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About Reese & Mark - the editors of Season with Spice

reese of season with spice

Hi, I'm Reese, from Penang - an island in Malaysia that was developed by the British East India Company two centuries ago as a trading port in - you guessed it – spices!

I love spices - the vibrant colors, aromas and flavors. Where would cooking be without spices?

Not in my kitchen.

The place where you'll find me busy with snacking or cooking. A condition my grandmother and mom instilled with their ability to cook anything, and doing so at any time of the day.  They spoiled me and my sisters with sweet & sour assam laksa infused with tamarind and mint, satay marinated with turmeric, fennel seeds, and cumin, piping hot hokkien prawn noodles with homemade ground chili paste, coconut milk rice livened up with fresh ginger, pandan leaves, and star anise, and the list of dishes goes on until there was no space left on the table for my plate.

So here I am, next in line, with a taste for flavor in every dish.  No, not just in food, but in life.  In traveling the world, meeting new people, learning new languages, and experiencing cultural diversity by putting myself right in the middle of it.

When I left Penang after University, and traveled throughout Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, I encountered in every place I visited, the undeniable connection between foods and cultures, and the role spices played in the rich history of the world.  Connections I want to share with you on Season with Spice.

Like the dishes we all grew up with that we keep craving and returning to, I found my way back home to Penang last year.  And through the amazing diversity of my little spice island - which I am reminded of every day through my work on community and art projects in the UNESCO World Heritage site of George Town - I discovered those same connections happening all around me.

And to my surprise, I found those connections in a familiar kitchen.  Cooking alongside my mom, she not only shared with me, and continues to share with me, the recipes with spice passed down from my grandmother, but also the many stories that are an inseparable part of them. 

“Dinner’s ready.”

That's Mark. Can you smell the cayenne pepper and cumin from the kitchen?

"Okay, almost done writing."

“Did you tell everyone that you just turned 30?”

“Hey!” Don't listen to everything he says...especially any claim of being the better cook.

Enjoy the recipes and the spices and the stories. I can’t wait to hear from you!

mark of season with spice

Hi, I'm Mark. While my taste buds have adapted (burned) well to the spicy food of Malaysia, I’m a long way from home in Minnesota – a land of holiday potlucks, where you always go back for seconds because there’s never enough space on your paper plate after the first attempt at the endless counter of hotdishes, casseroles, Jell-O with fruit, and assorted bars.

Penang is famous for food, but I do miss those Minnesota dishes. Especially the desserts. I still remember watching my mom bake cookies, cakes and bars. She would open the highest kitchen cupboard and spin this mysterious spice rack, then add the wonderful effect of cinnamon, ginger, clove, and nutmeg in my holiday treats.

Travelling throughout Asia and Australia, paving my own Spice Route through work in Kochi, Singapore, Tokyo, and Penang, I was shocked when I tasted those same spices in savory dishes. It was strange, but delicious. It made me realize how dynamic spices could be. How they could be mixed and added to any dish, and voila – amazing flavor!

“What are you writing in there?”

I’m the better cook. “Nothing.”

“Did you tell them that you write fiction?”

“Not yet. Why?”

"I thought they should know you make a lot of stuff up."

I'm not going to respond to that. But I better get going. I’m in the middle of writing out an ice cream recipe with a bit of spice (rum’s a spice, right?).

We never lock the door to our kitchen, so visit anytime. Tell us your ideas and questions, and take the recipes into your kitchen to create colorful, flavorful dishes to share and savor.


Nisa Homey said...

Hey Reese, nice to meet u here...I stumbled upon your space accidently and love ur recipes...do visit me if time permits...blessings, Nisa.

Reese said...

Hi Nisa,

Namaskaram! Kandadil sandhosham. And thank you for the nice comment and welcome to Season with Spice.

We both love Kerala food, so we will definitely stop by your blog - 'Cooking is Easy'. Mark actually lived and worked in Kochi in 2007, so he is especially missing all the spicy coconut flavored dishes.

Neither of us made it up to Calicut, but hope to one day. So much history and culture from its importance as an ancient spice trading port. It would be wonderful to explore all the spices there and try all the spicy dishes. Nammukku karhikkan poggaam (Let's go eat!)


Reese & Mark

thegnomethief said...

hey you guys!

nice work with the new blog! i love collecting foodblogs so i'm happily adding yours to the list YUM :)

we're actually STILL using the delicious spices that we bought in Little India in Georgetown those many many months ago. ahhh memories.

hope you're both doing well

emme x

Johanna said...

Hi Mark, so glad you stopped by Dazzledish. Love your blog by the way. Great use of spices. I will have to try the pineapple cucumber pepper dish. Yum!

Reese said...

Thanks Emme and Johanna!

Plateful said...

So thrilled to have found your blog! Loving your recipes and stories, already. You guys make a great team and I'm definitely coming back to read more posts at leisure..! :)

Reese, Malaysia is on our radar of places to visit. In fact we even got our passports stamped with the Malaysian visa and then changed our travel plans to fly to Hong Kong instead. Anyways, so looking forward to enjoying Malaysian food. Soon!

Hey Mark, it's a pleasure to know that you lived in Kochi -- my mom's homeland. I went to an Ango Indian school there for a while, in Fort Kochi. And oh so delighted to know that you enjoyed our spicy food..it's kinda addictive, if you ask me :)

SeasonWithSpice said...

Thanks Nashitha! Food blogging works well in a team - a bit of competitiveness keeps things interesting.

You are definitely right about Kerala food being addictive. We will have to investigate Plateful to see all the amazing dishes you had growing up in Kochi.

If you're headed to Malaysia for food, there is no place like Penang (check out CapturingPenang.com). Chinese, Indian, and Malay hawkers on every street corner whipping up enticing food.

I am beginning to think that writing about delicious food makes me even hungrier than looking at or smelling it. Off to the kitchen...


Mark & Reese

Umm Mymoonah said...

Hello Reese and Mark, Glad I discovered about your site. I grew up all my life in India with all the exotic spices. Once I even visited Malaysia since my Sister in law lives there and I loved the food over there, especially the parathas and curry puff which they make. They have magical powers in their hands. Anyway I'm thrilled to learn about the spices all over the world.

SeasonWithSpice said...

Hi Ayeesha, thank you for stopping by! Speaking of curry puffs, we just got back from Penang's Little India where we couldn't help ourselves, and snacked on a few before dinner. That's great to hear you enjoyed them too on your 'eating' journey through Malaysia.

Looking forward to seeing and reading about all your recipes with spice on 'Taste of Pearl City'!

Reese & Mark

Maja Matus said...

Hi you guys, nice to meet you :) Reese, you are so gorgeous! Who's turned 30? Oh, I'm too close to that number :D
Mark, nice picture :) I have couisins in Minnesota :D
P.S. Love your conversation :)

AsiaRuth said...

I was trying to find the recipe for fried popiah your web site was one of those that draw my interest. I am a Indian lady married to a Chinese gentleman and been married for 30 years now . As you can tell the food that we consume is chinese indian malay or nonya food . And i like cooking but i have a problem i can never get my pancake right .Would you be kind in enough to share a recipe with me that my children will not laugh at me when my pancake looks more like a crepe . Thank you Mark & Reese for the recipe of grandma & grandpa.

seasonwithspice said...

Hi Ruth - thank you for your kind note. We will be happy to share some pancake recipes soon. And popiah recipe too:) Stay tuned.

Biren @ Roti n Rice said...

Hi, my first time here. Nice to meet you. Found out about you through a friend. I grew up in Malaysia but now live in Minnesota. I love spicy food and cook it whenever I can. I can get most spices here but specialty items have to be specially "imported" during my visits back to Malaysia :)

seasonwithspice said...

Hi Biren, it's nice to meet you too, and find out about your Malaysia-Minnesota link. Not many Malaysians can survive the frigid Minnesota winters...

Good to hear you can find most of the spices in Minnesota to cook up your spicy dishes. Would be curious to know what spices you are not able to find that you need to purchase on your return trips to Malaysia.

We'll check out Roti n Rice to see if you've come up with any Minnesota-Malaysian fusion dishes.

Mark & Reese

Biren @ Roti n Rice said...

Oh yes, the winters in MN are harsh to put it mildly...LOL! I guess my blood is much thicker now to survive the extreme temperatures. :)

I have to resort to quite a bit of substitution but it has worked out well so far. I still prefer the dried chilies, curry powder, and curry mixes from Malaysia. Recently I started mixing my own curry powder and I am very happy with the results. Other things that I would "import" are Cheong Kim Chuan belacan, candlenut, and salt fish to name a few.

Thanks for visiting my site. I have posted a response to your question there. :)

Chopinandmysaucepan said...

Hi Reese & Mark, I think you have a beautiful concept for your blog in encouraging the use of spices in our cooking and recipes. Our food, be it Asian, western or anything in between is never the same without the kick of some complexity of flavours that can only be found in aromatic spices. I look forward to reading more. We have something in common in that we started out blog at the same time. Happy cooking to you both!

seasonwithspice said...

Thanks Maja! You're welcome to join our conversation:)

seasonwithspice said...

Thank you Chopinand. You've got a fine taste for music (& good food too). Happy cooking with spices!

Esef Ong said...

Hi there, Reese and Mark, your blog is now in my Top Favorite addition :-) Thanks for sharing your love of Penang island's culinary (maybe some Minnesota dishes to follow?) and gorgeous photos! Now, I know where to lurk when I'm homesick :-D Hope to meet both of you one day... as Penangites always said,"It's a small island, anyone knows everyone!" Keep those photos and recipes rolling in, Reese and Mark, don't forget yours too :-)

seasonwithspice said...

Hi Esef - thank you for your sweet note! Yes, do let us know if you are back here in Penang. It would be lovely to meet with you. Minnesota dishes will come soon..Oh wait, Mark is addicted to our Malaysian dishes this week, so he insists that I should be sharing more of the local recipes first.

Ami's Vegetarian Delicacies said...

Hi I'm glad I found this blog. I wish to follow your blog. but no option to follow. Also I just noticed there's no representation of my country "Sri Lanka" in your spice route. Sri Lanka is one of leading exporters of spices. and Sri Lankan cuisine has heavy use of spices jus like Malay cuisine. my email is [email protected]

seasonwithspice said...

Hi Ami, you can follow Season with Spice by email (please enter your email address in the box on the sidebar).

We both love Sri Lankan food and all the wonderful spices, including real cinnamon - Ceylon Cinnamon. We will contact you shortly regarding your request.


Mark & Reese

Ch'ng Xin Bei said...

Hey Reese and Mark!

I'm a Malaysian, born and breed. I'm now studying in Singapore which is only the neighbouring country, I know. But I miss good old fashioned Malaysian food SO MUCH! Having eaten Malaysian dishes my whole life, I find Singaporean dishes not as delicious compared to Malaysia food, and I don't know if you agree. ;)

Btw, I'll be heading over to Penang for a well-deserved eating spree this December! I was wondering if you guys have a restaurant or even a stall that sells your food so I can drop by for a bite? :) I stumbled upon your website showing the "Apple Fritters" recipe on Tumblr and was so surprised to see the word "Malaysia" on your post! :) Hahaha! I'll definitely try them once I'm back home in Malaysia. :)

Regards, Xin Bei

seasonwithspice said...

Hi Xin Bei - we completely understand why you miss Malaysian food:) Since you can find similar ingredients in Singapore, ever the reason to start making those dishes at home when you crave a good old Malaysian dish.

We have yet to open a restaurant or a stall - only to family & friends for now:)

If you want some recommendations on where to eat and what to do, drop us an email. We’ll be happy to share our recommendations.

Have a great weekend!

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