Saturday, October 08, 2005

Bonding Over Food

College pals: Yunsheng, Viv, D.

Food is so central to our lives in Singapore that bonding invariably takes place over food. Over the past two weeks, I caught up with various friends while busying myself over Macanese baked pork chop rice and Peking duck rolls.

With college pals, Vivien and Yunsheng, we did Macanese at Crystal Jade’s latest venture into Macanese 察餐厅 fare. For a country with a population with just 300, 000 digits (yes 300K, you read that right), they already have a discernible cuisine which can be readily exported to other parts of the world. Michelle Reis, if you can think of her as food of another kind, is in movies and the celeb circuit by way of Hong Kong. What about Singapore, with a population of 4 million—and counting—and an established Singaporean cuisine in (and only in) Singapore? We could start exporting bak chor mee and hainanese curry rice already.

Goodwood Park Hotel on a rainy Tuesday. Kevin and I piled on the gossip mongering while indulging in old school high tea nyonya-style. High tea’s not my thing—I love variety and quantity but I have no room to pile on the inches, though I remember my first and last high tea experience very fondly. It was 1991, I was only 10, and I had laksa at the dull brasserie of the then-Hyatt Regency. Fastforward to 2005. Since it was Kevin’s belated birthday treat, I was more than happy to say yes, never mind the potential calories.

With little in the way of resistance, I soon piled on the laksa, chicken curry, kueh pie tee, bread dumplings and wings. It’s amazing how in Singapore, you still can spot CatherineLim cheongsam-wearing types doing afternoon high tea. Looks like Emily of Emerald Hill exists not only in Stella Kon’s literary work but still remains an empirical reality out there.

At Hour Glass’ party/Jubilee Hall on Friday, Jeffrey and I found overselves more occupied with conversations, Peking duck rolls, cocoa spare ribs and the bubbly rather than the event per se. Carl F. Bucherer awards, so named after the Swiss timepiece, was made all the more theatrical and fictitious with a host like Beatrice Chia. The winners went to the folks who took the path less treaded—Kit Chan, Loh Lik Ping, Tina Tan-Leo & Lionel Leo. Would you take the awards seriously? One could argue that in recruiting a theatre personality like Chia (whose reminder, ‘please switch your mobile phones to the silent mode’ reminds one of being in a theatre pre-performance), it is symbolic of an allusion to theatrics, drama—pure fiction and orchestration. But who would care to debate the politics of such representation when, at the end of the event, a bar of Möet-ful flutes and an ensemble of jazz players await?


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