"There is still no cure for the common birthday."
On the eve of Cheryl's birthday a couple of weeks ago, I snuck out of my house on the pretext of going for my evening exercise, and bought a large slice of chocolate fudge cake and some tealights. I hid the goods just outside of our apartment and proceeded to repeat my nightly failure to put my 4-month-old to bed. Seriously, why is it so hard to put babies to sleep? What is the evolutionary advantage of forcing parents to spend almost an hour carrying their infants till they finally doze off? I used to keep a pair of hamster and at one point, the doe (which I named Pixie) had a litter of pups. They looked like blind, pink, wriggling jelly babies and I don't think Pixie needed to put each individual pup to sleep by rocking them in her paws and singing nursery rhymes to them. She did escape shortly after having the litter and they all died from hunger, but that's beside the point. My point is, why are human babies so helpless that they can't even fall asleep without someone chauffeuring them there?
Anyway, it was customary for Cheryl to roll her eyes at me and sigh after each time I fail before swooping in to save the
|A similar setup is used by sorcerers to commune with demons.|
She emerged shortly out of our bedroom after Darwin was finally persuaded to shed his consciousness and saw the cake and candles almost instantly. I mouthed "Surprise" at her because in our house, no one must make any sound above 30 decibels after Darwin hits his tiny sack. I also whisper-sang her her birthday song because, well, she deserves it. No one works harder than her in our little nuclear family of five (we have two cats). Everything you have ever heard about how difficult babies are is not only true but grossly understated. Heck, I've performed some surgeries that are easier than putting Darwin to sleep.
The next day, which is Cheryl's birthday proper, the family sans cats went to Bla Bla Bla - one of our favourite restaurants in Kuching. The Lunar New Year is nigh and they have put up seasonal decorations i.e. lots of red lanterns.
|Birthday girl and her baby boy.|
|Cheryl letting Darwin have a whiff of pickled papaya.|
Bla Bla Bla is a sister restaurant to The Junk. Cheryl had her last meal from the latter before she fasted for her Caesarean so in a way, the tiramisu and the prawn capellini she had was the last meal Darwin had through his umbilical cord.
Our absolutely favourite dish from Bla Bla Bla has to be their crispy manicai, a dish I believe is a unique creation of theirs which can be found nowhere else.
|Once you pop...|
Manicai (also called star gooseberry, sweetleaf or cangkuk manis in Malay) is a pretty common table fare hereabouts - but once fried to crisps and topped with chicken floss (肉鬆), they are alchemically transformed into the most addictive appetiser known to man. We just can't get enough of it!
Another one of our house favourites is their baked cheese sugarcane chicken, which is a hard dish to eat politely.
|It was better presented when it arrived. I broke open the cheesy shell before photographing it.|
The chicken itself is great - tender, juicy and sinfully cheesy - but what really elevates this dish is its accompanying sugarcane bits. Of course, we are expected to stick them in our mouths and chew to get at their sweet sugary juice, and no one can look well-mannered doing it. Then, when we are done with them, we have to remove the inedible fibrous husks from our gob and dispose them in our plates. This is definitely not something you should order on a first date, delicious as it might be. Unless you are dating a cow, of course.
In the middle of dinner, Darwin presented his madre with a birthday present he made himself - in his diaper. If I have to say one thing about the kid, it's that he has impeccable comedic timing. So, we were forced to rush him back home for immediate sewage management. Strangely, none of us felt like having any desserts before we left.
k0k s3n w4i