December 3, 2012

A celebration of friendship

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Tonight a small, privileged group of us gathered for a very special occasion.  My dear friend Susan Jung, the long-time food and wine editor of the South China Morning Post, has finally come out with her very own cookbook.  A Celebration of Food is a collection of 80 recipes, which are mostly from Susan's collected works published in the Post over the years.  However, there are also 20 recipes coming from well-known kitchens around Hong Kong, including those with Michelin stars such as Caprice, 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana, Fook Lam Moon, Cépage…etc., as well as places like On Lot 10.  In short, places that keep coming up over and over here in my diary.

I was introduced to Susan by a mutual friend back around the time she first took up her job at SCMP, after leaving her previous profession as a pastry chef.  That's a pretty long friendship, I have to say.  There were years when we didn't see each other much, but somehow we'd manage to find each other through mutual friends.  Over the last few years, I have been particularly blessed as I spent increasingly more time enjoying both her company as well as the delicious cooking.

She has been instrumental in establishing my street cred in the local food and wine circle.  More than a decade ago, she gave me my first 15 seconds of fame when she wrote about my then-modest wine collection, published in the SCMP on December 31, 2000.

Years later, as I got a little more serious with this here diary, she discovered it by accident and realized she knew the author.  It was then that she provided me with my second 15 seconds of fame by giving coverage to the blog in the SCMP.

Over the next couple of years, I found myself quoted in several articles in the SCMP, as one of her interviewees for articles on specific topics.  It was during this time that I was famously quoted as saying that "I'm not a very good cook" - the work of some overzealous editing staff while Susan herself was on holiday.  Of course, her editing staff was absolutely right.  I am not a very good cook - I've been known to burn my food, overcook my food

I was also privileged to have been the first interviewee when the SCMP launched their "Ask the Foodie" column last year.  Gradually the increased exposure from the press meant that more food and wine lovers were discovering the little diary that I keep online.

Together with a small circle of friends, we share a common passion for food.  Those in our circle love food of all types, cuisines, price range… We are willing to eat together anytime, anywhere, and try anything.  None of this "I can't, this makes me fat / too much carbs / too much cholesterol…" business. We're fussy eaters, but we always enjoy our food and each other's company.  We cook for each other (well, they cook for me…) and bring each other goodies from around the world whenever we travel.  I trade Susan's homemade jars of jam with jars of Christine Ferber/Pierre Hermé from France or Red On Tree from Taiwan.

Over the years I've had the privilege of having quite a few dishes featured in the cookbook: Thai-style chicken wings, Vietnamese fried spring rolls, choucroute, and of course her kouign amanns and financiers.  I feel very excited about the publication of this cookbook, because it now means that more people are able to get a taste of what I was lucky enough to have, by following Susan's recipes at home.

Some of the crew had a sneak peek at the collection of recipes, and were making estimates of the percentage of recipes they thought I was capable of following…  Well, here's the verdict straight from the horse's mouth…

I would like to congratulate my friend Susan for her labor of love, which I now hold in my hands and is something I shall cherish for years to come.  Thank you for being my friend throughout all these years.  Now let's go eat.

1 comment:

Razlan said...

I love the candid way this post is written! It's a pity that I have yet to meet Susan despite working in the same company.


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