Saturday, 2 August 2008

The Fear Of Fong - A Passing Wind

It is noticeable that many Singaporeans shun their vegetables.

Apart from the vegetarians you will often see people in the Heartland food centres (and especially the young) just eat their meat and fish, nibbling on their greens and leaving them on the plate.

Even when they buy a meat and vegetable dish from the Rice table stall it is often the vegetables that remain forlornly on the plate once they have departed.

Coming from a western culture, this is a somewhat surprising revelation. To paraphrase religious texts "Man cannot live on curry puffs alone"

I suspect it is also due to the old Chinese (mainly Cantonese) belief that certain foods including raw vegetables give you "Fong". The nearest western equivalent term is "wind".

This is not an uncommon phenomenon in the human body and Mel Brooks even made a movie, "Blazing Saddles" which incorporated a running gag about the effect of beans.

The Fear of Fong however has more direct consequence amongst the local populace. It also applies to much raw fruit so I can imagine that there are a significant number of people who are not getting the nutrients they need.

Our fellow diners look askance as we order and tuck into a large vegetable salad. Fresh vegetable are certainly not cheap in Singapore as, almost without exception, they are imported.

Actually all this talk of Hawker Centres raises another and more pressing matter. The second generation of hawker families are due for retirement and the third generation in many cases have no plans to succeed them.. This means that much of the traditional hawker fare will be lost forever as the recipes are jealously guarded and handed down through the families.

Today being Sunday I have enjoyed my weekly swim in the condo pool - breaststroking my way through various assorted inflatable animals and water craft that are loaded to the gunwales with excited Asian children of various nationalities.

We have more Expats in our condo now as the high rents in right in the centre of Singapore are driving them to accommodation such as ours - a short bus trip away from Orchard Road.

Ang Mo tend to sunbathe like beached white whales around the pool, especially those from Europe who remain oblivious to the threat of skin cancer. The Chinese prefer to watch the goings on from the shade and the Japanese women all sport wide-brimmed sun hats.

It's time to stop writing and go to our favourite family restaurant "Jacks Place" for Sunday lunch - I have date with a green salad.

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