I’m Asian. Food has always mattered to me.
Born and bred in on the food-Mecca that is Penang Island in Malaysia, my life’s journey has brought me far. Far away from my culinary roots of South East Asia, that is. Nearly 40 years on and 3 continents later, I am now blessed to call Cape Town home. Arguably the most beautiful city in the world, this is a city of breathless superlatives where nature comes to a crescendo of epic mountains and mighty oceans. Cape Town crowns the foot of Africa and the Continent certainly knows how to put her best foot forward!
In culinary terms though, Cape Town sadly leaves an Asian palette left wanting and is a far cry from the spicy delights of my childhood in Asia and the cosmopolitan dining opportunities of London. When I arrived in South Africa back in 2000 I found myself facing a dearth of authentic Asian ingredients and eateries. I was confronted with a dire choice that all expat Asians fear: learn to live without the food you love or learn to cook it yourself! I decided on the latter which, in hindsight, was surprising as I had never really considered myself a serious cook, but rather a prolific eater. It seems remarkable to me now that I chose to make cooking such a huge part of my life, but I guess the thought of losing my culinary heritage was a powerful motivator. So I learnt to replicate the dishes that I longed for, I made dishes I never knew existed and ultimately did so with what few ingredients I could muddle together.
A decade or so later, Cape Town is thankfully no longer the culinary backwater that I washed up on all those years ago. As local tastes have expanded, so has the market for foreign ingredients. Supermarkets now stock more than one soya sauce and ginger is no longer considered exotic! Cape Town, culinarily speaking you have come far…as have I.
So after many years of sharing pictures of my food on Facebook, I realised that many of my childhood friends were in the same predicament as me – half a world away from the food they love and so I started The Muddled Pantry. Born out of a passion for the food I love to eat, feed and share, The Muddled Pantry is about satisfying a global palette with limited ingredients.
After all, your geographical location should never dictate what you are having for dinner!