OPPORTUNITIES, NOT OPPORTUNISM

OPPORTUNITIES, NOT OPPORTUNISM

When I think of cruising, what comes to mind is the opportunity to witness glorious sunsets, so huge they span the horizon and steal my breath away; the dipping sun flaring a vivid orange, the warmth of the day’s last rays magically traversing the divide to gently apply a farewell caress before bidding all a good evening – you know, those kinds of sunsets that can only be experienced out there in the open seas and never from any land-bound vantage point.   I am filled with anticipation of the opportunity to savour great food prepared by the ship’s expert chefs using the finest, freshest ingredients. For this is certainly one aspect of cruising that passengers look forward to: the wonderful meals served onboard cruise ships, from buffets to fine-dining cuisine restaurants.   I am excited by the opportunity to visit all the ports of call, to go to all these new places and see all the different things that these destinations hold in store. I am thrilled by the opportunity to meet fellow passengers, people from all walks of life and all over the world, and to share and listen to each unique story first hand, so that more than just a single journey on a particular cruise, I can be transported by new friends’ stories to their countries and delve into diverse experiences of lives’ times. Afterall, on a cruise, everyone has the time.   I am eager for the opportunity to just relax, be pampered by the fantastic service onboard, enjoy the shows, activities and all the entertainment that somebody else has worked hard to plan...
MORE TOMATOES, MORE LOVE

MORE TOMATOES, MORE LOVE

What does one make of a tomato? Not a big deal, I guess would be most people’s reaction. They won’t usually make you sit up and pay attention, unlike say, durians might. Tomatoes are just there, or not. I mean, if there are slices of tomato in my sandwich I’d eat them, but if there aren’t I normally wouldn’t miss them either. I do have to admit that I started paying more attention to tomatoes after I watched the movie Fried Green Tomatoes (1991). The movie is based on the novel Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café by Fannie Flag. The movie tells parallel stories of friendship and loyalty between women from different eras – the years between World Wars I and II and the 1980s. The big kicker in the movie was how one of the women’s abusive husband was murdered and then served as a delicious barbeque meal, which the Whistle Stop Café was popular for, to regular patrons and the investigating officer. In the end with no evidence against them, the women literally got away with murder. Fried green tomatoes as a dish only made a cameo appearance in the movie, if I remember correctly. But it intrigued me enough that there was even such a thing. And more so, that such an itsy-bitsy part or prop in the movie could be used as the movie’s title. I don’t know why it is, but I find these small things fascinating. In any case, the result is that I started paying more attention to tomatoes (oh boy, what’s going to happen when Star Wars: The...
A BITE OF ONION

A BITE OF ONION

Many years ago, I watched The Lost Boys (1987). I thought it was a great movie: a not-so-serious American vampire flick with the day’s cool actors, Kiefer Sutherland, etc and the good guys winning with style in the end. It was an era of what some might call “modern classics” of the genre – Fright Night (1985), An American Werewolf In London (1981) and so on. It was also kind of the decade of Star Wars (episodes IV to VI: 1977, 1980, 1983). Anyway, I’m no film historian or critic. I was just young and thought those were cool movies. Actually, I still do.   There was just a very short scene in The Lost Boys where the unexpected big hero, the mysterious and grumpy grandpa, bites into a whole raw onion as if it were an apple. I don’t know why it is, but 28 years on that image remains so vivid in my mind. Whenever I think of that movie it’s invariably the scene I visualise first.   Perhaps the thought of biting into a raw onion traumatised me more at that time than the possibility of vampires biting and feeding on people. Or it could be I was trying too hard to make sense of what eating an onion meant in the context of the movie, because unlike garlic it wouldn’t have anti-vampire properties. That character had presumably made a habit of eating whole raw onions, and not only that, he’d also known all along that the town they lived in was infested with vampires. What did it all mean? And how did onions connect all...
WHAT THE “WHO”?

WHAT THE “WHO”?

So last week, the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced that eating processed meats – sausages, bacon, ham, etc – causes colon cancer, and eating red meat “probably” does too. In support, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) said it’d found “sufficient evidence in humans that the consumption of processed meat causes colorectal cancer”. Processed meat was given a cancer-causing status equivalent to tobacco, alcohol, radioactive substances like plutonium, and outdoor air pollution. This made many people, particularly those from the meat industry, exclaim “What the who?!” To understand their concerns, let’s look at some numbers.   According to The North American Meat Institute (NAMI), the meat and poultry industry is the largest segment of US agriculture. Average meat consumption values show red meat and poultry accounting for 92% while the remaining 8% goes to fish. It also noted that Americans spend less on food, in particular meat and poultry, compared to people in other developed countries.   There are more than 6,200 meat and poultry slaughtering and processing plants in the US, which equates to about half a million jobs earning US$20 billion a year. If meat producers, suppliers, distributors, retailers and other associated industries were included, the figure balloons to over six million jobs earning US$200 billion annually. That’s a lot of people working and supporting themselves and their families. That’s also a lot of people who could feel threatened by such announcements from the WHO and the IARC.   According to NAMI, these companies and workers pay more than US$80 billion a year in tax revenues to federal, state and local governments. The meat and...