Once upon a time, before I actually visited a mostly Chinese ethnic country, I thought I knew what Chinese food was, and it looks like this:
Imagine my surprise to not find egg rolls over there. No one knew what an egg roll was, unless they’d been here. There’s something similar called lumpia, but it’s not quite the same.
Chinese food in the US has been thoroughly Americanized, to make it more appealing to the local palate. The Chinese food I ate in Singapore was a lot blander in most cases, with most of the flavor coming from dumping lots of chili sauce on everything. That or eating green chilies along with each bite of food. There’s also a lot of MSG used. (Just a note, I’m basing this on the common Chinese food found in food stalls that a person would eat at on a daily basis, not expensive restaurants.)
[Update: It was very rudely brought to my attention by some piece of shit Singaporeans that I accidentally uploaded the wrong photo from my folder. I’m quite aware that this is ramen, a Japanese dish, most likely from that Japanese food court in Tampines 1. I can’t remember its name.]
That’s not to say that the food there, the ‘real’ Chinese food, was bad. On the contrary, a lot of it was awesome, and thankfully I did read about a place in NYC where I can get chicken rice and pork rice. The pictures looked similar to the dishes I grew to love in Singapore. I’ll blog about it when I find it and try it out myself.
One other thing, the orange duck sauce that you can find at most Chinese restaurants in the US? Ya, that’s nowhere to be found in Singapore that I saw.
Yesterday afternoon I was sitting at the kopitiam near where I live and I heard music, so I turned and looked up the road. I saw what I thought was a parade and, being curious, I started taking photos. I quickly finished my coffee and then moved down to the road where I could have a better view.
The decorations were very interesting and I thought the two guys wearing the costumes were very cool.
As another set of vehicles approached I noticed the music playing was more somber and mournful. The music playing from the lead vehicle had been cheerful and lively sounding by comparison. I then realized that the group of people following the vehicle were carrying an ornate wooden coffin above them, draped with flowers. I didn’t take a photo of them, or the coffin, out of respect for the recently deceased.
The smile quickly faded from my face and I waited respectfully as the funeral procession passed before walking back home. I guess not everything coming down the road playing music in Singapore marks a happy occasion.
The procession was similar to funeral processions in the US, but only vaguely. In the US a procession is usually led by two police on motorcycles, followed by a cavalcade of vehicles with the hearse at the tail end followed by two more police on motorcycles. It’s common courtesy and tradition (if not illegal to not do so) to pull over to the side of the road and wait for the procession to pass completely, before continuing down the road. By comparison, traffic on the road around the procession here in Singapore couldn’t have cared less from what I saw. One vehicle almost ran over some of the people walking while quickly turning onto a side road.
Another big holiday in Singapore (other than Christmas, where they go berserk with decorations) is Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year. Last year we missed it, but this year we’re planning on being front and center at whatever celebratory event Singapore has to offer.
With the holiday upcoming people are already starting to decorate. I’ve seen some decorations up at malls, but nothing too serious, yet anyway. The family we live with has also pulled out their decorations, which are pretty cool looking. I took some photos to share.