Thursday, 8 December 2011

Do You Merit It?

Roti Prata
I am in favour of everything being based on merit although it has to be said that at least one of the Hawker centres I frequented was anything but meritorious. I am referring of course to the old version of the Mei Ling food centre which when we first arrived in Singapore was run down, and speaking frankly, grubby in the extreme.

However it must also be recorded that the government spent a considerable sum in upgrading Mei Ling with the result that before the hawkers moved back it was spic and span. But old habits of grubbiness die hard, a term that seems appropriate when describing the state of the newly renovated food centre a few short months after relaunch.

This was a pity as most of the hawker centres we frequented were of good standard. Now the NEA has indicted that it will assess requests for new food centre based on merit. So for the first time in over a quarter of a century the government will start building food centres in new housing estates, the first being in Bukit Panjang with ten more to follow within a decade.

Coupled with this initiative is a lateral thought that such centres could be much more than a 'gobble and go' eatery. A consultative panel has suggested that such places could promote graciousness which may be a stretch of the imagination, especially when one considers the packets of tissues placed on table tops which reserve a place.

However two of their other suggestions seem to have merit; such centres could offer employment for the disabled and for people who want to set up small businesses.

Mirroring the 'Meals on Wheels' idea found in places like New Zealand, the hawker centres could also deliver food to nearby homes housing the elderly. With an aging population this seems a pragmatic and sensible solution for those lacking mobility in their advancing years.

Get the TShirt
The combination of food centre and merit reminds me also of a recent conversation I had with my doctor, an expatriate Malaysian Chinese whose family emigrated to New Zealand several decades ago. He was bewailing the fact that Singapore's hawkers are not what they used to be. As he put it, too many recent immigrants to the Republic attempting to copy the classic Singapore dishes with varying degree of success.

I have to admit that he has point, as the traditional recipes and families jealously guarding them are getting our of the trade. While this is a great pity it is also a fact that any cuisine evolves with new influences contributing over time.

Promoting the value of the traditional fare is deemed to be important in Singapore and to be granted the title of "Singapore Hawker Master" is meritorious in itself. The award was launched early in 2011 to celebrate hawker food and give recognition to deserving hawkers.

According to the Straits Times the 'popular roti prata eatery Casuarina Curry Restaurant was named a Singapore Hawker Master at the Asian Masters Gala Dinner on Wednesday night'.

Those of us who have enjoyed a crisp Roti Prata would say "well deserved"

Previous winners of the Singapore Hawker master Award have included:

Laksa Category
Roxy Laksa
East Coast Lagoon Food Village #01-48

Char Kway Teow Category
Outram Park Fried Kway Teow
Hong Lim Temporary Food Ctr #01-44

Nasi Lemak Category
Haji Maksah Berkat Chahya Food (Boon Lay Power Nasi Lemak)
Blk 221B, Boon Lay Place #01-106

Chicken Rice Category
Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice
Maxwell Food Ctr #01-10

Bak Chor Mee Category
Xing Ji Rou Cuo Mian
Blk 85 Bedok North St 4 #01-07

Just the thought of the above makes me behave like one of Pavlov's dogs!

Enhanced by Zemanta

No comments: