Saturday, October 14, 2006

Singapore Vacation Part 1: Singaporeans live to eat

I have taken a full month of vacation in Singapore. The whole month has been pretty exciting: Eating, shopping, window shopping, visiting touristic places, taking a trip to nearby island Batam to swim with dolphins, etc.
Local Singaporean food is awfully cheap compared to Seoul. The normal prices at a food court is around 3-4 usd for a meal including a cup of freshly squeezed tropical fruit juice. The variety of food is simply enough to impress any guests studying photo displays of each vendors at the food court. There are usually 10-15 food stores in the food court, each selling at least 5 -10 different items. I really sympathize those tourists coming to Singapore for the very first time. For those people who haven't been to Singapore before, a note to keep in mind is Singaporeans live to eat.

All pictures below were taken in Takashimaya food court:

This is a Yong Tau Foo store. It always has a huge display with veggies like Bok Choy, cabbage, Kang Kong, eggplant, bitter gourd stuffed with fish paste, red & green chilli stuffed with fish paste. Also in the display you would probably find Stuffed Tofu, Deep fried Tofu, Crabstick, Fish Balls( like meat ball, it's made with minced fish), different kinds of fried fish cakes. You may pick any item(toppings) as you usually. Probably around 6 toppings. You can choose the kind of noodles - mee (thick yellow noodles), mee hoon (rice vermicelli), kuay teow (flat rice noodles) or a combination of 2 noodles - to be serve in a soup or sauce with all the toppings you have choosen.

Any idea what curry puffs are? They are horn-shaped crusty pastry, stuffed with curried potatoes, eggs and somethings chicken, fried in boiling hot oil. They are Singaporeans' favorite snack which can be eaten any time of the day.

Over the past decades, with the influx of western(purely American pop culture) influences, Singaporeans are becoming connoisseurs of American desserts such as brownies, cheesecakes, mudpies... I don't remember myself growing up with brownies or cheesecakes. My first brownie was probably in mid 90s. I confess my love for brownie, not to mention the dripping hot fudge and huge scoop of good vanilla ice cream with vanilla beans coming with it. My favorite place to have such sensational brownie would be Coffee Club at Holland Village Singapore.

*About Singlish*
Sometimes we(Singaporeans) don't even greet each other with a Hello. Singaporeans usually start a conversation with "Have you eaten?" in Singlish, Chinese, Hokkien, Malay or even Tamil, other dialects or a mix of some of the languages I just mentioned. Thanks to the multi-racial society, here in Singapore. We simply don't speak English anymore. No doubt it is the first language in Singapore. We tweaked it to our own flavours and called it: Singlish.

If you are baffled, let me give an example to explain Singlish is. It is just plain English with Singaporean slangs. Singlish is a very colourful language. Every sentence ends with a la, lor or leh.
Just try to solve the riddle in the dialogue below:

Fifi: Hey Jen, makan already? Want to go makan?
Jen: Ai-yo, cannot la! Stuck at work leh!

Makan means eat. Aiyo means Oh or simply an exclaimation to show excitment or disappointment, depending how you say it. La and Leh both words don't mean a thing, just an add-on.