Sunday, February 28, 2010

Heart & soul

I recently caught an interesting programme on the Chinese language TV station, a locally produced series called Hometown Flavours. Every week, it features a local television actor or actress, and explores a home-cooked dish particular to that person's dialect group. It looks at how it is cooked in Singapore with maybe a short sequence shot at a hawker stall or restaurant that sellls the dish, then cuts to China where the actor tastes it in a local restaurant and talks about the difference. Then he is sent to the market to get the ingredients and must cook the dish with a local family.

In the episode I watched was a scene where a Hakka actress is in a China market getting ingredients for lei cha (literally, thunder tea -- it is herbs, peanuts and sesame seeds ground into a paste which is turned into a "tea" with hot water. That is poured over a bowl of cooked rice topped with spoonfuls of different diced vegetables, peanuts and beans. You stir it up into a sort porridge of leftovers, that's what it essentially is.) Anyway, at the China market, the actress was peppering the stallholder with questions of what sort of vegetables to buy and how much to get. From off camera, you could hear the stallholder's wife scolding him. So the actress went over to Mrs Boss and tried to engage her conversation, and Mrs Boss just snapped back: "Why should I waste my time talking to you even if you are filming? You just talk and you don't buy anything."

And this is why I don't buy Chinese. No customer relations and no PR, and absolutely no heart, whether it is a market stall or a milk powder producer or pet food manufacturer, it's always just the cold hardnosed bottom line.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Fleeting moment of fame

... here, at about 2 minutes into the video. Closest I'll ever get to a Pulitzer. :)

A visitor

... and over Chinese New Year too. This praying mantis on the outside ledge of the living room floor-length window had the dogs in a tizzy -- directly at nose height but on the other side of the glass. So near and yet so far.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Festive abundance

This display of Chinese New Year goodies is for the benefit of overseas Singaporean friends who need a pineapple tart fix. [evil grin]. (The bak kwa isn't in this picture because it's in a tupperware in the kitchen. So consider yourself spared. [even bigger grin]) You can take a foodie out of Singapore, but you can't take Singapore out of a foodie.

Actually, I hardly ever buy so much CNY goodies because I have few visitors and don't want to be the one taking on all the calories by myself. But this year, I had a bumper harvest, primarily because my mother's neighbour set up a home-baking business, invited her to be quality control and mum outsourced the job to me. Talk about the benefits of job sharing.

We also had an excess of mandarin oranges because our Malay neighbours presented us with a some. And since they didn't have hongbao, they did the next best thing -- possibly an even better thing -- they gave us a flat box of chocolates that came in a red wrapper.

Gongxi facai. Wishing everyone an uproariously happy and prosperous Year of the Tiger.

All dressed up

... and somewhere to go. Chinese New Year visiting, to the grandparents. And yes, they got hongbaos.

We'z gotta look sharp. We can't let a big cat get all the attention just because it's the Year of the Tiger.