Thursday, December 15, 2005

Travel Blogging

Hello from Southeast Asia! We just got to Singapore this morning for a little holiday during the holidays. We end up coming here every December to visit my wife's family, so here's the latest installment. Since there's always interesting things I do and see while travelling, this blog will cover that stuff for the next few weeks. Better than doing an extended recap sometime in January, right?

Anyways, we've been here less than 8 hours and I've already had two meals. That's the strategy when here. There's so much good food, you've gotta keep eating. Otherwise there's not enough time to taste everything. And since I've already got favorites, I'm trying to hit those up a few times while here.

And to make this more interesting for all of you, I'm posting photos! What better way to ensure I blog consistently than to take photos of everything I eat and write about it? Well, okay, that doesn't sound too interesting, but I'll try to make it so.

So here goes...

First off, let me say that the best food in Singapore comes from Food Courts. Whether they be the traditinal Hawker Center or food courts in malls, the dishes are really authentic, varied, and quick. I wish American food courts could come even a little close to Singaporean food courts. I've only been to a couple restaurants during the many times I've come here and that only for specific dishes which take extra time to make and are best had in a quieter restaurant (like Pepper Crab)

Carrot Cake, Singaporean StyleCarrot Cake
This stuff has neither carrot, nor cake in it, but it's good stuff. It's actually made from daikon which has been congealed/gelatinized into slabs which are then cut up and wok fried with various sauces. I'm guessing the name comes from the fact that daikon is a root vegetable sort of like a white carrot and it's mashed up into cakes of congealed stuff. I first tried this dish with skepticism since the name and visual of the food are miles apart. I ended up liking it so much, I'm up for this item just about any time of the day. This is the "black" style since it uses a sweet soy sauce. Combined with spices, green onions, and the crunchiness of the corners of the diced bits, it's really tasty and satisfying. There's also a white style which is basically the same except without the sweet soy sauce.

Coke LightThis is obviously Diet Coke, but in the rest of the world, it's named Coke Light. I remember reading something a few yrs back about the introduction of Diet food and drink items in India and they didn't sell well. Not because they weren't good, but because of the stigma attached to being on a diet. Whereas Americans always seem to be on a diet, people in the rest of the world don't like to admit they're trying to reduce caloric intake, whether they need to or not. I think they started naming things "light" in India for this reason and I assume they do the same throughout the rest of the world. Anyways, just thought I'd mention it.

Oh, by the way, I had Brazilian Diet Pepsi while on the place (again, named Pepsi Light). I don't generally like Pepsi in either it's full sugar or diet versions, but United Airlines doesn't carry Coke products and I needed a soda (the carbonation is somehow very satisfying sometimes). So this Brazilian version had a distinct mediciny after taste. Quite nasty. Made me wish I had just stuck with water and wine. Even though I don't like Diet Pepsi in the States, it's because it's got a wierd sweetness to it, not because of a medeciny flavor. My conclusion was that the Brazilian Diet Pepsi is tuned to the Brazlian palette and I assume they like the taste of cough syrup. Whenever visiting other countries, I always find it interesting to notice differences in things which are nominally the same on the outside. For example, Coke in India tastes different from American Coke.

Mee SiamMee Siam
Soupy Rice Noodles seem to be a common item across Asian cultures. This version has a peanutty gravy which is soured up with this local variety of lime which is great in Asian food. The greatest thing about this dish? We get it from this little stall by the subway station down the block from my in-laws house. Isn't great when you can get great food from hole in the wall places? Isn't even better when you don't have to drive forever just to get to the food? Okay, we flew 6000+ miles to get this food, but still...

More later people...

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