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Exotic Eating Experiences

Exotic Eating Experiences

April 03, 2011
Maria Francis

Come join me on a culinary journey into the unknown.



When I think about packaged food in India, my mind automatically conjures up images of cold tetraPaks of mango Frooti (fresh and juicy), packets of crunchy Kurkure (can never have enough of Kurkure, can you?) and rows of instant flour mixes pledging loyalty to India's long standing tradition of hearty carb-filled breakfasts.

The Singaporean supermarkets however have a different story to tell. And I, being the eternal experimenter of all things strange and wonderful, bring you the lowdown on what's hitting the aisles at our local stores.

The Go Green movement

Singaporeans are all about doing things the Green way. And this applies to their beverages too.

If you picture the average Indian sipping on a Frooti, then the average Singaporean is sipping on his/her green tea. They come in tetrapaks, bottles and cans and people are guzzling it down by the litre. Green tea flavour has crept its way into every possible food here. There are green tea noodles, ice creams, soya milk, cakes and rolls. The local Starbucks even sells a green tea latte which I have not yet mustered up the courage to try out.

Redefining seafood

The Indian understanding of seafood is mainly restricted to fish, crabs, prawns, etc. So I was quite taken aback while browsing through a tempting array of Ruffles Lays packets and I spotted a packet of dried seaweed nestled amongst them. Yes, actual seaweed. Although I have to tell you it is most definitely edible and actually very delicious. Comes in chilly flavour too for the Indian palate.

Then there's shellfish, abalone, octopus, eels and other odd things that you don't know how to cook. Seafood here is pretty much anything which lives underwater. Nothing is spared. On that note, you might even find the odd raw lotus root slice or white fungus floating in your soups.

Beverages that Baffle

The milk aisle will have your usual array of whole, low-fat, skimmed and 2% milk and oooohh…what's this? As I move nearer to get a closer look, I am initiated into a world of strange soya milk flavours. Apart from plain soya milk, you are offered options as bizarre and diverse as almond, black sesame seeds, green tea (again) and pomegranate.

Bubble teas are another local favourite. Though at first glance, it looks like someone has taken a practical joke too far and dropped a few small black marbles into the drink. I soon realised that these 'marbles' were rather tasty - squishy balls of yam paste that gave your drink a definite 'kick' to it. This drink gets a 'Must Try' from me.

Also worth mentioning is the dizzying array of strange, 'other-worldly' drinks made of ingredients which you rarely ever ate, let alone made a drink out of. Here are a few examples: White Chrysanthemum Tea, Grass Jelly, Winter Melon Tea and Water chestnut Drink. Get the drift?

Here Kitty, Kitty....

The Hello Kitty brand has generated a cult mass following in Singapore. To a creepy extent. There are entire shops dedicated to the big-headed, passive, expressionless white kitty. Entire bedrooms disguised as temples to Kitty paraphernalia. Cars covered in Kitty covers, photos framed with Hello Kitty borders and even personalised Hello Kitty panties! But Quails eggs? Frozen chicken feet? Tofu puddings? They are all here and more. And each day, I shake my virgin palate out of its comfort zone, discovering a new 'exotic' food. 

9 Comments

  • Ranjini Hannah
    By
    Ranjini Hannah
    21.04.11 11:55 AM
    oh my my.......green tea overdose is bearable.....but hello kitty?? i can never figure out in this lifetime what's so cute about that cat(it's not cute people!!)

    I loved it when you mentioned that when it comes to seafood, they don't spare anything that's underwater.....wait till PETA hears about this......and let's wait to see which celebrity they're gonna send underwater in Singapore to 'PETA' protest....!! I really admire your flow of words.....will drinkning green tea do any good for my writing skills?? let me know once you try the 'maccha' latte :D :D
  • Maria
    By
    Maria
    05.04.11 03:13 PM
    Hmmm....now I am indeed inspired to Go Green. Must try out this concoction at the earliest.
  • Barnaby Haszard Morris
    By
    Barnaby Haszard Morris
    05.04.11 02:11 PM
    I loved green tea lattes in Japan, known as 'maccha latte'. It was my favourite drink in Starbucks. Along the way I learned it was a 'chick drink', and my male Japanese friends would often snigger when I ordered one.

    Be different, that's my motto.
  • Maria
    By
    Maria
    05.04.11 06:57 AM
    @Ajit : I can see you have a familiarity with the Durian Effect :)
    @AngryGanu : Donkey meat is something which is on my to-eat list actually!
    @Vyanks: Trust me, green tea latte is probably one of the more saner drinks here :D
    @Nisha : I see Cactus plants in the vegetable section all the time. Have pondered a while about taking one home, but I am still in the stage where I am not sure how to pick them up, drop them in a plastic cover (which tends to tear) and get them all the way home without getting a nasty case of Bloodied Fingers.
  • Nisha
    By
    Nisha
    05.04.11 12:21 AM
    I had the most shocking moment when I found cactus leaves among the vegetables in supermarket. Don't know how it is cooked with all those thorns
  • Vyankatesh
    By
    Vyankatesh
    04.04.11 05:31 PM
    Great insights!!

    Green Tea Latte sounds something interesting.

    Quite brave of you to try out these stuff :-)
  • Angry Ganu
    By
    Angry Ganu
    04.04.11 04:45 PM
    Green tea is a regular in many of the Asian countries. China too consumes a lot of Green tea. In fact more than water.

    Same could be said about the sea food that is had in these countries. Virtually anything that swims could be found on the menus.

    One of the best and different things that I ate in China was the donkey meat. And it tasted quite good. Wish someone had told it to me before I ate it though.
  • Ajit
    By
    Ajit
    04.04.11 01:49 PM
    Oops, I actually meant that its good you did NOT mention durian in this article.
  • Ajit
    By
    Ajit
    04.04.11 01:48 PM
    Nice article. Short and crisp. Just like a piece of kurkure. Its good that you mentioned about durian in this article, otherwise the smell would have stopped me from reading this one!

    Keep the words flowing, just like green tea Singapore.

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