We Are What You Eat

I love it when a book leads you to read another book, like how Northanger Abbey introduced me to The Mysteries of Udolpho.

When a fictional character reads, I need to know what they’re reading and I don’t think much of authors who don’t mention the title of the book their protagonist is enjoying (or not). Isn’t that a missed opportunity to reveal something about the character?

But then this post wasn’t supposed to be about books. I was actually thinking about podcasts.

I listen to shows about how all kinds of subjects, but my main areas of interest are books, art, race, gender and body politics. Often, the guests on these shows have podcasts of their own and that keeps my list growing.

One of my regular listens is Bitchmedia’s podcast, which incorporates Popoganda (45 minutes of in-depth exploration of various topics) and Backtalk (conversation about pop culture news). A recent episode of Popoganda introduced me to Soleil Ho, a chef who co-hosts my new favourite podcast, Racist Sandwich.

racist sandwich

Racist Sandwich focuses on food and how it  relates to gender, race and class. I’ve been listening to random episodes, and topics discussed by Ho and her co-host, Zahir Janmohamed have, so far, included eating disorders; the politics of food photography; and lifestyle veganism vs political veganism.

I’m liking how the podcast is making me think about food and food culture in ways I’ve never considered before. For example, how, in food photography, Asian food (or any kind of food that is not European or Western) is presented and framed: it is often dressed up; it is exoticised; it is shown in a way that is aimed to be most appealing to white audiences, and this usually misrepresents the food, its history and even its appearance.

Ho is also a writer. You can follow her on tumblr, and she also writes for Bitch Media and Taste (an online food magazine).

Something About My Name

This morning I listened to the recent BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour episode about first names.

I’ve always been interested in the meanings and origins of names. And I like knowing how people get their names, or choose their children’s names. I was nearly named Diana, but my uncle’s then-wife protested, saying it sounded like the name of a ‘working’ girl. Apparently Malaysian women who worked in bars in the 60s (they were referred to as bar girls) were called Suzie, Maggie, Lucy, Alice, Diana etc. (my great grandmother was called Lucy, and my grandmother Alice – I don’t know what my uncle’s then-wife had to say about that!). I don’t like Diana, but it’s not for that reason. I just don’t like the way it sounds and I can’t imagine being a Diana. I don’t, in my opinion, seem like a Diana; or look like one. Do I look like a Daphne?

Daphne du Maurier: This picture reminds me of my mother who was a smoker and often cooked with a cigarette hanging from the corner of her mouth.

Daphne was chosen as my name because my uncle’s then-wife, my mother and her sisters had all read and liked Daphne du Maurier’s novels. I don’t know if my father had any say. I believe he chose my Chinese name because he was the one who could read and write Chinese. However, my sisters and I have very ordinary Chinese names. They are the Janes and Jills of Chinese names: Mei Choo, Mei Chan, Mei Mei and Mei Lin.Read More »

Top Ten Nothing

I won’t be participating in the Top Ten Tuesday meme every week, but only when I feel I have a Top Ten I want to list, Like, duhh. Why force a meme, right?

MostlyLit_33000-1In other news, I listened to the Mostly Lit podcast today while making lunch and was highly irritated by the hosts, Alex and Derek (there is a third host called Reckless Rai, a woman, but she was absent on this episode in which they talk about bell hooks with Imrie from the Melanin Millennials podcast). Then I found out they are 20-something-year-old men bois. This explains a lot, including probably why they’d never heard of The Unbearable Lightness of Being (one of them was reading the book but didn’t know the film, the other hadn’t heard of either). On the other hand, perhaps I’m expecting too much of people who claim to be readers. Don’t know. Alex (far left) is quite dishy though.

P.S. For obvious reasons, I didn’t like how Alex, Derek and Imrie dismissed all Nigerians as ‘really rude’. Really, how can you say an entire people are whatever it is you’ve decided they are? All Nigerians? Unfortunately, there was no one to ask them what they meant by such a sweeping statement.


The Mystery of Tutu

This morning I listened to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on BBC Radio 4’s Cultural Exchange programme (in which creative minds choose their favourite cultural work) and learnt about Ben Ewonwu, the Nigerian artist ( 1917 – 1994). Adichie spoke about Ewonwu’s painting Tutu, of a Yoruba princess. The original painting has been missing for years, but when Adichie was growing up in Nnusuka, in South-east Nigeria, a print of the work was in practically every middle-class Nigerian household. It is still on the wall of her parents’ home.

‘Tutu’ by Ben Ewonwu

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Real Heroes


I’ve been listening to Sofie Hagen‘s Made of Human Podcast (MoHPOD) for a while now. I like her so much. She’s lovable and funny, in a low-key, absolutely-not-obnoxious kinda way (I wonder what she is like when performing. Will I ever find out 😦 )

Was listening to episode 23 of the podcast (in which she interviews Mae Martin) today and liked what Mae said about self care and how she positively molly coddles (not her words) herself every single day. It made me happy to hear about someone not pushing themselves, but just easing into their day, every day: ‘Have a bath. Read a book for an hour etc’ (her words, more or less).

I’ve had to do that of late. My anxiety levels are crazy and are set off by the littlest, silliest things. Like, just five minutes ago, my daughter was looking for and couldn’t find something totally unimportant and I could feel my ears turning red and the start of palpitations. Like WTF. Anyway, I have had to practise a hell of a lot of self care. I sleep a lot. I read what I want. I lie in bed and ignore deadlines, within reason. It sometimes makes me feel guilty that I need to do these things to function. Listening to Sofie and Mae talk about being kind to themselves made me feel better about it.

What I most love about Sofie: She is fat and frank and positive (but real) about being fat (like she’s not 100% positive, which would just be not believable at all, but she is dealing with it positively, has an awesome life, is awesome, talks about her struggles and fears, and also her triumphs, is sexy and has sex – I mean, these are important things. Fat girls need to know that they can have an awesome life including have sex). She was what I needed at sixteen. And I still need her now at forty-nine.

Sofie and Jessamyn (stolen from Sofie’s Instagram)

The other person I now look to for inspiration and comfort: Jessamyn Stanley. Who needs Lena Dunham or Amy Schummer? Fuck them, I have my real heroes, Jessamyn and Sofie. Follow them on Instagram: Jessamyn & Sofie.

Stolen from Jessamyn’s website. She gives me hope that I might do yoga one day.