Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Toni from Wifely Steps came up with this blog carnival for foodies who are bookworms and bookworms who are foodies.

I certainly love to eat and I've been reading books since I was a toddler. I have the thick eyeglasses to prove it. I figure it is in my genes. But this isn't about my failing eyesight. Permit me to move on with the topic at hand. I chose to associate a book which made a huge impact on my life with some of my comfort food(s).

I read "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" by Milan Kundera during a certain period in my life when I was ... well let's just say not in a happy place. A phase when I was at my most pensive and reflective self. When I analyzed and questioned every single thought processes I absorbed from this cerebral novel.

The 1988 film adaptation of The Unbearable Lightness of Being didn't fare well at the box office. But the screen sizzled with the brilliant performance of very talented actors in the lead roles - Daniel Day Lewis, Lena Olin and Juliette Binoche. This hauntingly poignant novel is set in the beautiful city of Prague, the Czech Republic. In 1968 (the year I was born) the country was going through a significant political upheaval - the rise of Communism in Eastern Europe. Milan Kundera developed 3 interesting yet relatively complex characters. All of them equally flawed yet radiating with such vibrant personalities.

Tomas is a carefree Czech surgeon/doctor. His philosophical views and somewhat eccentric lifestyle can be likened to eating saltine crackers. Light fare, you can eat in different ways. You can top it with a piece of cheddar cheese for breakfast with your coffee. Or add tuna flakes with mayonnaise for snack during afternoon tea. Or slide some strawberry jam with light margarine, perfect for dessert.

Sabina, an artist/painter is Tomas's mistress. A fiery and very sensual character. Probably as hot and spicy as my curry cauliflower dish. A simple recipe (my mother taught me) which consists of onions, tomato sauce, boiled cauliflower with loads of curry powder. Sometimes, I add a pinch of paprika and crushed chili flakes for some added tongue burning sensation. I usually eat this with tortilla when I don't feel like eating rice.

Lastly Tereza, Tomas's wife comes across as a shy mousy type. She can be sweet yet she is deeply troubled and haunted by a painful past. A rather strong character in her own right. For some strange reason, I associate her with a bar of KitKat. Crunchy on the inside with the right amount of chocolate on the outside. A chocolate covered wafer bar which can fix my chocolate cravings in an instant.

My favorite sentences in the novel reads:
He suddenly recalled the famous myth from Plato's Symposium: People were hermaphrodites until God split them in two, and now all the halves wander the world over seeking one another. Love is the longing for the half of ourselves we have lost.

Let us suppose that such is the case, that somewhere in the world each of us has a partner who once formed part of our body. Tomas's other part is the young woman he dreamed about. The trouble is, man does not find the other part of himself. Instead he is sent a Tereza in a bulrush basket. But what happens if he nevertheless later meets the one who was meant for him, the other part of himself? Whom is he to prefer? The woman from the bulrush basket or the woman from Plato's myth?

Heh this got you thinking, didn't it? =)

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