I burst into tears earlier. I was fine and then I was suddenly overcome with emotion and before I could gather myself back together, the tears were rolling down my face. Fortunately, I was alone and at home at the time and it’s not like I burst into tears for no apparent reason regularly, but it occurred to me that this past year has been defined by the tears that I’ve cried.
Firstly, and right at the beginning of the year, my dear old Mother passed away. It goes without saying that there was (and still is) a massive void in my life but she had a good innings, so whilst she deteriorated quite rapidly in the final week of her life, I’m quite grateful that she didn’t suffer too much at the end. Obviously there were a lot of tears at the time (and there have been many more since), but the Chinese way of showing your grief in a huge output of emotion during the funeral helps with the grieving process.
Even towards the end of the year where my family and I went back to the Ancestral Family home back in Kut O and guided her spirit back to the ancestral Family Temple, there were yet again, more tears but the ceremony was beautifully simple (and mercifully short), and we all left the Village with a sense of pride knowing that Mum would have been so thrilled we were all there together for her and the peaceful feeling that her spirit was with us that day watching over us.
During the summer, the tears didn’t stop during the magnificent Olympics and Paralympics; I cried nearly every time Team GB or Paralympics GB won a medal, I still cry at the various montages that are played on TV now. And who can honestly say they weren’t affected by the slow-mo short of Gemma Gibbons looking to the heavens and you clearly see her mouth the words “Love you Mum” after winning her judo match? I swear, even if my Mother was still alive, I would be crying. I mean, if you’re not even the slightest bit affected by that, you need to check yourself for a pulse. I cried during the Opening and Closing Ceremonies for both the Olympics and Paralympics, and there wasn’t a day in between that didn’t have me crying at some point, and I’m not ashamed to admit it!¬
But it wasn’t just about crying and tears for me this year. In terms of food, I had a few significant meals and experiences this past year – A trip to Singapore and Seoul where the food was incredibly fantastic and changed how I perceive food in some ways, my trip to Hong Kong is always an eye opener, I made it to Copenhagen where I not only got to eat at Noma, but also fell in love with the City and in particular, with the food and atmosphere at Relæ. I found yet more Sushi excellence in Londinium at Sushi Tetsu and am still excited and eager for a return trip to Hedone whenever I went back (although I sacrificed the opportunity to eat grouse at Hedone on one occasion in order to share a crappy buffet lunch with some Olympic rowers instead).
I got to get out of Birmingham a fair bit this year – I’ve already mentioned the Cities and places above, but I also got to head to Cambridge and eat at the very brilliant Fitzbillies, and also to Seasalter where I was wooed by the simple, yet effective cooking at The Sportsman. I had a really brilliant time at Grillstock supporting the Backyard Brummies and was thrilled to see street food being given more prominence in Birmingham, courtesy of the Digbeth Dining Society which culminated in Digmas – But we still need to get the word out to the general public that street food has moved on from the boiled tinned hot dogs from our youth and there are some genuinely good street food traders out there now.
It was also very gratifying and pleasing to see Tom Baker from Loaf finally settle down in a shop and establish a premises for his bakery and cookery school rather than letting everyone invade his home as he previously did. Watching Loaf enterprises grow, expand and become even more of a success has been one of the highlights of 2012 for me.
Then there have been the places in Birmingham which have opened up and/or I’ve discovered in the past year; Minmin Noodle Bar quickly established itself as a firm favourite and have remained there ever since, The Claire Hutchings Pop Up (actually, I’ve been to 2 in the past year), have been a real joy and so nice to see some home-grown talent develop blossom. In terms of dim sum, it was sad to see Golden Pond close but still good to see my family favourite Chung Ying do so well.
I’ve not really cooked so much in the past year as a consequence and it’s a bit challenging to cook for 1 all the time without having tonnes of leftovers and ending up eating the same food for 3 days as a result. For a long time, I couldn’t actually be bothered to cook anything, but I’m slowly getting my cooking mojo back (along with the baking mojo), so I should be cooking a bit more in the forthcoming year – I’m already planning my Chinese New Year meal.
I’m quite sure that I will be in tears at some point on New Year’s Eve (and in the first 2 weeks of 2013 as I inevitably think about how it’s been a year since the Mothership passed away). I’ve just had a really brilliant Christmas (despite only having the 1 day off), but I was surrounded by my family and as I particularly discovered during my trip to SE Asia in the Autumn; to be surrounded by your loved ones (either physically or keeping in touch by any form of communication possible) or friends, eating good food and having a good time is all I need
Happy New Year – I look forward to sharing more food experiences with you all in 2013.