The English language can prove difficult to a Chinese tongue.
To break the monotony of having the same diet each lunch time I have taken up the habit of having the occasional meal from the 'Western Food' stall. The interpretation of "western" in this case being a desert spoon sized portion of luke warm bake beans and an equal portion of coleslaw cringing on a wafer thin slice of tomato. I use the term slice in the singular.
This accompanies a handful of thin potato chips ('fries' for those with a US bent) and a crisp section of crumbed chicken. Although slightly thicker than the tomato, the meat too has been run through the mangle of life before reaching my plate.
Upon receiving my order the proprietor yells to the kitchen at the back "Chicken Cutret!"
She, for it is a she, has a powerful voice that resonates around the walls of her hawker stall.
While the difficulty of pronouncing "l" for a native Chinese speaker is reasonably well documented, my attempts at Mandarin are far more comical and my Hokkien (a common dialect in Singapore) virtually non existent.
Despite all of the above mentioned , I confess to enjoying my fare at the 'Western Food' stall.
It will however be a different fowl that graces my Christmas dinner plate. Turkey and goose are on the menu at Le Meridien.
Christmas reminds me of the gifts I received as a boy from an Aunt Nancy, my Mother's sister. Nancy lived in various exotic places in Africa (and other far flung outposts of the British Empire). Here husband Ralph was ex-British Army and a senior member of the British Civil Service.
There was always something exotic in my Christmas stocking from Aunt Nancy - a beaded leather belt from Tanganyika or a multi-hued conch shell from African shores, crafted into a bedside lamp. The lamp remained in my parent's house until the day they passed away.
I sometimes think that my dreams of exotic places was first engendered by the gifts received from my far off Aunty. It was she who gave me my sense of wanderlust and I am wandering still.
Chicken Cutret anyone?
Sunday, 9 December 2007
I thought I would produce an art calendar at this time of year so friends, colleagues and readers of this blog could download and print up a larger version if they felt so inclined.
I have placed the image on a free virtual drive for ease of access. Click on the caption below the image and feel free to share the link for the free download with friends.
Posted by Roger Smith at 16:53
Anaheim has come to Redhill.
There is a hawker at the Redhill Food Centre who specialises in desserts. Not that this in itself is unusual as most hawker centres have at least one outlet that provides local delicacies such as chendol (an iced concoction covered with green 'worms' of a gelatinous texture - pictured), soursop and iced kachang.
This gentleman's claim to fame is that he is a Mickey Mouse fanatic. His stall is festooned with Mickey collectibles and all of his decoration echoes the same theme.
His modus operandi is pure theatre. We observed an hour of set up which involved turning on a set of snake lighting, various illuminated signs and a driving dance beat from a set of battered speakers. A mini Las Vegas in the heartland of Singapore.
Standing at the front of his enterprise he moves between customer and consumables with rhythmic ease. There is a certain frenetic pace about his actions that in itself attracts the crowds.
And crowds there are. They queue up to sample his wares like moths attracted to the pulsating bright lights. The locals refer to his stall as 'the dancing uncle store'.
The only other stall at the Redhill Food Centre that attracts similar patronage is the satay hum stall, which I have mentioned before. There are many versions of satay to be found in South East Asia including one called Satay Torpedo, made from goat's testicles that have been marinated in soy sauce. I have not yet tried this variation - the goats run faster than I do!
In the past a rather gruff old man took the Satay Hum orders and relayed these to his son and grandson who did the cooking.
As the Centre has been closed for the past month for renovations we have been unable to patronise it. Yesterday when we visited, the old man's place had been taken by two youngsters of the family - the next generation. Upon enquiry we learnt that the great grandfather (for this was he) had passed away.
The other event of yesterday was the confirmation of our Xmas Day lunch booking at Le Meridien. This is our second Xmas in Singapore and we decided to go back to the same venue as last year. They have an excellent spread, including treats such as roast goose to which I am very partial! For $38 ++ per person this has to be the best value for money in town and the quality is excellent.
One other booking confirmation occurred last week - our Chinese New Year trip to San Francisco and Vegas. CNY happens early February so it is going to be cold in the States. Based on my winter holiday in Perth this past July, I suspect I will find the plummeting temperatures a challenge.
My body seems relatively acclimatised now to Singapore and last night for the first time, I was even cool enough to get up in the middle of the night and pull a duvet cover over myself.
Posted by Roger Smith at 15:58