Sedap means yummy in Malay and ‘lah’ is that word that us Singaporeans pepper our sentences with to add flavour to the language that we have appropriated from our colonial masters.
The Singaporean English is now infused with words that are lent to us by the Malay, Chinese and Hokkien (Fukien) languages and even, believe it or not, from the French. It is what makes cooking and eating so exciting too because instead of describing a dish as ‘not bad!’, we can say that it’s ‘boy pai!’ in Hokkien which really means that the dish is good but bordering on mediocrity. ‘Hao Chi!’ in Mandarin, ‘bagus’ and ‘sedap’ in Malay all mean delicious. This mélange of languages adds depth to our cooking and food vocabulary – the Singaporean food lingo is extremely flavoursome.
Follow me kawan kawan, a Singapore girl, on my journey through the French, Asian and European cuisines. I will be cooking and eating my way during my sojourn in Paris.
Who am I? I was born in Singapore in a very prestigious year, of course. The day being in the middle of January makes it rather difficult to ascertain if I am a Chicken or a Monkey since Chinese New Years usually come in late January or early February. Hence, fortune tellers, if you believe in them, have always assured my parents that I will always have the head of a Chicken and the tail of a Monkey – both very good signs which will bring wealth and success. The head of a Chicken and the tail of a Monkey? That sounds rather grotesque if you ask me, so I just tell people who ask me “What animal year were you born in?” that I am a Monkey. I prefer the monkey to the chicken although I do possess character traits from both astrological animals. Some may call this bi-polarism but I rather like the term eclecticism. As for success and wealth, that’s what all fortune tellers tell parents. And if their children were to be born in an inauspicious year and time, there are many mambo jambo things that can be done to rectify that. Fortune tellers, aye?
Where am I? I live in Paris only having just moved here from London after a long sojourn there. I gave in to the Italian’s persuasion to move to the Eurozone when he was head hunted for a new job, giving up my luxurious 5 bed house and garden in a leafy area of London swapping it for a 3 bed appartement in an expatriate arrondissement of Paris. I speak French, but only enough to allow me to eat and shop. I can’t have political discussions in la langue Française nor do I want to at this stage of the game. It’s too complicated and fatiguing and I haven’t anything nice to say about Sarkozy and his Femme either.
Why am I blogging? Well, that is the question that the Italian wants to know too since my new found obsession with this blogging business means that no one eats until I photograph the dishes. The Italian finds this very amusing and the children chorus, “Photo!” whenever I am too famished to remember and start to dig in. I like food, eating being a very Singaporean pass time next to shopping. I like to eat good food and talk about it to my friends and family. I love to discuss how something tastes and how a dish is plated or looks. I love that dishes have histories and stories to tell and that certain recipes have been used for generations in the same family, like the see yew bak (Teochew soya sauce Pork) that my grandmother used to cook and that my mother still cooks, and one that I have learnt to make for the family or the recipe that my MIL uses every year for the Christmas turkey that comes from her hand written cook book that has pages yellowed from 50 years of usage. Living in Paris has also opened a new door my way in terms of eating. I am not a fan of French food, to be honest since I don’t like drenching my meat or fish in sauces made usually with butter. C’est horreur! you say “how can she not like French food, the best cuisine in the world?” Well, “she is honest”, you ought to add. But that’s just me. I like French food but only haute cuisine along with haute couture, mais bien sûr. That can’t be helped though since being vain and self indulgent are rather Chicken-like traits, coupled with good and expensive tastes, to the chagrin of my husband, but he loves me! So this is a project to discover the foods of Paris – French, Asian, North African and Italian influenced. The latter being because I am married to an Italian who also loves to eat but doesn’t cook. With me for a wife, he really doesn’t need to, so he thinks. So together with mia famiglia, we are enroute to eating our way through France and Italy and the bits of Asia that has implanted herself in this continent. And of course, I will be bugging – erm – blogging you with all of my cooking and eating experiences.
Who takes the photos? Well, that would be me with my new Sony Cyber Shot point and shoot. Some photos are taken with my iphone 3. You are very welcome to use the photos if you think them good enough. But please may I ask that you link them back to me. If you feel sorry for me because I don’t own a professional camera, please feel free to sponsor me one if you see fit. I will always add your name to the photos to be taken as a token of appreciation.