Curing Part 1: Most Normal People

It all started on Thursday. On Thursday, I met a couple of good friends over dinner. The original intention was to meet up at a Thai restaurant that just opened at the BSC. Unfortunately, it was closed due to a private function and the hostess for the evening, N, managed to get us a spot at Vineria IT.

After several inappropriate jokes of how the restaurant name reminded us of a disease no one would like to have: ‘Vinaaaayria, vinaaaayria,’ N said haplessly.

‘And the IT?’ Eizwan asked.

N had to pause for thought on that one.

‘Probably Italy.’ ‘Not, Information Technology?’

Took us a while to get over the name of the restaurant. Such class. That is what you get when you bring geeks to the table.

I rarely go out to eat Italian food, I cook most of it at home and my favourite Italian restaurant, ahem, is all the way in Johor Bahru, in a little known restaurant called Rosmarino, run by this Italian chef and his lovely wife. Nowhere in Malaysia have I eaten can compare to the homeliness and certainly, tastiness of this restaurant and hence why I never bother to go out and try.

At an Italian restaurant, usually I pick the food that I can’t cook or rarely make at home. This time round, I had my eye on the beef prosciutto.

Everytime you switch on AFC, chefs go on and on about prosciutto and I salivate each time I hear about it, crying a little bit inside knowing full well, I’ll never be able to taste it. And now, here I was this opportunity of trying something similar-ish, beef prosciutto aged 18 months.

When my, unfortunately, very small entrée arrived, I was more than pleased to see the papery thin slices of meat, ruby red. I loved how the meat melted in my mouth and how well it complimented the creamy, rich but not overtly so, Gorgonzola sauce.

At the end of the evening, my mind was abuzz with the thoughts of beef prosciutto. In my mind, I could not wait to taste it again (also in my mind, ways to wreak revenge on the husband for stealing on piece of precious prosciutto) and experiment with it. Would it go well with fruit? Wrapped around various meats?

Most normal people would then sigh to themselves and convince themselves to save up and eat at the same restaurant again. Or ask the restaurant where they can get a slice of the beef themselves. But at RM 32 a plate for 5 measly papery thin pieces, there must be a better way.

I spent the entire night, reading up prosciutto or it’s cousin, the air-dried cured beef bresaola. And then I thought, well, what if, what if, I were to cure my own meats? It can’t be that hard….can it?

Most normal people, as they say.

Diet Days: I Can’t Get No Satisfaction

Coming into the second week of my diet (or fourth week, depending on whose counting…or looking. Granted, most of the second week was thrown out the window because, hello, me, emotional eater got all emotional about a friend and decided to binge the week away) – I would have to say, I’m doing very well. My technique is very simple, nothing stupid, all very scientific. Having been a serial dieter all my life, I picked a very logical one that just suggested a lower calorie count that is within practical limits of the human body and one that encourages 5 portions of fruits a day.

Here is usually where I put in a very snarky joke about it all by saying, nah, I’m just starving myself to death – but no, for once, , I am rather serious about this weight loss thing. I’ve been calorie counting, buying and eating more fruits and I even have a food diary to jot down everything I eat. I don’t deny myself – I buy myself chocolates and I do eat ice-creams. I will have chips (or fries, depends on which continent you like) but in much smaller portions.

It also helps that I’m not alone in this one. My entire family (sans husband) has gone on a diet as well, making it much easier to calorie count and watch the fat intake. Bro has downloaded an app that tells us how many calories each item has outside before we got out for a meal. Mum modifies each meal to make it more low fat.

Husband is a fantastic cheerleader. I am, however, married to the human vacuum cleaner and despite inhaling food amounting twcie his body weight, Eizwan struggles not to lose weight. Yes, he is one of those people dieters love to hate. The ones who consume a Chillis burger and all the chips before washing it down with a coke with no sense of guilt. Heck, he’d have to worry that he’d lose weight if he just skips one meal a day. When a cousin of his commented that he seemed to have lost weight recently, I got overly sensitive. I am feeding my husband, okay?!

Ahem.

So, how is it going, you ask? Well. On a 1200 calorie diet, portions are smaller than what I’m used to – or then what I’d usually like. The five portions of fruit helps, each time I’m hungry, I eat apples, dried apricots and kiwi fruit. I drink more water, trying to get to that 8 glass of water a day and my skin is never better. I have clearer skin, and I actually look less tired compared to a more fatty and heavy diet.

There was a lovely bonus for me today. I tried on a shirt today and for the first time ever, I could comfortably fit into a size M (in Malaysia!!). It was still a little snug, but I was surprised that I could fit into it easily without having to wrestle into it onto the floor and causing the attendant outside to wonder if I brought in a rabid hyena with me. See, I don’t know if I have lost weight – I’m terrified of the weighing scale, it depresses me more than it actually helps, so seeing the change in body in the mirror, let’s just say I had a bit of smug smile all day.

But.

Dammit, what I really, really want right now though, midway through this diet, is to indulge in something ridiculous like a big fat juicy burger from Chillis, dripping with fat and salty chips, soft but not mushy inside, crispy outside and a large icy cold Coke. Or a large helping of lasagna, with all its gooey cheesy mess and meaty tomato sauce, paired with an indulgent appetizer like an artichoke dip. Something that makes you feel very guilty and very good inside. Something that makes the dopamine in your brain explode in ecstasy, going further and further before your brain switches off, almost to the point of revulsion but not quite.

It was certainly lovely that I’ve lost weight, even my mum has commented that I’ve lost weight. I told her all the benefits of going on this diet. I’m slimmer, healthier but am certainly, by no means, more satisfied.

It’s All Hannibal Lecter’s Fault

As of late, a kind of disquiet has taken over me. I used to pride myself to look at life in wonderment but as of late, the wonderment had diminished somewhat, only to be replaced by a mild irritation and frustration, a feeling that can be wisely summed up by the famous expression: “Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.”

Of course, when you look at life and you feel it’s dull, there’s only one solution short of emptying your savings account and going traveling around the world to find yourself and a new perspective in life (well, I may have done something like that, but more on that later) and at the risk of going Sesame Street on your ass, the only solution, as I was saying is…to read.

I used to be a ferocious reader. Really, I was very ferocious, I would bite people if they interrupted me whilst I was reading. But somehow, post school and university, the ferocity mellowed down quite a bit. Where once I used to carry a new book with me all the time – now, not so much. Heck, I sigh these days when people interrupt me as opposed to biting them.

But as I’ve mentioned before, the beginning of the new decade meant that we turn over a new leaf. I’m starting to read again. I want to broaden my horizons, my experience and open my mind…and beat Eizwan’s current reading scorecard. Ever since he started his new job, Eizwan had stopped driving to work and opted to commute instead. And during his commute, he reads, frequently finishing two to three books a week, whilst being squished by smelly and sweaty commuters.

And of course, everyone knows that it simply isn’t right he reads more than me. I AM THE SELF-PROFESSED (MYSTERY) WRITER. AND BITEY READER.

Yesterday was a public holiday. Usually, we spend our holidays lazing about in bed, thinking about doing chores and then not actually doing it, thinking about cooking an epic dinner and then getting lazy sometime before dinner and then going out to eat. So yes, we pretty much stare at the ceiling together during the holidays.

But yesterday was different. You see, my scheming thoughtful self wanted to beat Eizwan broaden my horizon and I announced to him that after we do all our chores, plan for an epic dinner, we are going to Kinokuniya KLCC to look for books after having lunch there. Little did he know, this was part of my plan of um, broadening my horizons

We finally headed off to KL around 3pm yesterday after well, thinking of doing chores and thinking of doing an epic dinner. I had looked up various mystery novels and some books that I could buy whilst I was there. Eizwan was thinking of buying some IT books and so off we went.

I love mysteries. Whilst most girls grew up reading romances, I used to throw myself into mysteries. I started with good old Nancy Drew before graduating to my favourite author ever, Agatha Christie. My aunt gave me her collection of Agatha Christies. I devoured the novels, Hercule Poirot quickly becoming my favourite detective and I was compelled to learn French so I could understand Poirot – he occasionally peppered his anecdotes in French and I felt like I was missing out when I did not understand.

I’ve grown to love police procedurals since then, not as big a fan of private detectives as I used to be. But I’ve noticed that mystery novels aren’t what they used to be. Someone on the radio commented that there are an awful lot of serial killers in the fictional world these days and I hate to say that is true. I picked up two novels recently – one, a forgettable mystery that involved some sort of insurance claim, and Henning Menkel’s Kurt Wallender series – and, despite adoring Inspector Kurt Wallender, the poor Swede who whined how hot it was at 23 degrees C, they both dealt with serial killers.

Serial killers don’t fascinate me. Strangers stalking and killing at random is never going to be as delicious as the death of a seemingly wonderful individual, of whom as you read further, lead a secret life, and everyone who claimed to love him or her, secretly hated him or her and wanted him or her dead.

Wonderful stuff.

I was looking for that yesterday – that kind of engaging plotting that makes you wonder, whodunnit? I identified a few and set off to look for it. Unfortunately, after trawling through they mystery section from A to Z, I couldn’t find the recommended stuff. I did not want to give up and not get a book after traveling so far, and therefore opted to look for the books that won the Golden Dagger awards.

But they all had serial killers.

I’m done with serial killers. Very much done with them. The last mystery novel I’ve read that did not have a serial killer was gosh, nearly three years ago, when my friend D lent me Michael Nava’s The Little Death, a gay mystery novel that was wonderfully gritty and I think Ruth Rendall’s novel. But while I really liked Michael Nava’s writing, Ruth Rendall didn’t do it for me and I’m left without an author to follow.

I was quite disappointed that the trip was for nought. Eizwan bought an intellectual book, Reza Aslan’s No god but God, on my recommendation (who in turn was influenced by Rae) just to make the trip worthwhile and then bought me macarons from Harrods to cheer me up. Although I suspect that it was less to cheer me up, but more to feed his addiction. I introduced Eizwan to chocolate macarons about a week ago, and since then, he still tears up at the memory of eating them and speaks of them daily, fondly.

Later that evening, at my parents, I browsed for book recs online. As I went through them, I found myself getting profoundly angry. Most of the new mystery novels featured online were about serial killers. First pet peeve. Second pet peeve. They were all written in first person perspective. I hate, hate first person perspective. I personally feel that it’s laziness on the author’s part as opposed to actually sitting down to write but that’s irrelevant if the story can be good. Third pet peeve, there are so many books with epic titles but the synopsis can be well-disappointing and so insular that the interest wanes. If the title suggest the bone breaking, please have something as gory inside as opposed to kids finding their way in life after their mum abandons them or something.

I tried to whine to my cousin and my brother about it – except it’s less whining than shouting over the new American Idol. In between youngsters and Steve Tyler wailing at the same time, I had to shout over my complaints. I thought no one was paying attention to me since the tired old American Idol was commanding more attention than moi – when my brother responded:

“It’s all Hannibal Lecter’s fault. Everyone wants to write an epic serial killer after him.”

Huh. Is it true? Certainly, in my mind – no other fictional criminal in any police procedurals commands as much fear and respect as Hannibal Lecter. And certainly, I can’t think of fava beans without associating it with brains (Though I can’t think of brains without associating it with zombies, but that’s another story for another time). And it is tempting to come up with a foil to your hero, the Moriarty to your Sherlock, the Master to your Doctor, your Voldemort to your Harry Potter etc. the last two aren’t even mystery novels.

Still, it’s a shame though – I would much prefer to find out what would motivate one to kill, finding out the secret lives that people lead. Later in the evening, I found these two books that I’m going to take a risk on: Bloody Women by Helen Fitzgerald, about a woman who is about to marry, and as she ties up loose ends, she finds all her exes have been murdered, and naturally, she is the prime suspect. The second is Shadowplay by Karen Campbell. The book caught my eye since it revolved around a female DCI and a violent crime. I love strong female protagonists, so that would be something to just try out.

The other two books I plan on buying: Freedom by Jonathan Franzen – this book has caused so many people to froth at their mouths, including a harrowing play-by-play by Rae as she reads the book on Twitter, so I must check it out. And The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas. I’ve heard about this book for a while, and I’ve heard how harrowing it is – so I have to wait till I’m mentally prepared enough to read. Books have a greater effect on me than movies and tv shows. It just sticks with you for a long, long time.

New Year’s Resolutions – I have ’em

As the New Year rolls around, the number of resolutions that you feverishly made the year before slowly drift away into nothingness, drifting into a no-space where they float around aimlessly before miraculously be pulled back to life sometime around 2012.

At least that is the case for me every year. Despite looking forward to 2011 with great optimism, if one can ignore the dead birds falling from the sky and dead fishes washing up at shore, I do realize that my resolutions this year are merely recycled from 2010 and *gasp horrors* 2009. Yes, I’ve reached that age that either I can’t be bothered to think up of a new resolution, or that since I haven’t achieved any of my resolutions from before, I just recycle it.

My 10 year old self would be so ashamed. Back then I prided on having a NEW resolution every year despite forgetting what the resolutions were by March. But I’m guessing, as a proper Asian child, I probably resolved to get all As in school or something.

This year, however, as the new optimistic person that I am, and wearing one of the many hats I wear in my life, I have decided to approach it as a consultant. Instead of having resolutions, I have mission statements and I will have strategic approaches on achieving said missions. On a monthly basis, I will have special meetings with myself to see if I met each activity timeline.  I shall give myself a nice bonus at the year if I meet all my key performance index.

Ah yes, I’m very much prepared this year.

So, all two of you reading my blog, what are they?

At the top of the list, it is finish my *insert many expletives* novel by June. I’ve actually finished it in 2009 and procrastinated in 2010 by getting married, setting up home instead of completing the re-writes. This year’s resolution is to actually get it done and then sending it off to literary agents. Unfortunately, there might be more whiny blog posts as a result.

Second on my list is to lose weight and be fitter. I’ve progressively lost weight since 2008 and am much slimmer since my time in the Corporate world. But after the bouts of illness last year, I really do feel it’s time to get my weight down to a healthy level once and for all. I’ve gone through a lot of ups and downs when it comes to weight loss, from binge dieting and resenting a stranger’s opinion on your weight (like seriously, I don’t comment how ugly you are, must you comment on my weight?) to finally deciding, am approaching thirty, I need to be healthy. A healthy weight means a healthy Adlina and that means no more rushing over to ER, to Doctors over and over again. Which reminds me, I need to schedule an appointment for a flu jab.

Third on my list, is to read more. I don’t have much time to read since I am very, very busy. But after last year’s mad dash around the Big Bad Wolf sale, I realized I missed reading terribly – and now that Eizwan has been reading like a fiend, going through most of MY books from MY bookshelves (I’m winning by the way) – I can’t lose out to him. I must read more. I don’t have a number in mind right now but it’s somewhere around the region of greater than zero.

And finally, to focus on being on entrepreneur. I’m not quite ready to openly discuss it here – but I really want to focus on the skills, the advice that I’ve given out to countless of clients and use it on myself for once. So watch this space!

Happy New Year everyone! And may your resolutions come through this year!