Archive for the 'culture' Category

‘mental block’ against singapore food impossible to overcome

Snippet of a really interesting interview Bharati Jagdish conducted with chef Violet Oon in last year:

Jagdish: But in Singapore, how can this mental block about Singapore food be removed?

Oon: I think the only way it can move forward, honestly, is acknowledging that people are quite happy to pay for it in hotels. I go to Straits Kitchen, I’m quite happy to pay S$65 for this buffet.

Jagdish: Yes, but that’s so unfair to the poor guy who is cooking it in a hawker center in Bedok.

Oon: Yes, but there’s no other way. There’s such a mental block, I don’t think we can overcome it. You see, we brought these top restaurants around the world to Singapore and young people here start restaurants and they have what they call omakase menus. And they’re not even famous but it’s S$120 per person for a six-course meal and people are very happily paying it. The food cost is minimal, but you’re not paying for the food, but for the environment and you’re paying for the talent. You’re paying for that person’s talent in doing it.

My point is that if people are not happily paying more for hawker food, the hawker culture is definitely going to die, unless others like me take it and put it in their restaurants. At least I can charge more for it than the hawker can.

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gentrification?

One can’t help but agree with what hotelier Loh Lik Peng said in an interview with Bharati Jagdish:

Loh: The reality is that the vast majority of Singaporeans are not willing to pay more than S$2-S$3 for their mee pok, not willing to pay more than S$1.20 for their kopi-o. So these people are being pushed out. People will happily pay S$4 for their cappuccino. So the guys setting up their cappuccino stores are going to make much more money than the guys who do the traditional kopitiams.

Bharati: You’re saying this is consumers’ fault?

Loh: Absolutely! Absolutely. It’s the fault of Singaporeans. When people complain that the traditional trade is being pushed out, they must realise it’s also because they are not willing to pay the right price for these traditional goods. [Emphasis mine – recall my post on mooncakes.] They want to pay the price their parents paid, or the prices they paid in their childhood. Those prices are not relevant in today’s Singapore, so these businesses get pushed out to their margins, or get pushed to the government-subsidised hawker centres, because people are not realistic about the prices people should really charge to make a decent living in modern Singapore. That’s the reality.

overpriced mooncakes

Mooncakes are not overpriced, since so many people are queuing up willingly for them. Anyway, if shops can’t make money from mooncakes, soon nobody will want to make them at all. So just think of it as playing your part to preserve 5000 years of culture. Haha!

a flavour of Singapore identity is lost without muah chee

Identity is a funny thing, which is why this article struck a chord in me…… And it also made me crave muah chee, which I haven’t had for eons.

 

 

A flavour of Singapore identity is lost without muah chee
By Han Fook Kwang

The simple snack may not make big bucks but its value is built on factors like craftsmanship and tradition

Muah Chee is an unlikely subject when talking about the Singapore identity. But there is a connection which I will come to later.

It is a simple snack made of glutinous rice covered with ground peanut which doesn’t stir up the same passionate debate among local foodies as char kway teow or chilli crab.

Continue reading ‘a flavour of Singapore identity is lost without muah chee’

how much for the festive spirit?

As a person who likes to pick perfect presents, this article struck a chord with me……

 

How much for the festive spirit?
By Akshita Nanda

Let’s be honest: We’re all judging one another by how much we give and what we receive

‘Tis the season to be judged on your giving. Colour drains from wallet and brain in the face of yet another annual round of Secret Santa parties and gift exchanges with loved ones.

Walk into a mall and be further pierced by the eyes of fund-raisers in reindeer antlers. Their gazes narrow on my shopping bags, their teeth set in fixed grins. My steps falter.

Continue reading ‘how much for the festive spirit?’

you learn something new every day

There’s apparently a whole school of superstitions surrounding the Shakespearean play Macbeth!

losing kampung culture is part of progress

I thought this letter was a pretty interesting perspective on the ‘over-regulation’ of void deck usage.

 

Losing kampung culture is part of progress

The functions of our void decks are evolving, but this is not necessarily a bad thing (“Voiding the kampung spirit?“; March 17).

These changes occur due to the country’s progress, which alters people’s demand of their living environment.

Fifty years ago, the kampung lifestyle was an essential part of the then Third World Singapore. Fast forward 50 years, and our country has evolved to become a world economic hub.

Continue reading ‘losing kampung culture is part of progress’

you learn something new every day

Recently found out what wassail (mmm sounds delicious) and wassailing are.

separating your combustibles from your recyclables

Was looking through my Secondary 4 elective geography stuff when I found this rather entertaining newspaper article on recycling in Japan……

 

Separating your combustibles from your recyclables
By Kavitha Rao

Taking the garbage out is never much fun, but in Japan it is sheer agony. When I first arrived in Japan, I “oohed” and “aahed” over the exquisite groceries, especially the beautiful packaging, delicate ribbons, and the myriad gift-wrappings. That didn’t last long. Now, when I buy a charming box of rice crackers, I just worry about how much garbage I am going to have to dispose of.

The first thing every resident in Japan learns is how to sort garbage, or gomi, as it is called in Japanese. The second is how not to. How complicated could this be, you think? Very.

Continue reading ‘separating your combustibles from your recyclables’

don’t hold the mayo!

When I was in secondary school and junior college, we were made to read Newsweek as part of some reading programme. Somehow, out of the thousands of articles that my brain processed, this is the only one that stands out in my mind after all these years. (Naturally I quickly located a copy online and reproduce it for posterity below.) Probably because I’m quite a fan of mayo (especially Japanese) myself!

 

Don’t Hold The Mayo!

Kouji Nakamura mixes a cocktail in his shaker, squeezes a bit of mayonnaise into it, gives it a good shake and voila! “This is mayogarita,” he declares, putting down a glass of milky white stuff that smells like vinegar. Next he concocts a “mayoty dog,” which is like a salty dog–vodka and grapefruit juice–with the rim of the glass coated in mayo instead of salt. If that makes you flinch, wait until dinner arrives: a pot of mayonnaise fondue, followed by a plate of chopped celery and octopus swimming in tomato and mayonnaise sauce. At the next table, a young couple slices a big, mayo-filled pizza. It’s a typical Saturday night at Mayonnaise Kitchen, Japan’s first mayo-themed restaurant. When Nakamura, 31, opened the eatery in a Tokyo suburb two summers ago, he recalls, “some said, ‘Who would come to a place that just serves mayonnaise?’ ” Plenty of people, as it turned out; Nakamura opened his second Tokyo restaurant last April.

Continue reading ‘don’t hold the mayo!’

flipping prata

When it comes to prata, one egg and one kosong (plain) are usually just nice for me. And somehow they taste best with fish curry. Its sourness cuts through all those carbs and prevents one from feeling too jelak (satiated). Prata and curry…… possibly one of the best breakfasts you can get in this sunny little island!

you learn something new every day

The Pennsylvania Dutch, a group of early emigres to America, were not from the  Netherlands, but Germany. (Their language shares the same name.)

you learn something new every day

Bombonieres is a high-sounding, bombastic word for ‘party favours’!

you learn something new every day

Read this interesting article and discovered the word plastrons, or the underside of turtle or tortoise shells!

my surreal connection to my ancestral home

This article really made me want to take a similar trip back to China…… perhaps next year?

My surreal connection to my ancestral home
By Lisabel Ting

It is a human desire to return to where we came from and to know what has come before

Three weeks ago, I made a trip to Fuzhou in China with a dozen members of my extended family.

Continue reading ‘my surreal connection to my ancestral home’


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