I realised I have failed to write about some of the more mundane things in my life, like say my lunch routine. When I first got to Singapore, I had a hard time when it came to my first meal of the day. This had a lot to do with the aromas around the hawker stalls.
There were things like fish soup and other items that I could only associate with a dinner meal, but that the locals will have at any hour. Many of the local dishes really don't appeal to me, especially for the first meal of the day. Examples would be things I don't want like tentacles, fish heads, lots of Chinese spices or vegetables. I'm sure that list could go on and on.
So once I found a dish I liked, it was easy for me to just order that one thing day after day. Now that's something a local would never do; they prefer to have something different each day and might wait for a week to a month before going back to something they had enjoyed. This has made me a bit of a novelty at my local shop.
My favorite stall is the second one in.
Now before I can consider eating a bite, I need coffee. I've been a coffee drinker for years and years, but the heat here makes drinking hot coffee a bit difficult. So needless to say, I was delighted to discover 'kopi peng' (iced coffee with sugar and milk) and of course it didn't take long for the gals who serve the drinks to realize that no matter what time of day it is, this is the drink I want, so I can now order mine with just a gesture. I hold one finger up if I'm alone or two fingers if I'm with my wife, and that will bring a ‘kopi peng’ and a ‘teh-o-peng’ (iced tea with sugar but without milk).
My iced goodness of the morning!
Besides that, I also enjoy the same ‘bak chor mee’ (minced meat noodles) every day, to the point that the guy at the shop tells his wife to prepare the 'ang moh special' (‘ang moh’ = Caucasian) when I place my order. Mind you, to place my order, I typically need only to give a thumbs-up. The guy is quite a character and I often refer to him as 'Mr Alibi', as it sounds like a Malay phrase he had once tried to teach me. Apparently ‘ada baik’ means 'How are you?' in Malay, but it sounded like ‘alibi’ to me and I've been told that his is a really bad pronunciation and that I should not be learning Malay from this Chinese guy anyway.
Lunch is served.
Chilli padi to help spice things up.
Now any local would know that the little dish of peppers called chilli padi contains more than is typically given out. The reason I get so much is again part of what makes me a novelty here. I eat ‘em all with my meals. My wife has overheard conversations of locals telling others about how this ‘ang moh’ eats so much chilli padi, more than the average local even, and doesn't drink beer. Apparently this has made me a bit of legend here even if I just find it comical.
With all the chilli padi thrown in, the next step is to mix it all up and cut the noodles down so I can get a spoonful more easily.
So that’s how just my lunch has made me the talk of the town. I even manage to see how different our cultures are from just a simple meal and think that I will just enjoy these differences and watch for more lessons that I can learn as I go through life.