Monday, November 05, 2007

Nostalgia Food

There is the cafe culture and then there is the kopitiam (literally coffee shop) culture in Singapore. Falling into the cafe category would be all the "western" coffee chains which in my now enlightened opinion (after living in Sydney for almost 2 years) serve overpriced coffee which tastes more like a weak-bodied, coffee-flavoured dishwater (ok so technically I've never tasted dishwater, but you get the idea). In the kopitiam category would be all the "non-western" coffee chains which had suddenly enjoyed a revival of traditional, "local" coffee served in cool air-condition comfort, in a nostalgic ambience. The fact that they have evolved into "chains" testifies to their success in the revival.

I go to the kopitiams and I always order a teh-c, never a kopi. I had no idea why they called it a teh-c until I read one of those nostalgic menus with some story about grandpa from Hainan island, China crossing the Nanyang seas to Singapore and setting up a coffee shop and using Carnation evaporated milk in the tea. Hence, teh-c (for Carnation milk). It all makes sense. I guess I am a creature of habit and I have a fixed set of habits for a fixed venue. Kopitiams mean teh-c to me. Cafes mean latte (now soy latte since I've given up milk). On the weekends, cafes mean a soy flat white. That's how it is, don't ask me to explain.

Accompanying the teh-c, is of course the de rigueur kaya toast. Kaya is the local version of an egg/coconut/brown sugar custard jam that you spread on bread. Extremely sweet and yummy. Needless to say, it is a hazard to health in large (in not so large quantities, I guess it is a mere hazard to the waistline) quantities. But then again, who was the wise person who had succinctly summarised that "everything that I like is either illegal, immoral or fattening." ? (a quick Google search throws up Alexander Woollcott as the author) Anyway, I couldn't resist a photo of that sharp, pointy mountain of butter on the counter with the jars of kaya. It's kinda res ipsa loquitur (for the non-lawyers, it means "the thing speaks for itself" in Latin).

On a slightly less decadent note, these are one of my favourite, childhood snack which has also made a comeback in the past not-so-few years. Kueh Tutu - rice flour cake with a sweet filling of dessicated coconut in brown sugar.

It is so true that everything I like is fattening. (My profound knowledge of the law and the fear of being caught and the consequences following, prevent me from delving into the illegal realm... and I haven't worked out the immoral bit yet.)

Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home