Watermelon & Feta Salad
So 2011 has been pretty significant… after years of contemplating I finally decided to leave London to be closer to family and embark on a new chapter of my life. Perhaps it was the ‘I’m turning 30’ freak out kicking in as well! London was where I discovered my passion for food – the beauty of ingredients, the joy of veggies & farmers markets, relishing in the simplicity of basic flavors (i.e. not drowning your food in sauces and spices!), and basically wholesome, healthy eating.
I was initially excited to come back home to a city that thrives on a 24-hour food culture, where delicious meals are being prepared every where you look, and where the question ‘have you eaten’ replaces the standard ‘hello, how are you?’. I thought ‘how nice to meet new people and start a conversation around food rather than discuss the weather conditions.’
To my surprise, on a food level, coming back to KL has been a slight culture shock.Yes I have visited KL once every two years and eaten my much missed Malaysian food to my heart’s content. However, coming back home on a more permanent basis forced the acceptance that it is hard to eat Malaysian food daily and still be a healthy. I was slightly disturbed by the reliance on chain restaurants, the open acceptance to fast food, MSG!!!, and the exorbitant prices for good, imaginative food at restaurants and to buy the ingredients I loved.
These realisations (along with other big life questions) discouraged me from food for a couple of months. I lost my passion for cooking and basically stopped being inspired to try new recipes and new food in general. I pretty much lived off cereal from end of June to August. Then one day my boxes from London arrived and I stumbled across Ottolenghi’s ‘Plenty’. Flipping through the pages and being embraced by the familiar, gorgeously mouth-watering photography reminded me of what I loved most about cooking – the experimentation, seasonality, and making the best of what ingredients you have available. ‘Plenty’ also re-ignited my spark. The book was actually a gift from my lovely colleagues at piglobal. They knew Tasha = passionate and obsessed with food and food photography, so they treated me at the quaint Books for Cooks store on Portobello Road. The perfect present for a foodie. I got the lovely ‘Plenty, an eye-opening workshop on Lebanese cooking and a beautiful farewell card designed as a cook book with my food pictures! Classic! I thought to myself ‘see this is what defines me so well that everyone who truly knows me, knows that I love the magic of food.’ So I of all people should clearly know this about myself.
Then and there, at around 8pm, I stopped unpacking and decided to try out Ottolenghi’s simple Watermelon and Feta Salad. This recipe imbues the concept of seasonality, particularly in KL where our tropical weather means that watermelons are a plenty (and dirt cheap!). The only slight splurge was perhaps the feta cheese. Thinking that watermelon and cheese is a strange combination? Well, there never has been anything so right together. And with this simple summer salad, I can safely say I’ve found my mojo back.
Watermelon & Feta Salad
Watermelon, basil, feta, balsamic vinegar, olive oil
There really is not that much work involved. Just cut the watermelon into triangles, crumble feta, and drizzle balsamic vinegar and olive oil.