Thursday, July 3, 2008

Eating for a Living

Alright - I might as well come out and say it - I love my food... alot. This should come as no surprise given the theme of this blog but I thought it would make this posting alot more palatable (bad pun I know) for all involved if I just confessed upfront.
I have long wondered why I am the way I am. Neither of my parents enjoy cooking and whilst they have always entertained and dined out, my siblings and I never really spent much time in the kitchen growing up. It was only during a recent trip to my parent's little hometown in Malaysia that shed some light on the subject.

I noticed on this visit that my extended family spend hours in the day (and night) just talking about food - planning what to eat for the next meal, debating where to sample the best local dishes, suggesting which markets to visit for the best ingredients... all whilst they gathered to make my grandmother's homemade rice dumplings. Love it or hate it - genetics has a big part to play in who you are as a person (how's that for an excuse next time I decide to indulge in an after lunch snack?)... and you can't blame genes. Did I also forget to mention that one of my uncles bakes for a living whilst another runs a restaurant?

And it was my restauranteur uncle (we'll call him Uncle G) who was the reason behind my recent binge eating session at various well established Chinese restaurants in Singapore. You see, Uncle G visits Singapore at least once a year to source ideas and inspiration for new dishes at his own restaurant back in Malaysia. He insists that any eatery needs to constantly evolve its menu in order to remain competitive. And so being the good Samaritan, I offered my services to assist him during his 4 days in Singapore - all in the name of research of course. What followed was actually more laborious than I had imagined. We visited 4 restaurants over the 4 days, being Huang Ting (located in the Central at Clarke Quay), Peach Blossoms (Marina Mandarin Hotel), Peach Garden (OCBC building) and Crystal Jade (Vivo City) and sampled a whopping total of 38 dishes. At each restaurant, we quizzed the waiters about the preparation of the dishes, jotted notes, took photos, studied presentation and discussed whether the dish was worth experimenting. The whole experience was pretty full on and I must admit that the novelty wore off towards the end of the second restaurant tasting.
Perhaps it had to do with the quantity we were eating (we were on a pretty tight schedule) but I was exhausted (and a little queasy) by the end of the four days. It wasn't even that the food wasn't good - there were quite a few highlights such as the lemongrass infused lamb rack with mint mayonnaise at Huang Ting, Deep fried cod fish coated in plum sauce and toasted almonds at Peach Garden and the Ginseng infused roasted duck at Peach Blossoms.

It was more that I began to feel like I was eating for a living instead of living to eat. I began analysing and dissecting each dish rather than appreciating the dining experience. Eating, in this case, became a science when really, food should just be an art. I mean the best food memories for me have always been the emotion and euphoria that are born of a fantastic meal rather than the understanding of how the dish came to be. By the end of the 4 days, I realised that I had done too much eating and too much thinking - all at the same time.

But like I said - you can't blame your genes.

1 comments:

kl July 3, 2008 at 10:13 PM  

Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaate,

i'm sooooooooooooooooooo bloody impressed by your secret life!!!!!!

Photos are great... so damn pro! and the writting..... mate, top english student so no comments needed.

Again,i have to say that i'm soooo impressed by this. Well done.

btw, how come sin huat @ geylang not here?

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