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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Me. A published writer.

It's official. I'm a published writer.

The latest edition in the To Asia With Love guidebook series is To Japan With Love. Within it are two pieces contributed by yours truly -- in the food section of course.

The process entailed in compiling and editing a travel guidebook has been eye-opening. I was first contacted to be a contributor in June 2005 after the editor, Celeste Heiter, noticed my blog posts about my travels through Japan. Almost four-and-a-half years later, I cannot believe I finally have a printed book before me with my written words inside.

To Japan With Love is a collection of personal stories, ancedotes and recommendations by people who love Japan and want to share their experiences with others. In my contributions, I tell of the joy of tonkatsu and my first encounter with natto.

I've included pics of my relevant pages below - click to enlarge and read the full article.

Pork tonkatsu from Tonki and Maisen, Tokyo
(Moveable Feasts, pp15-16)

My first encounter with natto
(Moveable Feasts, pp37-38)

Contributor biography

To Japan With Love is available for sale online or in-store from Borders, Angus & Robertson, Booktopia and Big W. Check Booko for more information and price comparisons (thanks Minh for the site recommendation!).

Grab Your Fork was also mentioned in yesterday's Melbourne Herald Sun, recommended by Luke Nguyen as his favourite foodie blog. Thanks to Cruxie Faye for letting me know and so kindly scanning a copy of the article for me.

It's all a bit surreal, but I couldn't ask for a more fabulous start to my birthday!
48 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 11/18/2009 03:12:00 am


  • At 11/18/2009 4:44 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Yes I chose to be anonymous - but you'll know this is from me in Norway. HAPPY HAPPY Birthday. What was the first thing you ate this year?? Congratulations on being published. Alex

  • At 11/18/2009 6:37 am, Anonymous Trissa said…

    Congratulations and Happy Birthday. I enjoyed the article on your tonkatsu experience. I've never had tonkatsu in Japan but reading this made me feel like I was there!

  • At 11/18/2009 8:23 am, Anonymous bowb said…

    YAY! nice job! :)

  • At 11/18/2009 8:54 am, Blogger uberannie said…

    Congratulations - how very exciting for you!

  • At 11/18/2009 9:00 am, Anonymous The Ninja said…

    Japan also is my favourite food-country (besides the motherland) and I also don't like natto.

    Happy birthday.

  • At 11/18/2009 9:01 am, Anonymous Rose said…

    Congratulations, and happy birthday!

  • At 11/18/2009 9:02 am, Blogger joey@forkingaroundsydney said…

    Congrats! Excellent work.

  • At 11/18/2009 9:05 am, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    WOOOOHOOOOO CONGRATULATIONS DUDE!!! So very exciting squeee im so happy for you! And happy birthday hope your day is filled with lots of cake :D

  • At 11/18/2009 9:06 am, Blogger Betty @ The Hungry Girl said…

    Congrats Helen! And happy birthday :)

  • At 11/18/2009 9:07 am, Blogger K said…

    Luke Nguyen's fav food blog!!!!!!!
    Him and everyone else. :D
    Happy Birthday for this whole week!

  • At 11/18/2009 9:09 am, Blogger S said…

    Congrats! And hope there will be much more to come :)

  • At 11/18/2009 9:17 am, Blogger Forager said…

    Congratulations! Wow. 4 years is quite a journey! Good on you!

  • At 11/18/2009 9:21 am, Anonymous Howard said…

    Congrats for both, totally deserved!

  • At 11/18/2009 9:35 am, Anonymous Angela said…

    Congratulation Helen ! Sure is some fantastic news.
    Wish you are having a fantastic birthday .

  • At 11/18/2009 9:42 am, Anonymous Simon said…

    Whoa, where the hell did these come from?? Talk about unexpected surprises (at least for me)!

    Not only are you a published writer (though I guess bound to happen), Luke Nguyen's favourite blog (or at least the first one he'd mention) but you're a dance dance revolution fiend.

    Ok, so I made up that last one...

    Congrats with getting published and Happy Birthday! :) hehe

  • At 11/18/2009 9:55 am, Blogger Cherrie Pie said…

    WOOOOT!! Congrats!

  • At 11/18/2009 10:07 am, Blogger Rita (mademoiselle délicieuse) said…

    Congratulations on being part of a book-baby! I'm sure you're very proud after waiting years for her to be born?? =D

  • At 11/18/2009 10:13 am, Anonymous Minh said…

    Happy Birthday!! And again super congrats for the book and the Luke Nguyen shoutout!

  • At 11/18/2009 10:15 am, Anonymous Belle@OohLook said…

    Congratulations on being published, Helen! It's been a long time coming, but well worth it - your contributions to the book make fascinating reading.

  • At 11/18/2009 10:26 am, Anonymous billy@atablefortwo said…

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY HELEN! You look so happy on the cover!!! :) Are you going to wear a Cravat for your next book? ;)

  • At 11/18/2009 10:31 am, Anonymous Jacq said…

    Wow congrats on getting published! and being Luke Nguyen's favourite food blog as well!! Must be so exciting for you - hope you have a great birthday!

  • At 11/18/2009 10:38 am, Anonymous Veruca Salt said…

    Happy B'day and congratulations. The natto story brings back so many delicious memories. In a few months we will make new ones.

    Clicks for making house of Sapa's list.

  • At 11/18/2009 10:40 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Ah natto! I too have tried and loved balut, vegemite, durian, haggis and blood soup (but not all in the one sitting). I once had a whole bowl of natto just to say that I've concurred it, but years later, just reading your article makes me want to vomit again. The slimy rotten texture and smell are just too much. I didn't even have the benefit of mustard, soy sauce or seaweed - just natto and rice.

    Congratulations on the book, and have a wonderful (natto-free) birthday!


  • At 11/18/2009 11:44 am, Blogger Yas @ hungry.digital.elf. said…

    Awesomeness Helen! Congrats :)

  • At 11/18/2009 11:44 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hee hee that's aweesosommmmeee!!! but how can you not like natto :P Congratumalationnsss tho

  • At 11/18/2009 11:52 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Happy birthday and Congratulations. Very well deserved recognitions.

  • At 11/18/2009 12:07 pm, Anonymous YW@BrunchLunchMunch said…


    I haven't tried natto before, by the sound of it from your article I probably won't like it too. I just think still have to try it at least once simply for the sake of saying "I've eaten natto before".. yeah.. asking for it.. I know .. :p

  • At 11/18/2009 12:17 pm, Anonymous clekitty said…

    Happy birthday!!! Congratulations on being a published writer. Keep up all the good work :)

  • At 11/18/2009 1:10 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Wow you're like totally famous, like oh my god, can i get your autograph?! ^^

  • At 11/18/2009 1:18 pm, Anonymous goosmurf said…

    Congrats, how exciting :) And a happy birthday!

  • At 11/18/2009 1:54 pm, Anonymous reality raver said…

    Sensational and happy birthday have a great day and I hope you are going to have an amazing dinner tonight. Published before you are thirty - Way to go.

  • At 11/18/2009 2:39 pm, Anonymous Adrian @ Food Rehab said…

    Congrats Helen! Love it when I hear of a fellow food blogger gets published!

  • At 11/18/2009 3:18 pm, Blogger Wear, Show & Tell said…

    Woman, now we don't need to go buy the book anymore...:P CONGRATES anyhoot! HOW exciting. Super exciting stuff, ahhh awesomely exciting, OH.. have I mentioned... SOOOO excited for ya!

    Grace - http://www.livingfootprints.com.au

  • At 11/18/2009 7:04 pm, Anonymous Craig Hind said…

    Hi Helen,

    Excellent writing! I love your style, elegant yet informal and highly entertaining. It makes me want to book my flight to Tokyo, by way of Sydney of course!


  • At 11/18/2009 7:09 pm, Anonymous Arwen from Hoglet K said…

    Happy Birthday! And congratulations on your publication too!

  • At 11/18/2009 7:33 pm, Blogger YaYa said…

    CONGRATULATIONS! Such wonderful news!

  • At 11/18/2009 8:40 pm, Blogger Unknown said…

    Happy Birthday! A book publishing deal can't be far off. I would definitely buy your book Helen (tragic fangirl here).

    And I don't like natto either. No matter how hard I try.

  • At 11/19/2009 3:24 am, Blogger lex said…

    haha happy birthday! Am glad the stars all lined up for it :)

  • At 11/19/2009 8:29 am, Anonymous Trisha said…

    Congratulations Helen and HAPPEEEE BIIIIRTHDAY AGAIN!!!

  • At 11/19/2009 9:49 pm, Anonymous taroinbrisbane said…

    Wow, congratulations, I am happy for you! Sometimes reading or hearing gaijin's impressions of Japan is boring but you pick up all the spots that I want you to pick up and sometimes even spots I miss, giving me a different perspective on my mother country. I was wondering what your job was being able to go to all these yummy adventures and write about it in such an apetizing way, you're a pro writer, cool!!

  • At 11/20/2009 2:20 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Alex - So lovely to hear from you! First thing I ate for 2009 or first I ate on my birthday? lol. I had a scone with jam and double cream for b'day breakfast/morning tea. It was goooood!

    Hi Trissa - Tonkatsu in Japan is a whole new level of reverence. Glad you enjoyed the article and hope you get to Japan one day so you can experience the joy for yourself :)

    Hi Bowb - Thanks :) The wait has been worth it!

    Hi Uberannie - Thank you! It's been most exciting and couldn't have been better timed :)

    Hi The Ninja - You have proven your good taste. lol.

    Hi Rose - Thank you :)

    Hi Joey - Thanks. It's been a great b'day.

    Hi Chocolatesuze - Thank youuuu! There was cake, yes :) Thanks for all our fooding adventures!

    Hi Betty - Thanks you :)

    Hi K - lol. It was a real surprise and very touching! Plus Luke is Mr Cool so yeah, it was exciting!

    Hi Stephanie Goh - Thanks so much, and lol, who knows? Would love to be more involved with writing in the future.

    Hi Forager - It does go to show how much effort is involved in book compilations! Glad it finally made it and its arrival in my post box couldn't have been better timed :)

    Hi Howard - Thanks dude :)

    Hi Angela - Thank you. It was a very memorable birthday :)

    Hi Simon - DDR? lol. I think not! It's been a whirlwind couple of days and yes, I'm very grateful for it all. Thanks for the b'day wishes - Nov babies rock, yeah?

    Hi Cherrie Pie - Thanks so much :)

    Hi Mademoiselle Delicieuse - lol. Proud indeed! It's been a long pregnancy but I think she's gorgeous! :)

    Hi Minh - Thanks. It's a double b'day surprise so I couldn't have asked for me.

  • At 11/20/2009 2:21 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Belle - Thank you. I think Japan is such a fascinating country and the food is so fresh and treated with such resepct, everything is amazing!

    Hi Billy - rofl. You crack me up! Are there any cravats left in the country anyway? lol

    Hi Jacq - Thanks so much. It's been a great birthday indeed :)

    Hi Veruca Salt - The lady who showed us how to eat natto was lovely. And yes can't wait!

    Hi gimmeamo - I really want to love natto but I'm not there yet. I shall not be defeated! lol. Might take me several more goes :)

    Hi Yas - Thanks dude. And now I'm craving coke chicken wings. And crackling cereal. lol.

    Hi FFichiban - I'm trying to like the natto. I've eaten it four times now. I still have some ways to go. lol

    Hi Ellie - Thanks so much. I'm waiting for word on your cookbook deal :)

    Hi YW - Thank you. Natto should be tried - it's unlike anything I've ever had. You can often find it in the freezer section at Asian grocery stores that stock Japanese products. Give it a go and let me know what you think!

    Hi clekitty - Thanks :) It's been a great day. Hopefully there are many more to come!

    Hi Anon - lol. I wouldn't say famous but sure, you can have my autograph!

    Hi goosmurf - Thank you :)

    Hi Reality Raver - It was an amazing day. Dinner that night was a quiet one but b'day dinners are continuing for a few more weeks :) And alas, I've left behind my 20s, but thanks for the compliment!

    Adrian - Thanks. Having a food blog have provided some great opportunities to me. Does make the labour of love worth it :)

    Hi Wear, Show & Tell - lol. I love the franchise! It’s been very exciting, although perhaps not as crazy as, say, a certain night in Sinagpore. Lol

    Hi Craig - Thanks so much for your very kind words :) Japan is a wonderful country, but yes, you’d have to make sure you travel via Sydney first!

    Hi Arwen - Thank you. It’s been great!

    Hi YaYa - Thanks :)

    Hi Lara - Aww thanks. I would love a book publishing deal, but then, doesn’t everyone? Lol. Glad I’m not the only one who struggles with natto!

    Hi Lex - Thanks, and yes the stars really did align. Definitely a happy camper!

    Hi Trisha - Thank you!

    Hi taroinbrisbane - I don’t work as a full-time writer but I’d love to head that way if the opportunity came up. I work in an un-related industry which pays the bills – I blog when I get home from work which keeps me pretty busy!

    Thanks for your very complimentary words too. It’s always interesting to read another person’s perspective on your mother country. Sometimes it takes fresh eyes to pick up on the things you often take for granted :)

  • At 11/20/2009 12:17 pm, Anonymous Jessica Ting-Roberts said…

    Hi Helen, just wanted to say you certainly all the accomplishments you've achieved through your blogging, and now as a published writer. I can always picture myself in your shoes, every time I read one of your pieces. Keep up doing what you do best!

  • At 11/20/2009 12:20 pm, Anonymous Jessica Ting-Roberts said…

    whoopsy...I meant to say " ...you certainly deserve all the accomplishments you've achieved....."

  • At 11/20/2009 6:03 pm, Blogger Heidi Leon Monges said…

    Double congratulations! I will add this travel book guide (and ticket to Japan) to my Christmas wish list!

  • At 11/21/2009 8:00 am, Anonymous kay said…

    i like luke he is so down to earth on his show.. wow a published book with u inside!! hey helen.. can i get ur autograph? :)

  • At 11/21/2009 9:58 pm, Anonymous PlanningQueen said…

    Congratulations Helen on being published and for taking the time to respond to all the wonderful comments you received! Hope you have had a great week end.

  • At 11/24/2009 1:16 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Jessica - Thank you for your very lovely words - you are too kind :) Am touched to hear you are able to engage so well with my writing. Thanks again for taking the time to leave your comment!

    Hi Heidi - Thank you. Oh yes I think everyone should have a ticket to Japan on their wishlist! I'm sure you've been good, so I hope Santa delivers on the day!

    Hi Kay - Luke does have a great down-to-earth appeal. I always love his banter with his relatives and the locals he meets. lol - you can have my autograph anytime!

    Hi Planning Queen - Thank you :) Responding to comments is the least I can do, and yes, I had a fabulous weekend - filled with eating of course!


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