Five-a-day: Meng-Chia Lai

When I asked artist Meng-Chia Lai to send me pictures of what she munches on during a typical working day I didn’t expect her food photographs to better my own. I might have known, however, because Monja (as she is known to friends) not only has an enviable eye for colour, she also has a pretty sophisticated palate. I last saw Monja in Bill’s in Lewes where she was having lunch with a friend before a visit to the nearby Charleston farmhouse. The images she has contributed here, most of which are taken from her vigorously kept journals, have much in common with the vibrant designs of the Bloomsbury Group. She brings her signature light touch to her commercial work too, which notably includes packaging designs for a luxury Liberty of London food line. You can see more of Monja’s beautiful work on her blog, but don’t click through yet, here comes her ‘five a day’.


‘I start the day with a bowl of museli with pear cubes, dried figs and milk. The juicy and silky pear contrasted with the other crunchy ingredients is simply wonderful.


‘I love to eat seasonal vegetable pasta or a toasted sandwich for lunch at my studio. These days I have also been enjoying chunky apple cubes and thinly sliced raw onion, drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with a pinch of sea salt. The flavour combination is something quite magical but I’ll only eat this when I don’t have any meetings!


‘For an afternoon snack I enjoy a chocolate and custard choux bun with a cup of hot herbal tea. The choux bun is from M&S I’m afraid, there are many lovely bakeries in Norwich but these make me smile…


‘…Followed by something from the studio ‘fruit bar’.


‘I like all sorts of cuisines but when I miss home, I make something that reminds me of Taiwan. I wanted to introduce a Taiwanese pork stew to you here but the photos weren’t good, so here is another favourite of mine called ‘Dan Bao Fan’ meaning ‘rice wrapped with egg’. I used to have this dish after school. To make it I prepare fried rice with mushrooms, garlic, spring onions and freshly chopped tomato, then I fry an egg pancake and when this is nearly cooked I sprinkle on some grated cheddar cheese. I place the fried rice in the middle of the pancake, wrap it all up quickly and serve hot.’

See more on Meng-Chia Lai’s blog.

This post is part of an ongoing series, you can find out what my other featured artists have been eating by following the tag Five-a-Day. If you are a professional artist and you would like to have your work featured on Gannet & Parrot please get in touch, I’m particularly keen to feature artwork on a foodie theme.

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About Chloe King

I'm a freelance writer, designer and webby type. I live with my husband and daughter in the south of England. I like to cook and can throw a good party.

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6 comments on “Five-a-day: Meng-Chia Lai

  1. November 2, 2013 at 9:40 am

    Apple and onion?! Is that a thing?! Learn something new every day (or, at least, every day you post something on the blog…)

    • November 2, 2013 at 10:23 am

      It’s a thing now Hattie, I’m look forward to trying Monja’s salad later this week, and her Dan Bao Fan for that matter, I bet S will love that.

  2. November 2, 2013 at 10:31 am

    Yeah. Love the look of the Dan Bao Fan too…

  3. November 2, 2013 at 11:56 am

    I am delighted that you would like to try it! Braeburn apple work especially well.

    For Dan Bao Fan, the fried rice recipe: Pan fry chopped garlic, spring onion, mushrooms. Add steamed rice, stir them well then add some tomato ketchup. Sprinkle some finely chopped fresh tomato and spring onion, add salt and black pepper.

    • November 2, 2013 at 12:35 pm

      Hey Monja, thanks for the details, sounds scrummy, I’ll let you know how we get on! Do you vary the rice filling ingredients or do you usually stick to the recipe described? X

      • November 2, 2013 at 2:22 pm

        It varies, see what is left in the kitchen. I love courgette in it too, we don’t have this in Taiwan. I tried it with Japanese curry gravy, it worked well too! X

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