The prevailing entries for the 2018 Fay Khoo Award for Food and Drink Writing could not be extra different from every different.
Cheah Soon Seng’s The Banker’s Dinner sits us down for a meal at that loved local icon, the mamak stall, whilst Dipika Mukherjee’s Paet Puja: How Malaysian-Bengalis Worship The Stomach transports us right into a whirlwind of culture, historical past and meals.
The winners were introduced on the George Town Literary Festival in Penang in November 2018, with Cheah prevailing the Personal Narrative category and Dipika, the Reportage class.
This is the second edition of the Fay Khoo Award, which become set up in tribute to the reminiscence of author, meals critic, publisher and TV/radio persona Fay Khoo. It aims to inspire and develop excellence in foods and drinks writing, as well as realize new voices from Asean. (The 0.33 edition has issued a call for entries; see details under.)
“Writing has constantly been a interest, however this was the primary time I determined to throw my hat into the hoop and participate in a proper contest,” says Cheah, 33, who works in enterprise finance in Kuala Lumpur.
“I become really amazed to also be shortlisted, let alone win. It’s the first time that I’ve acquired recognition for my writing, that’s indeed an exciting enjoy.”
We caught up with each winners quickly after the announcement to discover what they reflect onconsideration on food and drinks writing.
For Cheah, it’s far essential the writing conveys the emotions one studies whilst having a meal.
It is going with out announcing that his triumphing submission on having a meal at a mamak stall after a long day’s work is inspired via his observations for the duration of his common journeys there. In fact, maximum of the writing was completed whilst he changed into proper inside the thick of factors, amid the overdue-night time chatter and clatter of dishes.
“It made it easier to gain concept and references, no longer to mention a geared up supply of food if hunger pangs struck even as I was writing.
“I had a very fun time crafting this piece! I hope readers might be able to experience and perceive with the tale, as well as develop to comprehend the splendor in the mundane,” he says.
While Cheah writes for pleasure, Mukherjee is a posted writer with several titles to her name.
The preliminary concept for her entry turned into a bit on ikan bilis (anchovies) and how she learnt to take pleasure in them best very past due in lifestyles, as she had grown up in a Brahmin family wherein “smelly foods”, inclusive of garlic and onions, had been notion disgusting.
But that concept was discarded in favour of Pujobari meals and the connection with deeper Bengali spiritual traditions.
“The subject matter forced itself onto the web page! Pujobari in Port Dickson looms big over the Malaysian-Bengali recognition and this essay took over that on ikan bilis and wrote itself.
“I cherished scripting this piece because it added alive reminiscences of bonding and laughter over a loved cuisine,” she says.
Mukherjee has written approximately Pujobari traditions and the sense of network among Bengalis in her fiction before, drastically in her debut novel, Ode To Broken Things.
“I wish that Malaysians will examine more about Bengali delicacies and our religious traditions by using reading Paet Puja: How Bengalis Worship The Stomach.
“We are a small network and regularly burdened with the more seen Sikh community, and our cuisine continues to be in large part unknown. Bengali cuisine is both diffused and addictive … you have to try it to understand what I mean!” she says.