The New Yorker Food Issue - Calvin Trillin takes on Singapore ~ Orderinny

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The New Yorker Food Issue - Calvin Trillin takes on Singapore

The New Yorker talks about all things food in this fortnight's issue, and in it is a heartfelt and hilarious laugh-a-minute piece by my favorite writer Calvin Trillin and his adventures in my favorite country, Singapore! So when he told me he was going to my hometown to eat the food I grew up noshing, on the day I was star-struck at Singapore Day, he wasn't lying!

To critics of Singapore's hawker system, who believe that street food only tastes sanitary, but not authentic in hawker centers, Mr Trillin offers this insight:

"For years as I've walked past food stands in foreign lands, I've struggled to keep in mind that for an American visitor the operational translation for signs that ostensibly say something like "bhel puri" or " tacos de nopales" is "Delivery System for Unfamiliar Bugs That You Will Bitterly Regret Having Ingested."... Gathering food venders into hawker centers, ..., meant that a Western visitor not only can have a safe shot at a variety of Singaporean delicacies but can do so in a setting so convenient that his energy is reserved for eating."
Take that, you hawker center detractors! Even locals do not have iron clad stomachs, so indeed the hawker center is a boon to all eaters of Singapore food.

I've loved Calvin Trillin's writing ever since I picked up an old copy of Alice, let's eat! , and to read his take on Singapore, the system, the people, and last but not least the food that we are all hungry for is an extraordinary treat. His description of the culinarily homesick Singaporean, whose first stop after a 15 hour transcontinental plane ride is not home but to Geylang/Newton/East Coast Park for their favorite local food fix is so evocative and so personal I couldn't help but laugh out loud, to the shock of the other patrons in the Korean restaurant where I was reading/supping. Mine happens to be Qiu Lian Ban Mian, and I do not even need to leave the airport for it. What's yours?

3 comments:

J. said...

oh man, now i have to run out and get this month's New Yorker! (the article is not available online.) sounds amazing. bet i'll be starving afterwards, too.

i usually go from the airport straight to the local hawker centre for breakfast - kuay chap, or mee pok, and kopi from the cofeestall uncle. perfect welcome home. :)

orderin said...

Hi! who is this?

aglassofwine said...

fishball noodles of course. :D