Monday, November 20, 2006

Whelks, Slow Food and Time

Whenever I'm stressed, I buy a bowl of whelks to eat with lunch.

I bought some today.

There is a little cafe near the hospital where I work, called the Bawang Merah (Red Onion) which sells the most delicious whelks in curry sauce I've ever tasted. I usually wind up with my mouth on fire after eating them, but it's worth it.

These tiny little shellfish, usually no bigger than half my thumb or a little longer, take some skill to eat because basically we have to suck them out of the shell without the aid of pins or forks - the tines are too big to go through the small hole at the end of the shell anyway. As the process involves generally a minute amount of rather strange sucking noises reminiscent of tentacle monsters sucking out eyeballs, a reasonable amount of tolerance amongst the diners in the cafe is usually a good thing, plus the ability to be thick-skinned and pretend to not notice when a particularly loud slurp brings all eyes in your direction.

Whelks take time to eat. I only order then when I have a long, leisurely full lunch break because they can't be enjoyed in a hurry. Today I was able to do that, and even have enough time to do a five minute sketch with a self-inking Chinese calligraphy brush.

A bowlful of whelks reminds me that there's all the time in the world. That for one hour, life slows down just enough for me to take a breath and enjoy, moment by moment.

I need those reminders more often.


constance said...

zoop! slurp! I love the sound of it as much as the taste :) There's an unexplainable sense of achievement everytime I get to suck in successfully at the first try! :D

I like your ink illustration of whelks very much for its loose yet confident strokes.

Shuku said...


Yes! Isn't it just the best feeling in the world when you successfully get one of those little stubborn suckers out of their shells? The only thing I don't like is having to spit out the little round hard 'disc' inside, but there are times I just swallow it as well...

And thank you! I'm starting to enjoy drawing these. The shapes are just so pretty.

Alina Chau said...

Nice shading to define the form!

marcobucci said...

Fun sketches. Great little comic page below! I'm enjoying your posts here.

Marcelo Vignali said...

You are a terrrrrrific storyteller. Your story was funny, and thought provoking. And, you can draw too!

PS, I answered your question about Pumpkin Boy on my blog.