This is one of those posts you’d decide to write upon the beginning of a year but knocked to the back of the pantry cabinet, only then to bring back out later – because you’ve finally worked out how to use it.
In this case, said ingredient was a pledge to myself. A new-year-resolution sort. A tangible component that was bought for the wild yet vague hopes and expectations dreamt upon it – even if, at the time, I didn’t have what it takes to do what I desired to do with it.
Well, folks, this is it: turns out I’ve been using it after all this time, and could only realise its output when I finally noticed the jar near empty.
And it’s time to refill it.
“This is the year of food for me” sprang from a self-affirmation: the role of gastronomy was, I promised myself, to transcend to a prominence in my life. With a new tablecloth and photo-posed dining set for added declarative effect.
Some abstract height that was, in hindsight. Especially when the extent of ambitious lied beyond a “eat more, cook more” generality.
The beginning of 2015 was the year I launched the startup project named The Ripple Movement, a collaboration of bloggers, writers, photographers and video-makers aiming to utilise the power of travel media and storytelling to raise awareness of social issues around the world. My independent endeavour within The Ripple Movement was an investigation of food anthropology: specifically, the origin tales of ingredients, how they signify and symbolise cuisines, and our society’s need to further understand the very things we consume.
Along the Food Trail, as I call the independent project, is meant for the public – but it was also meant to be a pinnacle of food knowledge for me.
Yet life’s priorities had a different plan for me.
As Founder and Project Leader of The Ripple Movement, I was more direly needed in the admin department of the overall venture. Takeaway bills accumulated. The kitchen languished in neglect. It was the time to be alive in my fridge as a mould colony.
Eventually, even elasticity must yield; I snapped one July week: the simmering fears of failure tipped over, that I no longer congratulated myself for what I’ve achieved but instead punished myself for what I failed to. The project had to be delayed – I had to re-find my self-worth.
I had to reconnect with that one part of me that compels passion, drives and have driven me to far fetches of this Earth – the rationality that brought me the vision of The Ripple Movement, because of the one subject I want to document.
The one I seemed to have lost touch with.
The title of this article ought to be changed: at present, “This has been the year of food for me – and it still is.”
Food has cooked me out from the depths of despair. Food has lent me definitions of beauty with five senses, altogether and separately. Food has propelled me to start a supper club, allowing me to convey my culinary expressions beyond words and visuality – as I joked to others, “I went back to food and went a bit too far into it.”
With it, a fundamental part of me reemerged; the storyteller in me could speak again, as I recount my travels over meals I enjoyed rather than rushed through, and commentate as I serve to my dinner guests the dishes I created and the anecdotes behind each conception. There was joy again in food, and satisfaction – and the insatiable curiosity to discover more and investigate the human tales behind ingredients, culinary innovations and challenges.
And now, reanimating it from dereliction, I’ve given The Travelling Editor: Eats, my canvas of gastronomic storytelling and voice, a complete facelift – since the storyteller has, at long last, returned home.
There’s no current greater pride or humility to reflect on the “year of food” so far than gazing into the near-empty jar: I dare say I’ve created marvellous things with its contents, even if they were conceived with no more grandiose an ambition than piecing together each dish alone. Yet every one of them filled me up – and as the saying goes, “you are what you eat”.
So welcome, again, to the brand-new manifestation of this platform – and that of whom is me.