Friday, March 21, 2008
Touching Clown Girl and Mashed Banana Fritters
It all started with the film Fight Club, which is based on the book by Chuck Palahniuk. My good friends and I saw the film two or three times at the cinema and on video. I read the book and enjoyed it, too. Then the other books by Mr Palahniuk, an Oregonian former car mechanic, beckoned and I read and savoured all of them over a couple of years.
The author attended a writers' group when he was still a struggling writer. One of the writers was Monica Drake, someone he kindly wrote a very generous introduction for in her recent first novel, Clown Girl, after he became famous.
Ms Drake's book is published by Hawthorne Books, which produces large-format paperbacks with a difference -- they have fold-in covers that work as built-in bookmarks as well. (I would recommend looking for Clown Girl and other Hawthorne-published books online at The Book Depository as the company delivers without charging for postage and handling. You can find other titles published by Hawthorne at www.hawthornebooks.com.)
Clown Girl made me laugh and cry. It is about a young woman called Nita who has artistic clown ambitions. She rents a room with her boyfriend Rex, nude-model-cum-fellow-artist-clown, in her ex-boyfriend's house in a dodgy part of Baloneytown. Rex is away in a big city purportedly auditioning for clown college.
Nita hardly eats and suffers from some ailment. A nice police officer saves her during one of her fainting spells. While she has to collect enough of her urine output over 24 hours for a medical test, she needs to earn a living as a corporate clown. In the meantime, a bossy clown colleague tries to engage her in questionable one-on-one clown dates with men who have a fetish for clowns (coulrophiles, they're called). As if Nita doesn't have enough on her plate, her landlord's current girlfriend, who is a scary body builder, has it in for her.
The hilarious, yet in some ways sad, story involves a hot lawnmower, a urine collection funnel, a rubber chicken, a lost dog, clown sex, balloon sculptures and a cop who smells like baked cinnamon goodies. Are you intrigued yet?
Somehow cooking with bananas seems to go well with today's topic. Slipping on banana skin and fashioning banana-shaped balloons into religious icons and scenes are part of Nita's colourful life.
So here you go, a funny well-loved Malaysian snack:
Mashed Banana Fritters (Kuih Kodok in Malay)
2 big, ripe bananas (about 180g), mashed
3-4 tbs flour
1 tbs rice flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar (optional)
1 1/2 tbs oil (for frying)
1. Mix the flours, baking powder, soda, salt and sugar in a bowl. Stir it into the mashed banana with a fork. (Add the fourth tbs of flour if mixture is too soft.)
2. Heat a frying pan to medium-hot and add enough oil to coat the flat area. (Traditionally, this snack is deep-fried but I find it not all that necessary.) Spoon small mounds of the banana mixture onto the pan when the oil is heated (a soft sizzling sound when the batter touches it).
3. Fry one side till medium brown and flip over to fry the other side. Place cooked fritters on a few layers of kitchen paper. Best served warm.
Spring is in the air! Here are pictures of cut tulips I bought from the market and pink and yellow blossoms on trees in Zug.