For The Love of Kicap

As the finishing touch to what must have been a glorious meal, the guy next to me at the sushi bar today drank the soy sauce straight out of the little dipping bowl.

Head tilted back and everything.

He must really love his fermented beans.

Basler Herbstmesse

In Basel, autumn means more than just falling leaves and pumpkin pies.

When the weather gets cooler and the days shorter, Baslers look forward to the Herbstmesse (Autumn Fair).

The oldest and biggest fair in Switzerland, the Herbstmesse is one of Basel’s traditions that the locals – young and old – thoroughly enjoy. It’s also the biggest fair between Milan and Stuttgart, and attracts more than a million visitors every year.

The fair is usually held in various places in the old town as well as in Kleinbasel, with different attractions to cater for different age groups.

Those with young children to entertain head to Barfüsserplatz and Münsterplatz for the carousel, Ferris wheel, bumper cars and other kiddy-friendly rides. Kasernenplatz and Messeplatz are where you’ll find teenagers and thrill-seeking adults queueing up for the roller coaster, the haunted house, and other heart-stopping rides. If you’re feeling peckish, have a mosey around Petersplatz; you’ll find crêpes, raclette, bratwurst, cotton candy, apple fritters, cheese tarts, chocolate-covered fruit, churros, noodles… the list goes on. It isn’t just food you’ll find at Petersplatz – there are hundreds of stalls selling primarily artisan and craftware. Even if you don’t end up buying anything, it’s worth just having a look.

It ain't autumn in Basel until the you see the Ferris wheel up in Münsterplatz.

It ain’t autumn in Basel until the you see the Ferris wheel up in Münsterplatz.

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The fair lasts for more than two weeks, so vendors come in trailers.

The fair lasts for more than two weeks, so vendors come in trailers.

This kid's obviously gone off on one of the rides - who cares if it's cold?

This kid’s obviously gone off on one of the rides – who cares if it’s cold?

Kids love the Herbstmesse.

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Kiddy rides at Münsterplatz.

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Artisan and craft stalls in Petersplatz…

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And of course, the food….

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By night, Herbstmesse is a treat for the eyes…

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That’s all for now.



Like everyone else, I try to stay healthy.

I don’t count calories, and I’m not anal about removing every (or any, for that matter) ounce of fat on that chicken thigh I’m cooking, but I try in other ways.

I sometimes start the day with a veggie-heavy green smoothie.

Where possible, I buy organic and/or locally-farmed veggies and produce.

When I can, I cook using cold-pressed, organic coconut oil.

Sometimes I substitute almond milk for normal milk.

I’ve recently become increasingly conscious about using skin products and makeup with parabens, sulphates and other chemicals – and have since changed my skincare routine to something simpler and more natural.

My attempt to avoid harsh chemicals extends to household products as well – not least because I always find myself wheezing and suffocating from the fumes whenever I clean the bathroom. I’m not asthmatic, I don’t smoke, and from the various medical checkups I’ve had in the past, my lungs are fine. And yet I can feel my pipes constrict whenever I inhale the fumes from the bathroom cleaner. Which I inevitably do, seeing how impractical it would be to scrub the bathroom tiles and tub with a ten-foot pole. My respect (and concern) goes to cleaners everywhere. I really hope they are fairly compensated for their work (although I know they’re not in a lot of places), and that they have access to adequate medical services, if not medical insurance.

And so I am constantly on the lookout for safe, natural, eco-friendly cleaning products. I wouldn’t want to drop dead in the bathroom one day. Death from Mr. Muscle fume intoxication? I’d rather not.

I try to incorporate exercise into my daily routine. By my reckoning, trawling the shops and window shopping are good cardiovascular activities. My bank account doesn’t seem to agree. Neither does The Mister. It seems that no amount of well-thought, well-constructed arguments can convince him to think otherwise. He keeps muttering incomprehensible things like “jogging”, “running”, and “cycling”.

I have absolutely no idea what he’s talking about. Different planet, I tell you.


While I try to watch what I put into and on my body, I’m not a crazy health freak.

And while I try to look for more natural, DIY kitchen-ingredients skincare recipes, I’m no hippie.

I still succumb to prettily-packaged processed foods. I still rely on a lot of non-organic ingredients. I don’t think twice about what or where I eat when dining out.

And yes, I still love my desserts.

Chocolates, cakes, biscuits, cookies… mmm mmm.

I used to joke that I had a separate stomach for dessert; even if I was too full to finish my meal, I would still have space for dessert.

And when I get a craving for something, I can’t really ignore it. I believe that the human body is an intelligent being, and that you should always listen to it when it’s trying to tell you something.

Especially when it’s saying how good a slice of cake would be right now.

That’s what happened to me the other day. I suddenly felt like eating a slice of cake. Preferably something simple, like butter cake or sponge cake. With icing on it. The icing was an essential component. There are times when the cake is merely the conduit for the sugary, buttery sweetness of buttercream or fudge icing. Oooh yeah.

And that was how I felt that day. I wanted cake. With icing.

But I didn’t have cake, and I didn’t feel like going out to get it.










I just had the icing. Straight from the pot. Packaged in a manufacturing plant. Chock-full of wholesome polyunsaturated fat, sugar and petrochemical byproducts. Oooooh yeah.


As Oscar Wilde wrote in The Picture of Dorian Gray: 

The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself.

And oh, how I yielded.

As I greedily fed myself with spoonfuls of delightfully sugary icing, the tears of Swiss organic farmers fell onto the grassy hills of northwestern Switzerland, eventually finding their way to, and merging with, the river Rhine.