Monday, September 03, 2007

Eating Singapore

Normally I only comment here on the fiction in The New Yorker or, occasionally, on a book review. If there’s something interesting in the political sphere, I might say a few words at Cobalt 6, but usually that’s it. I feel compelled, though, to congratulate The New Yorker on the tasty article by Calvin Trillin in the current issue, “Three Chopsticks,” about eating his way through Singapore. Sadly, the story isn’t online, but if you get a chance to read the piece you’ll learn everything you need to know about the country: food.
“Convenience isn’t everything. Singapore, though, has always been noted for the quality and variety of its street food and, not coincidentally, for having a citizenry whose interest in eating borders on the obsessive.”
And I can add from long personal experience (I first visited Singapore in 1978, worked there from 1983 to 1993, and have stopped there once every few years since then), that the obsession is acquired by most expats who live there as well.

Before visiting Singapore, Trillin comes up with a list of “must try” dishes: chwee jueh, grilled stingray, roti prata, curry puffs, chili crab (and its cousin, pepper crab), laksa, fish-head curry, carrot cake (which isn’t what you think it is) and char kway teow. A good list. But his host tells him that it’s too limited – there are way too many things he’s left out. And it's not just the variety of food that is appealing, but the variety of restaurants: hawker centers, coffee shops, street vendors.

It’s a fun article, and full of good information about Singapore food, which is the best thing Singapore has going.


Dorothy said...

So awesome to read about a Singaporean expat's take on this. As a Singaporean now living in the US, I totally miss the food at home.

Clifford Garstang said...

I'm sure you do! The article describes attempts to eat Singaporean food in New York, and I've tried in D.C., but it's not just the food itself that's important, even if that were as good--which it isn't.

Thanks for stopping by.