Rotis and curry, soup rice noodles, fried egg noodles, coconut rice, curry noodles - the sheer variety of packed flavours and textures in various Asian breakfasts make the “English” and “American” breakfasts seem somewhat one dimensional. I’ve discussed with Asian tourists their sheer disbelief at British breakfasts.
What you haven’t experienced or haven’t met can be hard to fathom. The complexities of the durian fruit defies simple words. Many Asians will glibly end up saying “Ai-Ya ‘they’ don’t know how to eat that” ! That’s always sounded odd to my ear. Eating it is easy to know, pick it up, put it in your mouth, chew and swallow. Appreciating the complex flavours, that’s the part that many seem to fail at.
Writers have a long history attempting to reconcile the universal and the particular, the global and the local. As cultural philosopher Appiah has suggested “universality plus difference”.
Lazy writing ignores studied observation and fails to make imaginative leaps. Poor characterisation does similar by ignoring the complex humanity that underlies our lives. Unauthentic work doesn’t comprehend the variety of Asian breakfasts, let alone the depth of the Asian culture and people. Then again it is hard to fathom what you haven’t met or haven’t experienced.
Everyone’s grannies in the universal are extraordinary. They are complex and nuanced in the local. Mine brought up 5 children. She sewed, she cooked, she upholstered, she hustled - an entrepreneur before we thought of entrepreneurs - cooking feasts for local embassies, making cakes for occasions - pineapple tarts were a favourite - she wore a gold belt which was traded up and down in size as her personal savings and investment account. She came to help look after me when I was young. She had this exaggerated sniff of you, which you couldn’t escape from, and she held your scent like she had the measure of you, now and always. Complex, fierce, funny. Far from bacon and eggs and a cup of tea.