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An inordinate amount of time has passed since we left Raffles Junior College and I’ve been nursing the urge to revisit Ghim Moh and Holland Village for a while. I think it’s got a lot to do with having been away in London for the last two years and the indelible quarter-life crisis we’re all facing now.

So we got all nostalgic, pointing out the old food haunts that we ate at every single day when we were 17, mourning the joints that are no longer there. We talked and laughed about climbing school gates, the crazy things we used to do in our container classrooms, exceptionally goofy incidents that have (unfortunately for the perpetuators in question) gone down in history… But beneath it all, I felt a strange pang of sadness I couldn’t quite explain. It’s like a part of our lives that we desperately want to get back, a harkening to simpler days. But we can only look back at it all, in gentle retrospect, as best we can.

 

I must be more than a little demented. Last night it was absolutely freezing in M-City, especially since I just got back from Ottawa, but I just wanted froyo. I paid the dear price of not being able to feel my gums after that, but hey, we had cookie dough and PB chips in there!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Most (actually, all) of the Korean dinners I’ve had in this lifetime have been tame and civilized sit-down affairs. This totally changed last night, because T. Bazinga, my brother from another mother, came cruising back in town and brought his homies along for the ride! A-to-the-tezy, V-to-the-izzay!

On the less dramatizin’ side of things, I got to see G again, and the guy’s done so well with an amazing girlfriend (Hello T!) and also D, who at last granted me a 2/3 sincere smile (a vast improvement from the 1/3 smile I got in Tokyo). A year on, and these people I met at Kangaroo Hostel are pretty much still the same bunch of dudes knocking back pints of Sapporo on the bridge and hostel rooftop, all while attempting to shimmy to Nobody, Nobody but’choo!

Oh, but I hear the hot tune’s Taeyang’s Wedding Dress now, as Q and T.Bazinga quite unfortunately attempted to demonstrate for me on the car ride home.

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Walking from J‘s apartment on Rue St. Urbain down to Chinatown was way easier than I thought it would be. I pretty much walked into the world of rapidfire Cantonese, wok hei smells wafting in the air, bolo buns and Asian hairsalons. The nice thing about Chinatown – in London, Montreal, San Fran or anywhere else, really – is that for just a little while, I lose the geography and it just feels like a place where I belong, a place where I feel safe and where I know the food is pretty much made the same way as it is back home. The way my grandmothers do it – flavored with soy sauce, oomphed up with sesame oil and served with condiments in little white platters.

Excuse me while I have a tender, fobby moment.

Food is just food, no matter how you look at it. Not that that’s a bad thing; it isn’t. But a super flavorful bowl of galbi tang is just that: a super flavorful bowl of galbi tang.

Years from now, even the most mind-blowing of meals would probably trigger only a fond but extremely hazy thought; tastes and textures slip easily into vagueness. But years from now, it’s the people with whom I shared these meals who will still matter. I will remember that F‘s farewell meal was one partaken over spitfire Mandarin and plenty of belly laughs. I will remember that J had me walk 30 minutes to have the best galbi tang I’ve ever had and how I always seem to unearth one more fun fact about this guy every single time we meet.

Dinner table conversations and pillow talk. Oh, they’re one and the same.

My belly’s been pretty pampered these days, getting the royal treatment from sushi belts, a lot of Korean and let’s not forget an old favorite from yonks ago. I never say no to kimbap, seafood pancakes and of course, amazingly al’dente pappardelle tossed with a mushroom medley and white wine reduction. Now if only someone could hit me up with some suggestions on where I could get a good Portuguese vat ofΒ arroz de marisco in London, I might actually heave my proud chest up and belt out a grotesquely cloying version of “My Favorite Things” in between each hedonistic mouthful.

It’s been a long time since I had a Happy Meal (or any Maccas meal, for that matter) and even longer since I spent a Sunday at Camden Town. The crazy swirly things they hang everywhere that would suit only the most prepubescent of home decorators, the bursts of color that greet at every street corner, the living punk institutions who never fail to amaze me in the way they deftly interweave badass and girly, the bad waffles and malfunctioning chocolate fondue contraptions, the amazingly well-behaved pooches that trot alongside giant Aldo outlet paperbags and billowy harem pants, the culinary gems that pop up every five stores or, so surviving alongside busy food stalls promising every jumbled ethnic surprise imaginable (curried fried rice samosas, anyone?)…

Hello Camden. It’s been a while.

Our momentous post-disso first meal. Hiroba never lets me down and in turn, I offer it my loyalty, my bare gut, and my overused credit card. I swear I ate each morsel with the creepy ethereal reverence that might have also accompanied many a last meal of convicts on death row. That’s what a steady diet of only chinese takeout and Redbull for three whole weeks does to you.

I hardly ever make a dent on English breakfast platters. Yes, even with the vegetarian option and even with J putting away half of the mushrooms, most of the bubble and squeak and half a hashbrown for me.

I should just stick to chinese takeout when I want some stomach greasin’.