As I sat on my kitchen table,
staring back at a blinking cursor on a blank page,
I had no idea where to start.
And then I thought I would start from the beginning; me.
Hi, my name is June. I promise you the next post will be about food.
I spent a lot of years in my 20’s trying to figure out what I would like to do with my life, like everyone else. I remember back when I was a kid, I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up. I wanted to help people learn things and share what I know. As I got older, social expectation has inevitably crept in; certain careers just seem more respectable in terms of money and social acceptance. That was why I studied an Engineering degree, and while I took away from that the skills to methodically solve problems, deep down I knew I didn’t want to become an Engineer. So I escaped and did a Masters in Management, which somewhat came more naturally to me, and plus I didn’t have to cry when I studied for exams. I was totally convinced that if I got a job in a certain field, if I go on a certain career path, my life would sort itself out and I would be set. But it didn’t.
I’m now in my early 30’s and in the last eight years or so, I clocked up a lot of mileage traveling. I started off in Europe as my first trip and to this day, I will never forget the feeling I had when I landed in Rome; just me, myself, and I. It was exhilarating. From then, on separate trips, I have gone to the Middle East, to North Africa, to North, Central and South America, and to parts of Asia. I got to see the world, ate different food, learned different languages (only at the survival level but still, it’s always good to know you’re ordering a chicken skewer, not a guinea pig on a stick), and I met many amazing people; some of whom are still my friends until today. In the last few years I slowly came to accept that maybe, just maybe, what I like to do doesn’t NEED to be what I think I should. All the office jobs made me ill. I miss making things and then seeing the final product (and eating it too if I could).
I was born in Thailand, the land of smiles and glorious food. At fourteen years of age I was sent to Christchurch, a beautiful little town in the south island of New Zealand, to study English and I stayed on for another fourteen years. I now call both Bangkok and Christchurch my home. In Thailand, I grew up with simple and tasty food. My great-grandparents on my dad’s side are from China and for that, I grew up with amazing stir-fried dishes at home. I remember being bewildered at my kiwi friends talking about how much they don’t like cauliflowers or brussel sprouts. I love them. But then I grew up eating them stir-fried with strips of succulent pork, drenched in garlic, soy sauce, and oyster sauce; meanwhile my friends grew up eating them boiled until the end colour didn’t resemble what the original colour was. I didn’t realise until much later in life that I grew up with amazing, amazing food.
I have a lot of interests in life. I was a curious child. I always wanted to be everything when I grew up. Once I wanted to be the lady who sells ready-made meals in the market; how they can beautifully put food into a plastic bag and tie it with a rubber band with air inside so it sits up perfectly. I wanted to be able to do that. I remember begging my mum to buy me a bag of plastic bags and a bag of rubber bands, and I would practice after school putting wet sand into a plastic bag (pretending it’s a curry or something) and trying to tie it, allowing enough air inside so it would look just like those made in the market. I was young. The money aspect didn’t matter. The social expectation didn’t matter. What matter was what I truly enjoyed doing and I lost sight of how important that is.
I was a shit cook in my mid teen. Really bad. I once tried to impress my friend, who I had a crush on for ages, with a dish that was supposed to be tasty and comforting, and it turned out like someone has vomited on the plate with cooked lettuce (no one should cook lettuce…a very important lesson I learned). I knew it wasn’t good because I know what good food tastes like. And that is my secret weapon, one which has helped me to get better and to grow as a cook. Knowing when food tastes bad is half the battle.
Two things in life make me overwhelmed with excitement and produce a genuine fear that I won’t get to complete all I want to do before I die; learning all the piano pieces that I love; and travelling the world to see amazing sites and eat great food (cooking comes much later). All my other interests come and go but these two somehow keep finding their way back to me.
This blog has been a long time coming. It is my first step in accepting who I am and what I enjoy doing. I hope this will be an outlet for me to explore my love for food; for travel; and for my childhood passion of wanting to share with people how to make things, of being a teacher and a student at the same time. I have traveled to many countries, ate a fair share of different food (probably ate YOUR share of food too), and I hope you can learn something from me, as I hope to learn something from you. I hope it will be mutually beneficial. I hope in time this will develop into something I can do for a living, somehow, involving food. I’m still finding my feet. I’m still finding my way. And I thank you for being my audience.