Thursday, 29 October 2015

days of being (in the) wild

my soul left hong kong two years ago but it still often comes up in conversation, usually with me saying 'yeah it was crazy' without further explanation followed by a credit length run of [uncomfortable laughter and/or short spasms] as the person i'm talking to tries to figure out if i'm sincere or deranged. tell me this isn't crazy:
  • working 48 hours straight, finally breaking down at 3am and hailing a cab home in tears. only to repeat the same thing the next publishing deadline. worst is when you try to find solace in others they will out-work you like 'well i worked 118 hours this week/haven't eaten since monday/fucked up a billion dollar sale' not even kidding.
  • hiking to the infinity pool in man cheung po, it was crazy/beautiful.
  • walking into a $$$ drug deal and the buyer pretending i was his friend so the dealer wouldn't murder me. juan de ablo (the fake name juan de ablo who clearly looked more like a 'dante' or 'levi' gave) probably wouldn't have murdered me because he also carried pizza deliveries on his vespa. people with vespas take you on romantic dates through the cobblestones of rome before convincing you to take the place of their singing collaborator at the italian music awards and despite what was sabotage, helps you actualise the confidence you have within.
  • going to all the concerts phoenix/jamesblake/justin bieber/every other musician who landed in hong kong because one of my greatest friends was always given free tickets by his superiors to compensate how little he was paid for his actual job.
  • being genuinely joyful and laughing on shoots with diane von fursteberg, olivier rousting, and other super inspirations i met.
  • allowing a girl i crossed paths with once to crash at my apartment for the night. she ended up staying for four days, taking my headphones and a few hundred dollars when she reluctantly left. months later police call in and i find out she's a homeless runaway amongst other things (terrible things) (terrible terrible terrible things).
  • have you ever been to mongkok on a saturday? 'yeah, crrrrrrrrazy.'
  • falling sick for three months.
  • spending several consecutive days on a yacht with a friend island hopping. it was like groundhog day, some days we picked up his acquaintances at central pier but would do the exact same things, visit the same places, eat the same food, at the same time. lots of writers and investors talking scripts and real estate, and when they didn't have anything else to say they would ask me if i have ever thought about dating someone the age of my dad and being able to travel wherever i want without financial worry. which prompted me to throw up overboard and give an answer at the same time.
  • rats and cockroaches everywhere/running over your feet most days.
  • being cyber bullied by a then 28-year-old kindergarten teacher who majored in psychology or something that makes you think she isn't bat shit insane. she thought i was 18/stealing her man/a regular at the tazman ballroom. i've never met her. i got messages from her through every channel on the internet. who cyber bullies someone 10 years younger than them? who cyber bullies aimee??? i pick up rubbish at the beach and eat rice??? i'm just a kid??? this experience was so traumatizing i couldn't stomach anything for days.
  • have you seen pictures of hong kong?
  • chilling with michelin star chefs and making food for them after they fed me some of the most amazing wonders on earth.
  • i was playing basketball (crazy!). i tripped (crazier!). my knee got hurt (crazy!). then infected (crazier!). i ended up going to hospital a week later, chauffeured in a maybach belonging to a stranger who heard from the restaurant table next to mine that my knee was purple and gold and starting to accumulate moss-like substance. he came after my friend and i as we left halfway through the meal, 'you should take my car' and signaled for his driver to pull up in front of us before disappearing behind the noren.
unless this happens to everyone and i'm just a wide-eyed country bumpkin who's simple and plain and loves Jesus and thinks this is crazy.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

moons ago

i saw before me people rushing left and right, putting one dish after another on a round table. i was sitting on my grandfather's bed, my coat was big and puffy and kept me upright even though i kind of wanted to lie down. my aunties and uncle would smile at me as they walked by. i would smile back. i couldn't help it—when they smiled their bodies sheened a gold light so beautiful, i was forced to react with joy.

after the meal my aunties and uncle took me to watch a movie. they were definitely young and irresponsible because we ended up in the theatre of a horror film. i couldn't take it and put myself to sleep instead. my aunt woke me up as everyone was exiting the cinema. my entourage discussed the film as i trailed behind them on the walk after. they wondered if i'll have nightmares, before all agreeing in good humour they'll probably be more affected than me. no traffic was on the street and we stopped to admire the sunlight in the middle of a five way intersection. they laughed when they saw me squinting as the sun shone directly in my eye, and formed a wall to block the rays. i looked up at them, backlit—is this the defining moment of my life? have i experienced all the love and beauty this world has to offer already? how do i remember this moment?

i knew one of my aunties had a camera with her, and asked her if i could take a photo of them. my aunty thought i wanted a photo, and told me to move two steps to my right. ugh. talking when you're two is exhausting. i ask again to take a photo of them. they discussed whether it was safe to let me hold the camera, before finally handing it to me. i looked through the view finder. they shouted encouragements as i waited for them to stop shouting encouragements.


they stopped moving.


one of my aunties smiled.


everyone else remained stoic.


Saturday, 3 October 2015

Sunday, 7 June 2015

world of 'wichcraft (firstlove #2)

My mum used to make me elaborate sandwiches for lunch in primary school. Multigrain rye with lettuce, alfalfa, cucumber, avocado and pickled relish. I would always throw it away because: 1. everyone else had sandwiches with spread only and would make fun of my lunch (now I know they were just basic bitches with basic sandwiches), 2. the cucumber would always get the bread soggy and 3. I was a dumbass kid who didn’t understand the value of food. Fast forward to now, having been forced into controlling the contents of my own sandwiches since those childhood days—I have come to grow, respect, and appreciate this labor of love and symbol of life.

Here’s a more objective look at sandwiches to bring you up to my plane:

1st Century B.C.
Hillel the Edler, a famous rabbi, has his name down on record next to the first recorded sandwich. He pioneered the custom of sandwiching a mixture of chopped nuts, apples, spices and wine between two matzos during Passover.

6th to 16th Century
Open-face sandwiches first made its appearance during the Middle Ages, where breads were used as plates. These stale, thick and coarse blocks called trenchers would absorb the juice, grease and sauces of other foods piled on top. Depending on one’s satisfaction, the trencher would be eaten, tossed to the dogs, or given as alms to the less fortunate.

The word ‘sandwich’ made it’s first written record in a journal on November 14, 1762 by English author, scholar and historian Edward Gibbons (1737 – 1794). He writes, ‘I dined at the Cocoa Tree... Twenty or thirty of the first men in the kingdom... supping at little tables... upon a bit of cold meat, or a Sandwich.’ John Montague (1718–1792), the Fourth Earl of Sandwich, whose refusal to get up for meals led him to ask his valet for salt beef tucked between two pieces of toasted bread. Being the Fourth Earl of Sandwich, he led others to order ‘the same as Sandwich’.

Englishwoman Elizabeth Leslie (1787-1858) introduced the sandwich to America in her cookbook, Directions for Cooker. The recipe was for a ham sandwich. ‘Ham Sandwiches: cut some thin slices of bread very neatly, having slightly buttered them; and, if you choose, spread on a very little mustard. Have ready some very thin slices of cold boiled ham, and lay one between two slices of bread. You may either roll them up, or lay them flat on the plates. They are used at supper or at luncheon.’

The American diet took a liking to the easy and portable meal. Bakeries started selling pre-sliced bread for customers to easily recreate the sandwich for school children and workers alike.

And here we are...

As we grow up we explore the world of sandwiches. In Gansu, China, many are partial to roujiamo (肉夹馍), where a wheat-based flatbread in the shape of a disc called bing, is sliced up and stuffed with chopped or minced lamb, coriander and pepper. Bing dates back to the Qin Dynasty (221 BC to 206 BC), making roujiamo a candidate for the world’s oldest sandwich (take that rabbi Hillel). In Australia, kids (myself included) all grow up big (5’10) and strong (I can do half a push up) thanks to Vegemite, a spread made from left over brewer’s yeast. It’s often eaten on toasted bread above a layer of butter or margarine. How the Vegemite fails many outside of Australia--is because y’all spread this pungent and salty concoction like Nutella. It’s not. It’s freaking leftover brewer’s yeast. I don’t know much about leftover brewer’s yeast you would eat but I would go easy on it. Vegemite with avocado or tomato and pepper makes regular appearances in teacher’s lounges and on the morning tea plates of those between 15 to 85. Through travelling and exploring, I’ve met the chip butty in England, the francesigna in Portugal, the doner kebab on every street corner at 3 a.m., a katsu-sando in Japan, the banh mi in Vietnam and arepas in the US, because I have yet to go to Venezuela. Through terrain, ocean and all forces of culture and nature, a sandwich is something almost all of us have in common, unless you’re low carb paleo, also known as: please check yourself.

People live sandwiches too. They make a living out of this and what a living it is. In New York City, my favorite food truck is The Cinnamon Snail. Their sandwich flavors extend to lemongrass five spice, maple custard, Korean BBQ, Thai BBQ, creole, and I’m only scratching the sourdough surface. Adam Sobel, the owner, has been spreading his sandwich love for five years now. What started as a place for ‘the craziest architecturally looking entrees’ has since turned into a lunch staple for those working on the busy island. ‘It soon became evident that people weren’t going to eat crazy entrees, especially not on a paper plate on their lap on a park bench.’ Adam muses while flipping tempeh on the grill, ‘it was also difficult creating crazy food within most people’s lunch budgets.’ A Cinnamon Snail sandwich sets you back $9, but the ethos of the business makes it a standout.

Another thing that made sense in a particular moment that I have since come to question, was my quest to make The FIRSTLOVE Sandwich—a combination of the most popular ingredients by my peers and fellow contributors (except for Daniel because he once called me a food snob). Of the twenty people I questioned on their sandwich preferences, I realised 1. I don’t know them at all and 2. Did I ever know them? My favorite sandwich is sweet potato and arugula. My must-have in any sandwich is the bitter greens, something to kick you in the face, keep you on your toes. Everyone else? Four people favored grilled cheese, another four declared their love for ‘turkey sandwiches’--I didn’t even know people consumed Turkey outside of forced family gatherings, and two Seattleites chose banh mi as the ultimate dream. Other favorites were caprese, gherkin, mustard, BLT, steak, roast beef, ‘I prefer bagels’, a cuban sandwich and chicken pesto. A number of people just sound like they are putting last night’s dinner between two slices of bread (my favorite dinner-in-bread is ‘last night’s spaghetti’), but that’s what sandwiches are all about, right? Everybody is able to make one.

Of all the sandwich responses, queen of beauty and burgers Anna Mishke, and fashion designer Enoch Ho’s devotedness to the Vietnamese banh mi sandwich really stood out to me which made me think the banh mi is a pretty damn sophisticated sandwich and punching way above the others.

Anna’s testimonial
The chewiness of the bread is essential. Banh mi has a freshness to it, the pickled vegetables and grilled meat or pâté lend such a different flavor than any other type of sandwich. Maybe I have some appreciation for it in my blood because I’m part Vietnamese, but there’s really nothing better than tucking into a slightly tangy, savory sandwich that ends up leaving a literal breadcrumb trail.

Enoch’s testimonial
The baguette, crispy at the shell but immediately soft, fluffily nestling the fillings. The pâté, strong and flavorful, followed by several layers of meat in different textures and chewiness. You’d think the sandwich is dry, but the buttery mayo sauce keeps the whole bite moist and aromatic. Just when you think it’s too heavy, you feel the cucumbers, daikon, coriander and spring onions cutting in for a clean finish. There’s not a single more complex but well-balanced food on earth, with so many different flavors and textures that blend so well together into a salivating journey. Now that I have tried pushing the banh mi as the deserved 1st place for sandwiches in a totally unbiased way, what are the must-have ingredients then? Six people’s must-have is cheese, five people reasoned the important of a baguette, two chose bacon, two chose mayonnaise, and one each for salmon (bagel girl), lettuce, tomato, pickles, salt and pepper.

And now, let me present to you the ultimate FIRSTLOVE sandwich (that you should make RIGHT NOW):



(published 2015)

In hindsight please don't make that *right now* or delay its production for as long as you can because it sounds like your basic cardiac arrest recipe *insert very distraught face* and I want y'all to live to see equality. Please learn about the meat and dairy industry before you consume any more of that.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

julia stone

a. julia stone is a babe.

b. the first season of #siliconvalley is worth binge watching (just ignore the male only cast and use of the only east asian character for broken english comic relief). the second season... *shrug emoji* eh.

c. you should check out the following #coolmusic:

raleigh ritchie

d. hazelnut butter and raspberry jam is worth shutting the front door for, whoever discovered peanut butter and jam stopped too soon.

e. is for elephant.

Friday, 15 May 2015

everything is embarrassing

south island

the light in new zealand is way harsher than new york, i overexposed three film rolls in a row. 

have you ever been in a deep asleep, only to wake up with the sun beaming through your windows? the light is blinding, and you take all morning to adjust?

Monday, 9 March 2015

sucre #3

thank you angela and sophie for the cover and interview. please purchase a copy to love and cherish forever.

this 'delicacy' issue is filled with talent and etherealness you want to leaf through for days. wow i sound like a saleswoman on a shopping channel but really i'm just a working bee on a honey farm owned by ray liotta.

Friday, 30 January 2015

winter blues

nora: i'm freezing today
me: maybe you need a bigger coat 
nora: no, i need more body fat

we found out we have mutual friends in europe, asia, america, south america, and australia. i think once you have lived in hong kong you are within two degrees of every person in this world.

and this...

me: how did you end up in new york city?
nora: it is actually a very long and dramatic story that not many people know of. at first i came here as a tourist and fell in love with the city from the first second. i went back to hong kong, packed all my life and decided to move here. my plan was to sign with an agency and 'make it' here. so i flew all the way with my most precious outfits and big dreams. after 15 hours flight, i got stopped at the border, was kept at the airport cell for 24 hours and sent back to hong kong and given a 10-year ban from the US. i still don't really understand the reason, but I guess i wasn't allowed to even be looking for work with a tourist visa. it was all very dramatic, but made me want to be here even more. i went through quite a lot, but finally still managed to get a visa. they will not get me out of here now.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Friday, 7 November 2014

south korea: school, suicide, surgery

(published 2012)

thank you emma (my favourite lead paragraph writer) for scanning this. we did this interview together in australia over skype (which is never recommended because the call may drop any time thanks to ancient broadband, plus my parents live in the bush). i really wanted to share this and the last interview with you. i would love to hear your thoughts and/or insights.