Tobin must have walked about 5km from Marina Bay to my house in downtown Singapore. I didn't ask how he chose his route or what motivated him for a stroll under such a humid afternoon in the tropic. Seeing the big professional looking camera he’s had with him, I hope he’d found his way over to me with enjoyment and that he captured many interesting perspectives where one would otherwise not be able to find in a taxi ride.
It was a Friday afternoon that felt like a Sunday. Quiet and seemingly empty street. I greeted Tobin and served him a glass of cold water, and from then on we moved very quickly to a chilled Tourrainne from la Loire. It was a business talk and catching up on news in general, but somehow the relaxed environment led to a rather bonding conversation and I somehow felt I was getting to know him better as a person. Through talking about what we eat.
I know that Tobin adores tomatoes though he probably didn’t know that I think I love tomatoes more than anyone else I’d ever met. Secretly I still think I am crazy for tomatoes more than anyone else on earth - that I can’t even begin to describe - but Tobin had come close to provoke my belief. He’d have to challenge a fundamentalist like me on this claim.
He loves his boiled egg in the morning; not crazy for dairies, not so much on starch or carb, and definitely no to sweet taste. He loves his fish and good meat. He loves food that has clean, fresh taste, uncomplicated cooking method and dislikes heavy sauces. He appears to be an easy audience to me. He’s also very enthusiastic with spices and exotic flavours. And he hates any form or specie of squid, cuttlefish, sotong, octopus or calamari!
It’s never intentional but it’s in my nature to be observant of anyone’s ‘food personality’. I feel I could spot types of herbs that would be of great match to Tobin’s preferred type of fish, or I feel when it’s the time I reckon he might be in the mood for a big-deal fuzzy crackling pork.
Don’t ask me how: it’s all in the mind, eyes and fingers that usually led me. Just the same way I’d fail to articulate the precise amount of salt I should put in his salad; a cocktail from the shades and grades of soya and oil for a one and only, and yet light, dressing. I think I guessed it right on what he would find it appealing – through how he looked at food.
Tobin used to say to me at the beginning when we first met that I must not try to impress him with (elaborated) food in ‘fine restaurants’. He’s right, but he’s also wrong. I am such a stubborn soul but I am even more so when it comes to food. ‘You don’t know me’, I responded to him in my mind.
I wouldn’t be sorry for any food that I share with others because all I share is from my best. I wouldn’t be apologetic for any plain simple food I serve because to me that’s the best. I wouldn’t be apologetic for serving a boiled egg.