I enjoy Math Paper Press' anthology of food in its 'Twenty-Four Flavors'. Picked up Issue 4 'Salted Vegetables and Duck Soup' and Issue 5 'Chicken Rice'. 24 stories of 250 words each, written by 24 writers.
The broadsheets are an easy flip. Thoroughly enjoyable. The stories are mostly humorous, sometimes dark, and very compact. Bought these issues as gifts for visitors in town as well. Can't quite extract quotes from each story without giving away the details. Will quote from their forewords written by Kenny Leck, co-founder and publisher of Math Paper Press.
I usually drink soup without eating any of the contents used in the boil. In Issue 4 'Salted Vegetables and Duck Soup', I know it as 'itek tim'. I've no problems with the soup, but I won't touch the duck or the salted vegetables. Always thought it tasted weird.
Comfort food. Cholesterol food. Homecooked food. Heart attack food. Whatever one calls it, the dish SALTED VEGETABLES AND DUCK SOUP is no longer as commonly available as say Black Chicken Soup. Even the art of cooking a good bowl of soup can no longer be taken for granted.
This dish is generally not considered a health tonic, but one served in a family setting. The soup sits in the centre of the table, and portions of duck, SALTED VEGETABLES, and soup are re-distributed into smaller bowls and given to each member of the family seated around the table.
Avoiding chicken nowadays, I indulge in the occasional steamed white chicken skin and sometimes, the rice. But mostly, I can do without them. If I've to sit down at a chicken rice stall, I'd like it to be Five Star or Pow Sing, or somewhere that has other types of food on the menu besides chicken. Issue 5 'Chicken Rice' discusses this much revered almost-national dish. It's really one of those national dishes that are inoffensive and hard to find a terrible version of it. Had to buy this for a visitor because he was completely obsessed with chicken rice, and ate it almost daily in the three weeks he was in town.
Chicken Rice can even be a National Bonding dish. It is enjoyed by all four races - and more - in Singapore, and it can be eaten 365 days throughout the year. How delightful it would be if there was an Annual Open House for 'Eat All You Can Chicken Rice' at the Istana during the National Day weekend. At least, President Tony Tan wouldn't be stereotyped as Colonel Sanders that often.
During the monthly Meet-the-People sessions, complimentary packets of Chicken Rice could be given out too. It would get everybody in a lighter mood, and the common man, together with the politicians, even trade recipes to help improve the standard of Chicken Rice across the country.