Since the day The Hundred-Foot Journey trailer premiered, I’ve resoluted to watch it by hook or by crook and when it was shown at Odeon all over UK, I somehow missed the chance to catch it! Given that the cinema is only 4 minutes walk from my place is not an excuse either.
Since I got home early today, I pre-heat my dinner I made yesterday and watched it for two hours.
Deep in the recesses of my brain, I somehow knew there has to be a reason why I didn’t see this movie when I should’ve – I wouldn’t have been ready for a tsunami filled with nostalgia crashing over me. That much I knew.
I was flooded by memories of long forgotten person in my life and the moment I saw Om Puri playing as Hassan’s father, I’m immediately reminded of my late granpa. Of whom I only spent 6 years knowing.
The essence of Om Puri’s character struck a chord in me and the floodgate opened like there’s no tomorrow. I haven’t missed him in the last 10 years and suddenly today, I’m back to being heartbroken again. A decade ago, I wrote my first ever monologue dedicated to him and read it out loud in class. A monologue meant as a closure after his 13 years absence. And then, I pushed it so far back in my mind, I don’t have that attachment memories to him as much as I did.
I feel somewhat guilty after realising it now. The first person I was thankful for existing in my life (no matter how short it was) who embraced me for me. My granpa who didn’t have qualms getting his little grand daughter her very first train set, a string aeroplane and entertained me with car rides to meet his friends, inviting me to sit outside of the petrol station to keep him company selling newspapers while my late granma attended the cash counter in Penang. That was how I remembered my early childhood of me and my grandparents from different culture, ethnicity, countries and at one point, religion too.
Part of the reason why I have this constant battle being different is because in Malaysia, you’re in one of this boxes to tick – Malay, Chinese, Indian or Others. My fucking problem (pardon my French) is that, I’m all four, for god sake. I’m not just one or the other. On face value, many Malaysians will say to you that they are not racist by nature (sure..) but when it comes to cursing or making comments, you can find every derogatory words describing one or the other so offensive, it makes me wonder what does being racist truly meant to them?
There is a point to this post about The Hundred-Foot Journey.
The scene above is the most powerful in the movie for me. It captures what Asian values are about, especially when it comes to the food they present. It’s this family equation that makes their food so rich and captivating.
Sure, there’s a reason why Michelin awarded restaurants exist for a reason and they do make good food. The amount of insanity they put in to create a dish to look so delicate, refined and complex yet simple is commendable. It might justify the price we pay to dine in as well and I’m all for the theatrical elements in fine dining cuisine but watching this movie reminded me why food is part of my life. Part of me.
If you’ve known me long enough, you would know that I’ve got this sick obsession with (good) food and more often than not, Asian food ranks the highest for me. Malaysian food is ace for me because we have chinese, indian, malay, thai and every other cuisines mixed into the pot. The only problem with Malaysia, like most things – we don’t know how to market ourselves and own it. It pisses me off a lot of the times but oh well, that’s Malaysia.
There is a line in the movie when Hassan repeated what Marguerite said when they were picnicking,
“Food is memories”.
That’s spot on for me, like I was hit by a lightning. It got me thinking about my memories of people with food and for my granma, it would be her winter melon and ham choy soups. One time when I was sick for about a year, she flew all the way to take care of me and I would remember going to the pot every time to have a peek, to see if I could have another bowl. My mum on the other hand, while isn’t the best cook but there’s one particular dish I love from her and always look forward with a plate of hot rice – fried assam fish. I remember the briyani I tend to eat with my granpa back then but I don’t think I was old enough to remember the food he cooked (many people told me of his infamous dishes). I have more people I go to for a specific type of food they do very well and it’s what makes me feel connected to them.
Food to me is not just food. It’s the hard labour of love consisted of blood, sweat and tears when cooking up a storm for a family. It’s that essential ingredient that makes what you eat heaven in your mouth. That’s where I put my money mostly. The smallest, corner shop making home-cooked meals. Yep.
There’s just something about food and me that’s inseparable. Sometimes sickening but more often than not, I find joy when I discover a new eatery worth my tummy singing.
Btw, this is my second post for today, a first since a decade ago (when my first blog was set up, I used to blog daily, sometimes twice or thrice a day) :) I guess, I just need to get it out about missing my granpa.