in corner to pipe the dough into the tin. It’s hard to spoon the slightly stiff dough into a the doughnut shape in the baking tray! It’s nicer having these doughnut shaped moulds rather than using a muffin tray as described in the recipe.
5) Baked at 180 degrees Celsius, 12 mins. Read this in other recipes, which say don’t overbake.
6) Instead of making a sticky icing for them, I dusted icing sugar over the top when they were done.

The result:
Wonderful! They were crisp on the outside, soft (albeit a bit crumbly) on the inside. Texture is fine with wholemeal flour, but a slight raw taste. Next time I will lightly toast the wholemeal flour first.

Next up, I want to eat waffles!

15/3/08 update: check out my grandmother’s doughnut method, using fried choux pastry.

Tea, caffeine & one’s constitution pt. 2

I have just started attending a short course in Chinese tea appreciation. Among the many things the teacher talked about, two areas related directly to my earlier postings on this blog about caffeine and one’s body constitution.

On caffeine
Chinese green teas (classified as unfermented) have the highest level of caffeine. Therefore they are best drunk in the morning.

Pu-Er tea, which undergoes the longest fermentation (it is often left to age for years and decades), has the lowest caffeine and can be drunk in the evenings. The older the Pu Er, the lower the caffeine.

One’s constitution
The tea appreciation instructor, when she sells tea, will always ask who the tea is for, and about the age, health and lifestyle of the person drinking the tea. This information will enable her to recommend a suitable tea.

For example, if you tend to cough and often feel cold (does that indicate a yin constitution?), you should not drink too much green tea. Pu Er tea is more suitable.

She also corroborated my own stand on this – you know best your own constitution so you need to make sure that you choose suitable teas. This of course begs the question, how do we know what our own constitution is? I suppose the answer is to learn more about Traditional Chinese Medicine. Muscle testing, as used in applied kinesiology, is also a good skill to help us test our own condition.

Antidote to food additive reaction

This is news to me!

From Sue Dengate:

For an occasional antidote to a reaction, try a pinch of soda bicarb in half a glass of water, or half to one Caltrate plain white 600 mg calcium supplement tablet.

Wow, maybe I could have suffered a lot less over the years if I’d known about this.

Normally, I try to reiki the reaction away, and for MSG attacks I had to resort to countering poison with another poison — Coca Cola (yucks: I have to say I’ve lost the ability to enjoy the artificial sugary taste).

Last week I learnt from my kinesiologist that a good thing to do is use EFT on the reactions.  Somehow I don’t connect as well with EFT or find it as enjoyable as using reiki, but I do think it works and I’ve read some good books on it:
Roger Callahan & Richard Trubo, Tapping the Healer Within : Using Thought-Field Therapy to Instantly Conquer Your Fears, Anxieties, and Emotional Distress
Phillip Mountrose & Jane Mountrose, Getting Thru to Your Emotions with EFT: Tap into Your Hidden Potential with the Emotional Freedom Techniques
David Feinstein, Donna Eden & Gary Craig, The Promise of Energy Psychology

Diets: Failsafe vs. anti-candida

I have been reading through the recipes in Sue Dengate’s book, Fed Up, trying to get ideas for what to cook & eat. The presence of white sugar and golden syrup all over made me alarmed as I have been trained on the anti-candida diet of no yeast & no sugar. However, this Sue Dengate factsheet on candida makes me wonder if I have should been doing it differently and paying more attention to salicylates all along. She says,

It is counterproductive to try to combine failsafe eating with a candida diet which excludes yeast and sugar. People who are failsafe ‘but not 100%’ and swear they react to sugar have almost certainly failed to reduce their salicylate level enough.

Sugar and yeast free diets exclude so many processed foods and natural foods high in salicylates or amines that most people improve when following them. Unfortunately, though, they are very hard to follow and many people come to us after months or years of a candida diet having failed to achieve the improvements they wanted, still not knowing which food chemicals affect them, and completely fed up with the idea of doing any diet. In our experience, it is easier and more effective to go failsafe.

‘Failsafe’ refers to Dengate’s approach to food, which is ‘Free of Additives, Low in Salicylates, Amines and Flavour Enhancers’. Anyway, salicylates are now my no. 1 priority, and my tolerance for yeast & sugar are much better now (though not unlimited), so I’m going to ditch the anti-candida diet for these few weeks and see how I go.

*Sigh* the biggest problem is the nerves of steel to stay ‘100% failsafe’, especially when surrounded by a family who are resolutely anti-failsafe in their own eating :].

P.S. I’m already a failed food-combiner and failed microbiotic-er, because I found them too hard. But I did learn a lot from reading up on each of those methods :).

Food sensitivities

I haven’t been in the mood to update my blog much recently because I have been feeling rather unwell. A visit to the kinesiologist diagnosed yet another food substance I’ve become sensitive to: salicylates. I’ve been on anti-candidasis and additive-avoidance diets for the last five years but salicylates are new to me! It is a naturally-occurring substance in many fruits & vegetables (especially dried herbs and dried fruit) so even eating ‘healthy’ fresh fruit and veg can be a minefield :(. The peppermint cough mixture I was taking was lethal, and I’ve put aside my organic botanical toiletries for now too, just to be on the safe side.

In fact, I’ve found that ‘safe’ fruits and vegetables have also been causing minor reactions in me, which I believe is due to cross-contamination with foods that the rest of my family is eating. It only takes the same knife or chopping board to be used to cause cross-contamination.

Read more about salicylate sensitivity here.

Also, highly recommended is the Food Intolerance Network, run by Sue Dengate. She has published several books on the subject.

A book worth well-worth reading is
John Emsley & Peter Fell, Was It Something You Ate?: Food Intolerance: What Causes It and How to Avoid It (Oxford University Press, 2002)

Initially I felt rather depressed and defeated by yet another food intolerance to deal with, but on the bright side, according to the kinesologist’s tests, my body will recover if I avoid salicylates completely for three weeks. Food sensitivities surface when the body is under stress, and the degree of the reaction depends on the total stressload at any one time; this can be physiological stress from food additives, environmental pollution, chemical exposure (e.g. in household cleaning products), as well as mental and emotional stress.

I’ve been through the experience of a super-restricted anti-candida diet before, but recently have gotten used to sneaking in small amounts of disallowed foods when my body was able to tolerate it. Now, I’ll have to muster up those herculean levels of self-discipline again. Here’s my trick: if I think I want to eat a ‘bad’ food, I just mentally shut off the possibility of being able to eat it at all, think of it as rat poison (which it almost is, for me) and then there’s no longer an option and I can walk away from it.

Very sadly, tea is extremely high in salicylates. On the last two occasions when I had a cup of black tea, stomach pains and diahorrea quickly followed. Tea (including herbal) is definitely the thing I miss most on the no-salicylates regime! Ah… and I won’t have much time to finish my wonderful shincha before the expiry date of 19 July!

I wish there was more general awareness of multiple chemical sensitivities and food intolerances. Intolerances are different from allergies; as Sue Dengate says on the Food Intolerance Network,

Food allergy is an immunological reaction to food proteins.
Food intolerance is a pharmacological reaction (like the side effects of a drug) to the chemicals in foods.

Moreover, allergic reactions take place to the slightest amount of the allergen, but intolerances are dose-related and as mentioned above, also dependent on the total amount of stress the body is under at any one time.

I’ve had people in the past tell me I’m a hypochondriac or making a mountain out of a molehill. If only they saw the palm-sized hives and lips swollen to Donald-Duck proportions that refuse to recede for 24hrs, they wouldn’t be so incredulous. But of course, I don’t display my most-grotesque self in public and remain in hiding at home during such times.

Yoroshiku onegai shimasu, Yoshoku desu!

Continuing my theme of cross-cultural culinary interpretations is yoshoku (also here) — Japanese interpretations of western dishes such as korokke (croquettes), tonkatsu (deep-fried pork cutlets), hamubagu (hamburger), omuraisu (omelette rice) and kare raisu (curry rice — hmm, this sounds like a double-reinterpretation to me, curry brought to the west by British colonialism then adapted for Japanese tastes). You can also get a yoshoku recipe book produced for the English-language market.

There are a number of yoshoku restaurants in Singapore, and the latest and hottest location seems to be the new Central shopping mall above Clarke Quay MRT, which has Pasta de Waraku and Ma Maison (a yoshoku chain from Japan with Singapore branches at Bugis and Central, with an official website that’s only in Japanese, it seems very ‘authentic!). Read a Straits Times review article here. There’s also Yoshoku Kitchen, featured in this review article and reviewed here.

Chindian cuisine

Inspired by my last posting on ethnic-cosmopolitan food, I’m going to put up a few entries on recent (non-local) examples of cross-cultural culinary interpretations that can be found in Singapore. This is quite aside from our own well-established forms of hybrid cusines, for example Straits Chinese/ nonya cooking, as well as Eurasian food, which reveal diverse influences adapted over centuries of settlement in Malaya.

Although I know quite a few Singaporean and Malaysian individuals who are of mixed Indian and Chinese background (not to mention prominent personalities singer Jacintha Abishiganadan, comedian Gurmit Singh, and former national sprinter Mona Kunalan) or Chindian for short, Chinese-Indian cuisine is something quite different. It is Chinese food adapted by the Chinese community in India to suit Indian tastes. The Indian Wok restaurant serves this kind of food.

Interestingly, now we even get Chindian food (which originates in India) adapted for Singaporean tastebuds. I take it this means that Singaporeans, of whatever ethnic background (including Indian), have developed distinctive likes & dislikes. There’s a rich story of about the layering & meeting of diasporas – historical and contemporary – from different parts of world (with a strong dash of colonial influence) in there.

Here’s a Straits Times review article on Chindian food in Singapore, which lists various restaurants and has some photos. And below is a restaurant review from TODAY.

TODAY
17 Oct 06

CLASSY CHINESE WITH AN INDIAN TOUCH
———————————–
From Kolkata, a centuries-old cross-cultural marriage takes root at Indian Wok

Amy Van
food@newstoday.com.sg
Where: 699 East Coast Road
Telephone: 6448 2003
Opening Hours: 11am to 3pm; 6pm to 10.30pm Daily

When I first heard about the newly opened Indian Wok restaurant in East Coast, I was curious to find out what it has to offer. Despite its name,Indian Wok doesn’t actually serve Indian fare but Chinese food adapted to the Indian palate.

This elegant restaurant is owned by Kobian, the same folk behind Bombay
Cafe, a trendy vegetarian cafe in Katong. Restaurant director Prabhakar,
who was originally from Bangalore, was an executive chef at the Singapore
Expo for about six years before he joined hands with Kobian’s owners to
start Indian Wok.

For the menu, Prabhakar teamed up with chef Binod Rai, previously from
Kolkata’s The Oberoi, to recreate a host of Indian-Chinese dishes that are
extremely popular in India.

According to Prabhakar, Indian-Chinese cuisine originated from Kolkata
after a group of Hakka people left China and settled in eastern India,
where they set up small Chinese restaurants hundreds of years ago.

This group of ethnic Han Chinese grew to enjoy the local Indian spices and
eventually incorporated these ingredients into their traditional Chinese
dishes.

The menu features a good selection of seafood, chicken, noodles and rice
dishes. A fitting start to the meal is the fried crab claws ($15), which
are cooked in sweet chilli sauce and herbs, and served with a piquant lime
and chilli dip. The shell is removed, making it a lot easier to eat.

Another lip-smacking starter is the salt-and-pepper prawns ($20): Prawns
stir-fried in an aromatic combination of capsicum, garlic, freshly-ground
black pepper and spring onions.

A recommended speciality is the pomfret Havoli ($18), a simple dish of
fresh fish slices cooked with oyster sauce.

Other than seafood, the five-spiced chicken ($12) is also deliciously
addictive. Pieces of diced chicken are marinated with five spices,
battered and deep-fried till crispy.

I also loved the dry Gobi Manchurian ($10), or crispy cauliflower
fritters, tossed with chilli, garlic and spring onions.

The classic Chinese hot-and-sour soup ($8) is available, too. This version
is flavoured with chilli oil, vinegar and light soya sauce, and brimming
with chicken, mushrooms, bamboo shoot and spring onions.

If you need your regular dose of carbs, the Szechuan fried rice ($8) is
fragrant and nicely enlivened with Szechuan chilli sauce. For something
less spicy, aim for Hakka noodles ($8) tossed with capsicum, spring onions
and bean sprouts.

Round off your meal with the “sizzling brownie” ($12), a dessert that is
neither Chinese nor Indian. The chocolate treat with walnuts is served on
a hot plate with chocolate sauce and vanilla ice-cream. Children will love
this, but I personally root for the velvety masala-tea ice-cream ($8).

Overall, the meal was highly commendable, although a couple of dishes were
slightly over-salted. If that’s the case, do let the chefs know so the lev
el of spiciness and saltiness can be adjusted according to your
preference.

Indian Wok also offers a fine selection of wines to complement your meal.
Don’t forget to try the famous Thumbs Up, a fizzy soft drink that is a
perennial favourite in India.

How ‘ethnic’ becomes ‘cosmopolitan’

In Singapore, we talk about ‘race’, but things are rarely as simple as that. ‘Ethnicity’, a concept more culturally-intertwined that the biologically-defined idea of ‘race’, is more appropriate to acknowledge the huge diversity that exists in everyday life, the Singlish language, and the huge array of cuisines reflecting all sorts of regional variations with particular ‘racial’ categories.

I like this article because it addresses how unique ethnicities, originally packaged in distinctive boxes, can move towards a deeply rich form of cosmopolitanism, food being just one aspect. Hybridity isn’t necessarily a bad thing (without getting into an academic discussion of the distinction between ‘cosmopolitan’ and ‘hybrid’) and it happens all the time in Singapore – not just in food, but in the growing statistics of inter-ethnic marriages (12% in 2005). However, ‘cosmopolitan’ is cool by official decree, but ‘hybrid’ constantly fights the homogenising machinery of official categories: Chinese-Malay-Indian-Other.

This article has recently been published in many sources, under several different titles, including:
Straits Times (Singapore): “California’s cooking, and the flavours are global”
New America Media: “Diversity Feeds California Cuisine”
California magazine: “Where jalapeño meets star anise”
The Nation: “More Like it Hot”

The author, Andrew Lam, is an editor with New America Media and is the author of Perfume Dreams: Reflections On The Vietnamese Diaspora.

****************

by ANDREW LAM

My sister and I were strolling down Larkin Street in San Francisco recently when there wafted a pungent, salty aroma from an open window above. I was about to name the dish, but the couple walking ahead of us beat me to it. “Hmm, I smell fish sauce,” said a blond woman who looked to be in her mid 20s. “Yup,” agreed her male companion with tattoos on his arms. “It’s catfish in clay pot. With lots of pepper—and a little burnt.”

We had reasons to laugh. First, he was right on the nose. Second, when we first came to San Francisco from Vietnam more than three decades ago, my grandmother made that dish and our Irish neighbors complained about “a toxic smell.” Mortified, our family apologized and kept our windows closed whenever Grandma prepared some of her favorite recipes.

Many years passed. Grandma’s gone. But I’m confident that, if she were still here, she would appreciate knowing that what was once considered unsavory (or even toxic), and a reminder of how different my immigrant family once was, has become today’s classic. For in California, private culture has–like sidewalk stalls in Chinatown selling bok choys, string beans and bitter melons–a knack for spilling into the public domain, where it becomes a shared convention.

Or put it this way: The Californian palate had shifted along with the state’s demographic, where one in four is now an immigrant. At last count, Census 2000, there were 112 languages spoken in the Bay Area alone. On warm summer afternoons, Nob Hill, where I live, turns into the modern tower of Babel. The languages of the world–Chinese, French, Spanish, German, Russian, Thai, Japanese, Hindi, Vietnamese, and many more I do not recognize–echo from the street, accompanied by assorted cooking aromas. Within a four-block radius from my home, I can experience Thai, Singaporean, Spanish, Vietnamese, Moroccan, Indian, French, Mexican, Greek, Italian, and Japanese food—not to mention the regular fares at diners and seafood houses.

To live in California these days is to live in the crossroads of a global society and a global table. On April 2006 front page the San Francisco Chronicle declared: “America’s Mean Cuisine: More Like It Hot–from junk food to ethnic dishes, spicy flavors are the rage.” Californians were the first to give up blandness to savor the pungent lemongrass in our soup, and to develop that penchant for that tangy burnt of spicy chili. It came as no surprise to Californians that Cheez-Its came out with “Hot & Spicy” crackers flavored with Tabasco sauce and Kettle’s potato chips has that “Spicy Thai” flavor.

“There are 15.1 million more Hispanics living in the United States than there were 10 years ago, and 3.2 million more Asians and Pacific Islanders,” noted San Francisco’s newspaper of record. “And the foods of those countries—longtime favorites with Californians—are now the nation’s most popular.” Long before Webster acknowledged the word, globalization had already swept over California. Latin and Anglo America came to an epic collision here, then gold made the state famous around the world, and the rest of the world rushed in and created, perhaps for the first time, a prototypical global village. Since then layers upon layers of complexity–tastes, architecture, religions, animals, vegetables, fruits, stories, music, languages–have been piling onto the place, making it in many ways postmodern even before the rest of the world struggled to enter the modern era.

Andrea Nguyen, author of Into the Vietnamese Kitchen: Treasured Foodways, Modern Flavors, a truly authoritative book on Vietnamese cooking, declared from her Santa Cruz home that, “California cuisine is intrinsically ethnic.” El Cocinera Espanol, she noted, the first contemporary work on Mexican food in the state, was written a good 100 years ago by Encarnation Pinedo. Translated into English in 2005 by Dan Strehl, it is now aptly entitled Encarnation’s Kitchen: Recipes from Nineteenth-Century California. Nguyen, who remembered her mother packing an orange notebook full of recipes when they were airlifted out of Saigon in 1975, said Vietnamese food is hot these days. “In the Bay Area, you’ve got restaurants like the Slanted Door, Crustacean, Tamarind, and Bui leading the charge in terms of crossover restaurants.”

It was not always so. For first few years in America my family and I were terribly homesick. At dinnertime, my mother would say: “Guavas back home are ripened this time of year back at our farm,” or someone else would say, “I miss mangosteen so much,” and we would shake our heads and sigh. But then a friend, newly arrived to America gave my mother some seeds and plants. Soon mother’s small garden in the back yard was full of lemongrass, Thai basil, Vietnamese coriander and small red chilies. Soon, homesickness was placated by the fact that home was coming, slowly but surely, nearer to the golden shore.

Now imagine my mother’s garden spreading over a large swath of California’s farmland. Southeast Asian farmers, in the footsteps of last century Japanese and South Asian farmers before them, are growing large variety of vegetables in the Central Valley and trucking it to markets all over the state. Hmong, Filipino, Thai, Cambodian, Vietnamese, Koreans, Laotians, South Asian, Latin American farmers join the rest and sell everything from live chickens and seafood to Thai eggplants and edible amaranth to hyacinth beans and hairy gourds to oriental squash and winter melons and sugarcanes. I, for one, have learned not to underestimate the power of immigrants’ nostalgia. In the Golden State, it often has ways of becoming retroactive. So much longing for home recreates it in the new landscape. On a sunny day, a visit to the local farmer’s markets and there would be this oddly familiar fragrances and sounds that, were I to close my eyes, I could imagine myself back in my hometown in that verdant, fog filled plateau of Dalat, Vietnam.

But if California food is intrinsically ethnic, there is another element that is just as essential: the nature of its transgression. It is here that the jalapeno meets star anise and paired with a dry, smoky pinot. Or consider the avocado. Though not served in Japanese restaurants in Japan, it is otherwise as pertinent to Japanese cuisine in California as sunny skies are to the myth of California living.

“Foodies are very curious about exotic ingredients,” Andrea Nguyen said. “They’re more open to venturing into Asian markets to get the ‘authentic’ ingredients. They’re wanting to explore jujubes, mangosteens, green papaya. Ethnic markets, particular chains like Ranch 99 and Mi Pueblo, are leading the effort to make things easier for everyone. They offer a wide variety of products. But check the aisle, carefully, there are often Hispanic ingredients too at Asian markets, like tortillas.”

Take the sign that hangs on the Sun Hop Fat #1 Supermarket on East 12th Street, a few blocks south of Lake Merit in Oakland. It says, “American-Mexican-Chinese-Vietnamese-Thailand-Cambodia-Laos-Filipino-Oriental Food.” Some saw it as evidence of diversity gone bad, a multicultural mess–that is, too much mixing makes things unpalatable, all the colors blended turn inevitably an uncomely brown. I, on the other hand, see all those hyphens as complex bridges and crossroads that seek to marry otherwise far flung ideas, tastes and styles. After all, creativity is fertile when nourished in the loam of cultural diversity and cultivated with openness and a disposition for experimentation. In term of food, it results in an explosion of tasty concoctions. Consider some of today’s daring experiments: tofu burrito, hummus guacamole, spring rolls with salsa, lamb in tamarind sauce, lemongrass martini, wasabi bloody mary, crab cakes in mango sauce. The variety is endless.

In my lifetime here I have watched the pressure to move toward some generic, standardized melting-potted center deflate–transpose, in fact–to something quite its opposite, as the demography shifts toward a society in which there’s no discernible majority, no clear single center. Instead, the story I often see is one where one crosses, by various degrees, from ethic to cosmopolitanism by traversing those various hyphens that hang over the Hop Fat supermarket. One lives in an age of enormous options in an astounding diverse and fertile region where human restlessness and fabulous alchemical commingling are becoming increasingly the norm. One can’t help but learn to refine one’s taste buds accordingly to reconcile with the nuances of the world.

**********

Some graphics that have been used together with this article:

Straits Times
st_roca.jpg

California magazine
california_schumaker.jpg

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