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Petit gateaux from Les Deux Garçons… and something to chew on

6 Apr

French pastries are these delicate little things that sometimes look too good to eat. Recently I got to try out 3 petit gateaux from Les Deux Garçons in Bangsar and was quite eager to see what these pastries are so popular.

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Simple but pretty packaging.

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First up, La Duchesse (RM15). “A decadent piece with earl grey solid sponge, milk chocolate earl grey ganache, and earl grey mousseline“.

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I could definitely taste the Earl Grey. The slight bitterness of the tea and a hint of bergamot made a most interesting flavour.

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Le Favori (RM15). “An inspired combination of  pistachio and raspberry, the pistachio flavoured biscuit pâte à choux base sets the stage for delightfully contrasting layers of Sicilian pistachio and fine French Raspberry mousseline“.

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I like pistachios. The subtle nutty flavour here is complemented by the sourness of the raspberry. The different textures of the layers can be felt as I gently sunk my fork into the cake.

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And finally, Printemps (RM16). “Made up with Hazelnut and black sesame dacquoise, milk chocolate macha ganache, macha mousseline, and macha crumbles“.

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This is my favourite of the three. It’s got quite a strong green tea flavour, which surprised me somehow at first bite. The layers of soft, creamy mousseline, with the crunch of the crumbles and chewiness of the base make this a delightful treat.

So as I was savouring the cakes, a thought came into my mind. I thought of how the pastries reminded me of life (perhaps good desserts make one philosophical). I thought of how every kind of cake that is eaten comes to an end anyway, just like how our lives will come to an end. What sets them apart is what we put into these cakes. We can quickly whip up something with ready-made cake-mix and put them all in moulds and basically live a cookie-cutter life in a cookie-cutter world. Or we can patiently make these different layers and textures that add depth to the finished product, making it enjoyable and something you think fondly about. A more lasting effect.

So how can we make more lasting contributions and live a fuller life? Each one of us would probably have a different answer but for me, it’s in serving our fellow human beings. There is much we can do in our neighbourhoods to build the community. And by that I don’t mean just a provision of services, but really a coming together and empowering each and every member to serve as well.

I’ll end this post with a quote I like.

“Service to the friends is service to the Kingdom of God.” – Abdu’l-Baha

Whose Wedding is it Anyway?

5 Mar

I’m at the age where many of my friends are married or getting married. Having been recently married myself, I often have conversations with these couples about their wedding plans.

One of the questions I ask them is what is their vision of their wedding. Interestingly, most of these young people want small, simple, intimate weddings, focused on the spiritual nature of the event. More often than not, their parents expect a big event with lots of guests, because they want to invite so many people they know. And with so many people, the cost is bound to go up. And it stresses the couple out. So where do we draw the line between who gets to decide?

From outside the family, people say “It’s your wedding, you should be happy”. And really, they have only one wedding to make their own. However, understandably, our parents are happy too and want to share their joy with their friends. But do we need to spend so much to please others? This is possibly another erroneous assumption we make. We assume that if we don’t serve the guests certain food, or provide a classy enough venue or this and that they would not be happy. Which begs the question, whose wedding is it anyway?

When we remember that marriage is a spiritual institution, the coming together of two souls, and that the purpose of the wedding is to celebrate the marriage, all these things become secondary. Most important is that everyone is there because they are happy for you. Of course the wedding can still be lovely, with personal touches or expressions of creativity, but they serve to enhance the marriage itself.

To come to a common vision and work toward a common purpose, all relevant parties should come together to consult thoughtfully on the common good. Now this is easier for some families than others, but if we want to build a new culture it has to start somewhere.

So a few of my above-mentioned friends have gotten married while others are still in the planning stage, and most of them have had to give in to expectations and demands in some way or other but nevertheless making the most of it. One thing they tell me is that they pray when it comes to their children’s marriages, they will have the presence of mind to openly consult and offer their loving support.

Of family ties

4 Feb

Older-persons-hand-holding-a-cane

This post will be a bit more contemplative. I just got back from a weekend trip to Penang to visit a few elderly relatives. My grandaunt is in her 80s, and great grandaunt is in her 90s. As I just got married recently, I won’t be able to see them this Chinese New Year so my husband and I made a trip to see them earlier.

I’m not terribly close to them. But they are getting on in age and I thought it would be nice to see them since they were not able to make it for my wedding.

Great grandaunt was surprised we visited her. She has weathered in the past year. Her movements much slower, eyesight weaker, but she’s still sharp as a tack as she proceeded to update my husband on the family tree. The family is spread out across the world, and she spoke ruefully about how the ties are weakening and the family is breaking up, how we are not as close as before. She’s the last one in her generation left, and who knows what would happen after she’s gone. I think that the ties are as strong as they have been, it’s just that as the family branches out, they have their own brood to take care of, just like how the tips of tree branches are not directly joined together at the trunk, they grow out from smaller branches that grow out from bigger branches. We moved on to lighter topics, and finally had to leave for our next stop.

Grandaunt was happy that we visited. She lost track of time and didn’t even realise CNY is this coming week. She was glad, but there is a sadness in her eyes. A faraway look seemingly in search of a time when things were lighter and happier, a time taken for granted, a time that seems so far away from where she is now. She has four sisters. One is battling Alzheimer’s, one is in hospice care for a tumour, one is struggling to take care of her mentally-challenged grown up children, and another one is staying with her, resigned to lying in bed after a fall. I wonder what she thinks about in her moments of reflection. Would she be filled with hopelessness? Regret? Resignation? Whatever it may be, I hope we have brought a little light into her day, even if it’s just for a few hours.