Monday, October 20, 2008
Satisfying my cravings
Till this day, I still find my love of food to be an utter blessing. I'm glad I enjoy eating. It does sound tragically mundane but it's really not. That's because I do know some people who find eating a chore. I find that to be quite a pity though. Look at it this way - we have three meals a day to play with (some say more, especially those who snack, including me) and I would say it can be exciting, the anticipation that creeps up prior to a meal as I ponder, dream or crave the food that I'm to partake. You know me, I'm the girl who thinks about what to have for dinner even before I've gone out for lunch. And there are those times when watching food porn on Tastespotting simply triggers a random food outburst, or yearning. It's no joke. It's dangerous to look at photos of food when I'm hungry. I just want to peel off the liquid crystal layers of my laptop and hope that I can find a sliver of that vividly rich velvet cake somehow.
In some ways, I think food cravings are fun. I enjoy the process. To me, it's a game. A game where I try to sense what I feel like eating. At times, it can seem weird. Take for example just now - I was walking home in the pouring rain (with my trusty green umbrella of course) and I passed by a block of flats and just for that few seconds, my nose picked up the comforting scent of curry. Yes, piping hot, and bubbly curry. It was a quick scent so I was not able to pick out what type of curry it was. All I know is that for that split second, I could picture a bowl of that spicy thick broth paired with warm toasted french loaves ready to be coated with that golden sauce of heaven to be consumed by me. You can tell that I was hungry. I make no effort to disguise that. It was nearly 9.30pm and I haven't had dinner, save for some instant miso soup (bought from Daiso) I made in the office at 7pm. You bet I wished the curry smells came from my home. I secretly wished that Dad had cooked curry. I wasn't disappointed to find out that I might have just encountered a pseudo craving because of my hunger. Dad was preparing chicken salad and I was thrilled - both because I was hungry and the fact that his salad rocks. It's a simple salad that's both easy to make and big on taste. More on those wonder greens another time.
What I'm trying to say is, when cravings come, don't hide or think that you are simply being greedy. I belong to the camp of people who pursue their cravings, no matter the time or day. Take for example last week. I had recently noticed a stall in Geylang selling bak kut teh. It was not just any normal bak kut teh. The signage said Klang bak kut teh. You could have guessed how intrigued I was. Thing is, I've been to Klang a couple of times because I have family there, but never once have I gotten a chance to taste any bak kut teh while I was there. So I told myself that I would come to check out the herbal soup at this stall one day. Little did I know that that 'one day' was going to be that same week. It's true. I"m not making this up. One evening after work, I was hungry and it was late as usual. My parents did not cook and I was just thinking of what to have for dinner when I suddenly pictured soup. Hot and steamy soup. Then I remembered the bak kut teh stall. And the rest as you know it, satisfactory slurping of soup and all, is the result of my craving.
It seems as though my craving encounters will never end. I have one more to tell before I go to bed. This one is the kicker. Why? Well, because you are about to find out what the best mee siam tastes like. Do take note that it is in my opinion so unless you like the same flavours as I do, you might not like the said dish, or rather, dishes.
On Saturday, I was on the bus, on my way to meet Dot in the morning to check out some stuff at East Coast Park. I was to meet her at Parkway Parade and on the bus, right smack in front of me was TV mobile (for my non Singaporean readers, this is a mobile TV set mounted in almost every bus all over the island. which literally translates into free TV when you'[re on the go). There was a food programme on the TV just when I was staring at the box, out of boredom. Then I saw close-up shots of carrot cake. Fried carrot cake, yes the oriental kind, in other words 'char tau kueh'. This carrot cake looked immensely sinful yet delicious. It was unique because the hawker uses fried ikan bilis as a topping and he adds extra 'icing' on his fried carrot cake to give it that extra kick - I wasn't sure what that extra ingredient was because the bus was too noisy.
Anyway, all I knew was that I had to have some fried carrot cake. I need not have that exact same one featured on the show but I knew that I had to get my hands on some. I immediately sms-ed Dot and told her about the carrot cake. This lass knows me best. She happily replied saying why not we go get some for lunch. That made me smile and you could have sensed my glee if you were right next to me. So I went to meet her at the foodcourt at Parkway Parade. They have a fried carrot cake stall that sold both white and black (white is without soy sauce, black contains soy sauce) versions on a 'yin-yang-esque' dish which cost $5:
The fried carrot cake was decent. It wasn't mind blowing but it did satisfy my craving. Dot seemed to like it too so that was good.
But of course we didn't just have fried carrot cake for lunch. Both of us have healthy appetites and our latest obesession (or mine for that matter) is this nonya-style mee siam sold at Parkway Parade's food court. I heard that it's been here even before Parkway underwent renovations. According to Dot, she grew up eating the stall's mee siam after mass every sunday. I was really taken by surprise because first of all, I've always seen people eating the huge plate of mee siam but I never thought much of it because I don't really like mee siam all that much. But oh boy was it all about to change. I think it has alot to do with the fact that this version is very Peranakan in taste.
This mee siam had a gravy that had a perfect balance of salty and tangy. A true indication of a genius use of assam and I believe fish stock? I hope I am right. All I know is that this watery gravy is meant to be drunk, every drop of it. I also like the fact that they gave plenty of bean sprouts, scallions and tau pok. There's also this wicked sambal you scoop from a huge porcelain bowl in front of the stall and onto your plate as you proceed to return to your table. Trust me, this sambal is IT. It is not your typical sambal. It is a nonya type of sambal, spicy but not too spicy, savoury but not too savoury. There are shallots in it too and you can so imagine eating it with lots of fried ikan bilis. This is only the second time that I am eating this mee siam and it still feels like love at first side. Believe me when I say that this mee siam beats all others hands down. Best part? It's only $3.70. Can you imagine that?
Not only do they sell some kick-ass mee siam, there's also curry chicken (which also rocks my socks by the way, but that is for another post), laksa, mee rebus, bean curd and chin chow jelly. Mind you, everything is made from scratch and that includes the bouncy shiny black jelly:
At first I was amused that a mee siam stall would sell home made chin chow. But then I realised what a smart idea that was. Topped with ice, this jelly is the perfect foil for those out there who have scorched tongues. It clearly is homemade - the texture of the jelly reveals that. It is neither too synthetic and neither do they use excessive flavouring. The cold dessert is ideal on a hot day.
After chowing down our carrot cake, mee siam and chin chow, we were clearly full. But we managed to walk it off with plenty of shopping. How's that for a random Saturday craving? Trust me when I tell you that this is only the beginning.
More tales of food cravings coming up soon....