Singapore Adventure

Sunday, October 16, 2005

by venitha

Wheeling dashingly on a zippy pair of Heelys into the tween-aged gap in our lives is our newest friend in Singapore, 9-year-old Sebastian.

Ways in which Sebastian is the same as most American 9-year-old boys:
Ways in which Sebastian is different from most American 9-year-old boys:
  • He plays badminton.
  • He has never seen snow.
  • He calls me and Jim Auntie and Uncle.
Jim and I have a few things in common with Sebastian's parents, Benny and Helen, too. We all live in the Pasadena, Bennie is an engineer, and they've been expats, spending a year in a small town in England, where they quickly depleted the rice stocks of every store. The depletion part is actually not something that we have in common, though Jim and I did make a valiant attempt in Bangkok to eat all the pineapples.

Our most important common trait, however, is that we all five love spicy food, and Jim and I were lucky enough to be treated to both their delightful company and a deliciously fiery dinner at a Malaysian/Indonesian restaurant last weekend:
  • Sambal sotong. That's spicy calamari in America. And this version is even more delectable than the deep-fried variety common in the US.
  • Beef rendang. An exquisite beef curry. Oh, yeah. Divinely tender and a slow sultry burn. This is my favorite of our dishes.
  • Chicken McNuggets a la Singapore. I don't remember the official name of this dish, but it's chicken, still on the bone, and deep-fried. Bone-in is the norm here and is hard for an American to get used to. Even now that I know to expect bones, I'm at a loss for the proper dining etiquette. I guess I should be thankful we're not expected to eat this with chopsticks.
  • Sambal spinach? I don't remember the technical name for this dish either, and I now fear that we need to photograph not only all of our food, but also the menu. Combine this uncouth behavior with our poor dining etiquette, and it's a good thing we've got such sparkling personalities, or no one would ever dine out with us again.
    Savory spinach cooked to feverish perfection in zesty chili. Given the amount of this that Sebastian ate, I'd say that such preparation is an excellent way to get children to eat their veggies. But would it help broccoli? Sebastian is quite certain that, unfortunately, it would not.

  • Otak-otak. An ambrosial fish concoction grilled in banana leaves. This could have been spicier, so I was thankful for the...
  • Chili. We all used lots of it. Flaming, blazing, blistering, sizzling chili. They had to bring us seconds.

Jim and I can only hope that we didn't embarrass our new friends so terribly by photographing all of our food that we won't get to enjoy both their delightful company and lots more deliciously fiery food in the future.

We promise Sebastian that we'll eat all the broccoli.