Friday, September 4, 2009

Risky Business

I've been asked to write a monthly column for KL American, a small publication mailed to members of the American Association of Malaysia. While I've been knee-deep in writing, editing and racking my brain for article-worthy anecdotes about my life in KL, I was only sure of one thing: my first piece would celebrate my love for the wet market.

So the research began...

Months back I read about an elusive woman at one market who sells dragonfruit wine made in Johor state. On specific days she sets up shop hustling eggs and sweet treats, but hidden on the backside of her crate is a sign advertising the red wine. After a nearly 4 month investigation, I found her. I found her on a quiet, nondescript Friday morning perched in the courtyard's corner. I enthusiastically placed my order, sure as eggs is eggs this wine was going to turn my story into a magnum opus!

The following day I returned bright and early to make the RM49 exchange. The woman deserted her crate booth, strolled halfway across the market to an undisclosed location, crawled underneath a cabinet, and hurled my contraband into an opaque bag with a flick of the wrist. Meanwhile twenty loitering bystanders gave me the eye.

"Boy, do I have a surprise for you!" I gushed over the phone to our Kiwi friends. In less than one hour we were at their house, bottle in hand and proud as punch of our semi-smuggled stash — for research purposes, of course. Rachael cracked 'er open and grabbed a camera to document the awesomely odd occasion.


We gave a toast and took a swig. I believe that's about as far as any of us got to finishing the "wine." As the liquids burned the length of my esophagus, which at the time felt as long as a football field, so too went my pièce de résistance. You can be certain if I ever tout a suggestion or thrilling find, it's been field tested by me and my bribed willing guinea pigs; my credibility was not going down over this.

And if anyone says a writer's gig isn't life threatening, I'll assume they've never drank dragonfruit wine from Johor.

16 comments:

Frau said...

Sorry that sucks!Burned the whole way...smart girl too bad you couldn't try it before you buy it.Have a great weekend.

K @ Blog Goggles said...

Haha... coming from the dragonfruit, I can't say I'm too surprised :)

Jess le Grange said...

Haha, that's so funny! Cute story, good luck with the article:)

Meg said...

I'm not sure I'd eat/drink anything from Johor!! JB is sorta the pits, and sketch!! Love this story/find! What a bizarre thing, dragonfruit wine! Keep em coming! Your stories could end up in a book!!!

Stephanie said...

Congratulations on the column! And dragonfruit wine sounds like something straight out of Harry Potter!

Joyce said...

Congrats on the new and exciting venture your own column!! The story was cute!! Have a golden weekend my friend and stay away from dragonfruit. xoxo

Maryann said...

Having your own column is so exciting! When my parents lived in Tokyo, my mother bought a book by a woman who lived there as an ex-pat that was basically a combination of doodles and tips for living in Tokyo as an American that the woman collected as she stumbled through the city. It sounds like you are building up to something like that.

chris beverly said...

i wonder if this lady knows the dragonfruits of her labor are johorrible?

A French Cloud said...

I was wanting the rest of the story to be something like "we grew wings and flew over the island..."

Melissa Marie said...

Hilarious! I lived in Kuwait and may have had an experience or two with homemade wine that was also brutal. Love reading your posts.

Sarah said...

I can only imagine what that tasted like! I'm actually very impressed with the bottle!

Hope you'll share your monthly column here on Inside the Loop!

TheBeautyFile said...

oh, you totally crack me up! you're like nancy drew over there in KL! can't wait to read the column...hopefully sans any additional questionable imbibing adventures.

jae said...

congrats on the column...sounds fun and exciting and after reading this post, maybe even a bit dangerous!

Jessica said...

first of all... you're hilarious. loved it. i can't imagine what that burning wine tastes like!

Virginia in Texas said...

So many years ago, as a newlywed in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, upon arrival we were given a taste of "siddiqi" (friend in Arabic). Although alcohol was banned, the expats made their own. The question, "would you like brown or white?" "Brown, please." (supposedly akin to bourbon). Burned esophagus here too. LOVE your stories!!!

beachbungalow8 said...

COURTNEY! that's so awesome! cheers to you {albeit with something a little less caustic}