NICHOLAS CHIN Ming FenG, 12
The definition of ‘home food’ has evolved three times since the project has been conceptualised with Nicholas Chin Ming Feng. The thoughtful and eloquent individual 12-year-old eventually chose to feature his ‘second home’ Tak Takut Kids Club, a community children centre located near his apartment.
Have a listen to Nicholas's reflection in this journey of documenting his second home or read on in the transcript below.
Tak Takut Kids Club Staff: Amanda, Cheryl and Megan
Dish of Choice:
Riceballs and bruschetta
Shiyun: When I first invited you to do the project, I was thinking of getting you to take photographs of how you eat every day, like your tapao (takeaway) food. Then it somehow evolved into "maybe we could do a home transformation of your kitchen", which you didn't want to. Finally, you suggested that let's do something at TTKC (Tak Takut Kids Club).
Nicholas: Yes, yes, I did. My tapao process was I usually do that every day, so why not? And then when you brought up the fact that it could be just like something that you do at home, I don't think I was prepared.
Shiyun: You were not prepared?
Nicholas: Yeah. To even like acknowledge the fact that I have a kitchen. So, I guess I mostly spend my time here at TTKC anyway, so why not just do something.
Shiyun: Yeah, I was very pleasantly surprised actually. And I was quite touched also that you chose TTKC as a place to feature, you know, for a project that says, this is what I eat at home.
Nicholas: I consider many things around my home, but TTKC is one, like the second one, I guess.
Shiyun: So the first home is your home, home.
Shiyun: Then there is TTKC, and the clock tower playground is where you sleep.
Shiyun: Do you have other places where you call home?
Nicholas: Many. There are many places I can sleep, so thankfully every day, everywhere would be my home at that point.
Shiyun: How would you define a home?
Nicholas: Somewhere cozy where it feels safe. And where you don't starve.
Shiyun: You mentioned that rice balls are your nostalgia food.
Nicholas: Surprisingly, yes. Aside from chicken rice, which I always say now and every now and then...
Shiyun: Chicken Rice is also your nostalgia food. Yeah. The one that you buy from Boon Lay market.
Nicholas: Yes. Yes.
Shiyun: So can I say nostalgia food means something you remember from childhood?
Nicholas: And the flavor is still there somehow.
Shiyun: Let's talk about the... what's the other food called?
Shiyun: Yeah. What, what, what is that? What's the origin of that word?
Nicholas: Italian. Ah-huh. It's from Italian.
Nicholas: It's basically like a bread with a bunch of stuff on top, like tomato sauce, cheese, some meat like ham, or salami or something.
Shiyun: The sandwich thing is something that I remember you very fondly of because, when you first started cooking at TTKC, you would be using the sandwich maker and dancing along making tuna sandwich. I think I missed that. We should do that once again... what do you think about having a community kitchen for children, like the one that we have in TTKC.
Nicholas: Let's just say. It's just where people who are like me, who don't really have an idea to cook or don't really have money to buy anything, to just, you know, don't starve. (The situation is) pretty unfortunate, but can still work with it. Which is pretty nice to think about. So basically it's that place where everybody can actually, not starve and they can actually care for everyone else as well. Aside from themselves.
Shiyun: Yeah. So that day we had food that you guys made and Auntie Elizabeth (resident, mother of fellow TTKC member) brought fried rice. Uncle Francis (resident, volunteer) brought his...
Nicholas: Chicken Bak Ku Teh.
Shiyun: Or you can call it a chickuteh! (laughs) and, and I don't know, I don't think it's him (Uncle Francis). Somebody else brought jackfruit and, and then Anna brought oranges.
Nicholas: How many oranges are we gonna have from Anna (volunteer)?
Shiyun: I don't know?
Nicholas: We have like thousands at this point.
Shiyun: Is it?
Nicholas: Probably, we have like probably a hundred.
Shiyun: Megan (programme manager of 3Pumpkins-TTKC) was saying that our TTKC fridge is like this magic well, you know. Whenever you open, there's always like new fruits.
Nicholas: At least something.
Shiyun: This is a blessing. Yeah.