We are on holidays!
(I’ve taken a break from work, blogging, and all social media til now. After 24 hours away from the office, I didn’t even think about the project that had consumed almost all of my waking hours. Apparently I’m not an incurable workaholic!)
First on our holiday itinerary was a stopover in Singapore. A country almost squarely on the equator, it was hot, humid, hot, and did I mention hot? The temperature, I think, hovers around 30°C / 86°F, and the frequent tropical storms brought cooler temperatures, such a relief in the early afternoons.
Being in the tropics does funny things to your taste buds. On our first night, tired from the flight and dazed from the tropical heat, we found bowls of soup noodles and two generous bottles of Tiger beer in a hawker style food hall. The ice cold beer, pale in colour and light in taste, was one of the most refreshing things I have ever had.
And the noodle soup. Mine was a simple broth flavoured with a casual handful of fresh clams, lightened by barely cooked buk choy. Mr Gander had freshly made dumplings. After 8 hours in a plane, these simple bowls revived our appetites and made us look forward to the morning.
Another time, I had a bowl of pork soup. Pork joints boiled until falling apart tender, the rich broth flavoured with soy sauce, with slices of just crunchy lotus roots – and peanuts boiled until they are soft and creamy in texture. This is the soup from my childhood in China. Finding it unexpectedly in Singapore made me suddenly nostalgic for barely remembered things.
It seemed that everywhere we went, there was good food waiting to be found. Walking through Little India, we rested in a street side restaurant and had marsala tea in steel cups, hot, frothy, fragrant with spices. Every street corner had a curry restaurant, and every second shop had sacks of fragrant, heady spices and scary looking chillies, and other unknown things.
There were durian pancakes from a stall near Chinatown, and kaya. Kaya – coconut jam – has become my obsession when in Singapore, and this time, Mr Gander also became a convert. A traditional Singapore breakfast is two soft boiled eggs and kaya toast: golden outside, buttery, sweet and jammy inside. Served with dark, strong coffee poured from theatrical large kettles and intensified by sweet condensed milk, this is such a south east Asian take on European food.
Each time in Singapore I have been fascinated by the cultures and languages that reveal its colonial history and its present-day society.
Although most people speak some English (fluently), it is common to hear two, or three, languages used in the same conversation. The woman selling fish head congee or the old man pouring coffee spoke Chinese, Malay, and English. This seems to be a real polyglot society, and it shows in the food.
As for the city, those amazing flat palm trees or travellers palms, I will let photos show you. Back soon with more photos and a couple of things I baked before going on holidays, if we find free internet around the Isles of Harris and Lewis of Scotland…