Someone told me recently that there is nothing about Singapore’s food that has not already been devoured, described, discussed, debated, debunked or even denounced. So this is not about the food in Singapore, not really. Instead, this is about all those ‘closet foodie’ friends in Singapore I thought I knew well, but obviously don’t! These guys are clearly the best mates to show you around this unique island-state-country, a vibrant Disneyland for food buffs!
First there is Somy, the wise and fearless vegetarian! Wise because in Singapore, she warned, even the fiery chilli paste (Chilli Sambal) served as a condiment at the tables has shrimp paste, as does the clear broth for any soup, made from fish stock. Fearless, because she will patiently sit through hours of unnerving (for her!) crab-shell-cracking and lobster-tail-sucking at Jumbo on Clarke Quay without cringing once, and then travel all the way to bustling and quaint Arab Street for Veg Murtabaks, or dig into the crisp and rich Prata at the The Roti Prata House on Thomson Road! She is the reason I got to taste Fried Lychees and shuck Fresh New Zealand Oysters, while perched on a cushioned hammock 160 ft above the ground at Supertree by Indochine, with a spectacular 360 degree view of the Bay area. Sigh, the good life!
Then there is Bani, the bake queen! I just learnt that she bakes everyday, and everything… I might just find a baked ‘me’ popping out of her well-loved oven someday! Her daily chores include soaking raisins, leavening doughs, chopping nuts and such other wonderful activities… and that’s aside from her very demanding day job! Wonder if her restful, green-n-mahogany living room in Singapore is the only place in the world where you can get a mid-week brunch with an amazing spread of Nutty Breads, Cupcakes, Fresh Puddings, Melty Muffins, Baked Spanish Omeletes and those delightfully crunchy cream-cheese laden Celery Boats? Nom nom!
It was an emotional and noisy reunion with the thin, sprightly, smiling Divya, a hang-out friend and a close neighbor from my school days… who is thin n sprightly no more! She waddles around town, hogging her way through hawker centres and food streets, undeterred by her huge baby bump, and in-between reliving forgotten memories, rattles off names of places I should visit for the best Katong Laksa and Popiah in Geylong and Joo Chiat, while I struggle to take it all in!
Another high-volume reunion was with the Tangs – Sourav, my rock-addict buddy from 20 years ago, and his sweet, no-nonsense wife Rachel. While he has now (thankfully!) graduated from guzzling innumerable Cokes to chugging craft beers, at places like Two Fat Men and The Good Beer Company, his rock days are far from over. He’s kinda like your go-to guy for Singapore’s best gigs, swigs and shindigs.
And finally, Naagin and Sush, the deadly duo when it comes to food! Why? Because between them, their genes cover a large part of India, and its fascinating regional cuisines, and now after years in Singapore, they hold sway over everything edible south of Thailand… maybe even all the way down to Antarctica, who knows! You have to be a little bit insane to weather the equatorial afternoon sun just to help us wide –eyed ‘foreigners’ pig out on every single local dish at the famed Newton Hawker Centre.
And you have to be a little more insane to flag down a grumpy cabbie in torrential rain, leaving a baby at home, to slosh half way across the country just to hand over a package of Sambal, and Kaya and Chili Bak Kwa to someone (read, a very emotional me!) to carry back home… I mean, who does that?? Sniff!
A quick shout out to blushing bride Ro – Welcome to Singapore, la! More foodie power to you 🙂
Plate-licker’s Wisdom: I think Confucius said this – ‘You must know your friends well, and your foodie friends better’! If not, I am copyrighting it NOW, just for my Singaporean friends!