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Friday, 26 December 2014


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Nice post.

We have a pre-Wigilia tradition of every person putting their best effort to saying "Wesolych Swiat" - on the video cam, while displaying the ornament bearing those words. It has yielded some pretty comical variations. (Even having grown up with Polish-speaking parents, I find that particular combination of sounds a bit tricky to make. )

You're a lucky man to have such a family, Mike! And that table shot is a veritable instant classic. Really a fabulous image, every element is perfect -- the drapes, the sweater, the postures, the lighting, the lens position. Oy!

I spent Christmas laid-up with a terrible cold, trying to keep it from advancing to bigger ground. But that was (is) fine, too.

Sounds like a good time was had by all Mike. Ours was a good one too. These days, with the two Grandmas in thier early 90's, it's us bringing the fixin's to Grandma K's house Christmas Eve, to prep there for all, and dinner on Christmas Day at Grandma P's retirement home.
All that attended hope to be lucky enough to retire to such an elegant place, should we reach that state in life. Here's a link to one from that location - Fuji X-T1 Classic Chrome:

For me, the photographic delight was gifts of the Steidl printed - Saul Leiter two volume set: Early Black&White and my daughters find of a small 14 page booklet (?) of Ray K. Metzker: Earthly Delights from the Lawrence Miller Gallery.

I had an obstacle course to thread this year: gluten-free brother-in-law, three vegetarians, two "pescatarians", one lactose-intolerant brother, a mother-in-law with a milk allergy and one picky eater (my nine year-old) for a total of 12, plus a babe in arms. Briefly considered putting a pitcher of water in the middle of the table and calling it good. But I couldn't resist the challenge. The menu:

Baked side of salmon w/(optional) Greek yoghurt-garlic-cucumber-dill sauce
Sauteed chickpeas w/sesame oil
Saffron risotto
Roasted brussel sprouts w/garlic
Beets roasted in balsamic vinegar w/goat cheese
Sauteed chard
Mac&cheese for the kids (just in case)
Almond/coconut cake (no wheat)
my grandma's applesauce cake
whipped cream on the side.

All fed, all happy, a good Christmas dinner was had by all. And let me just outright brag: the food was just awesome. Nothing burnt, and out of the corner of my eye I saw folks taking thirds. Nothing could make me happier. Four hours to make. 40 minutes to consume. So how about it RFC? What's the traditional (or non-traditional) Christmas meal for your and yours?

It was a very merry Christmas.

The first years of Mum & Dad's (quite young) marriage were spent on a RAAF posting to Malaysia. From Mum's extremely parochial origins it gave her a love of Malaysia and forever influenced her culinary practice, a long way from the classic Australian "meat-and-three-veg". So I grew up with a few staples of Malaysian origin at a time when all my friends were eating lamb chops with carrot, peas and mash. Lucky me. My food preference has emigrated to Thailand (though it holidays everywhere), but I know its origin was my parents' long ago posting to Butterworth.

By the way, your first photo is precisely the kind of photo I endeavour to take at social occasions (with the often satisfied hope that it puts me a little outside the event, a calmative to the rising panic of social anxiety). Your second photo is magically comical, again a my-kind-of-photo image.

Both of them are utterly delightful (and inspirational for me).

Happy holidays and merry Christmas and may the new year bring you, or encourage you to achieve, what you need for contentment.

My family has Malaysian roots (both my parents were born there) and we visit fairly regularly (I fly very frequently through Malaysia from France).

I'd just like to add that your menu looks very, very tasty!

Hope you had a great christmas!


So Mike, what about the Polish food?
An egg broth with mushrooms (can't remember the name)
Kielbasa or Kieshka?
When we lived in Switzerland we made pierogi with potato and Gruyere cheese - haven't gone back to the traditional since then!
How much Vodka?

Merry Christmas, Mike. Just a quibble about the map of Malaysia on the cover of the program, what that shows is actually East Malaysia. Malaysia is actually in two parts: West Malaysia, which is a peninsula off the Isthmus of Kra (belonging to Thailand), and East Malaysia, which consists of the pink area of the Island of Borneo demarcated in your map (I hail from the southern of the two states shown there, Sarawak).

Your menu looks great though, except for the pavlova.

Maybe you know, maybe you do not know. There is one country that is called Malaysia. But there are two parts. West Malaysia and East Malaysia. On your Malaysian Christmas Dinner card only the east part is shown. And that I think is wrong. Not saying anything wrong about East Malaysia, but for food you have to be in Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia on West Malaysia. Malaysian food, Asian food or even European food, this is the place to be.
And next to visiting restaurants there is a lot to take pictures of in Malaysia. Very nice country with very nice people.

I love love love those two photos. They look (at least, on web-viewed JPGs) like B&W film photos from another era.

That picture of the table and light needs to be a print sale.

You have a quite cosmopolitan family. What happens to the people who only want turkey, ham and mash potatoes? : )

As has been pointed out, Borneo island actually only has one country, Brunei. Two out of 13 Malaysian states are there and four out of 33 Indonesian provinces. It is a bit like having a USA theme dinner and showing a map of Alaska. Sarawak, and to some extent Sabah, are actually quite different from the mainland Malaysia, both in food and in many other ways. I suppose in the same way as Alaska, or Hawaii, are quite different from Texas or Florida.

Sorry, I know this isn't a forum, but just for the record: Kuala Lumpur is not the place "you have to be" for good food in Malaysia. The food is great in lots of places, particularly in the old Straits settlements (Penang and Melaka), and, in my opinionated opinion, a couple towns in E. Malaysia too, notably Kuching and Kota Kinabalu, in Sarawak and Sabah respectively.

More to the point, these are all wonderful places for photography. Sabah in particular offers some photo ops that are as true to the old SE Asia of lore as anywhere in the region.

I like the tones in the black and white photos. Perhaps you could tell your readers about how you convert to black and white. Thanks and Happy New Year. Jeff

Just a point in relation to Malaysia: pork would appeal to the substantial ethnically Chinese minority, but not to the majority Malays, who are Muslims.

Right. That Magritte-like picture needs proper circulation. Back story matters not a whit; the lamp-headedness wins.

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