Singapore Adventure

Thursday, November 03, 2005

by venitha

Oddly, three separate people, all of whom, I think, like us, listed tambun, or one of its many aliases, among the foods that we must try in Penang. Jeverina, a friend from Malay class, even sent us e-mail calling it "my favorite... haha". I had thought that haha is the Singaporean equivalent of the smiley face =), though now I wonder if I've got it wrong and haha is instead tantamount to the villainous bwa-ha-ha-ha laugh of an evil arch nemesis.

Friday night in Penang, following a tasty, but very fried and probably very MSG-laden, Penang hawker centre supper of Char Kway Teow and Hokkien Mee, both also on our die-die-must-try food list, we perk up out of our cholesterol-induced haze when our walk home takes us by a shop crammed with boxes upon boxes of tambun. Just when we're craving something sweet: bagus! Satu kecil, er... one small box, please. Terima kasih! As we make our way through the maze of vendors packing Jalan Penang from the towering Komtar building to our hotel, though, we cautiously nibble our tambun with puzzlement.

A little sweet and a little salty, a flaky (this is good) crust surrounds a powdery (this is bad) stuffing. Mostly, the flavor is really... onion-y? In a dry do-you-have-any-water-left and a lingering let's-stop-and-get-some-gum way. It's not bad exactly, but it isn't good, and criminy, this is supposedly dessert?!? In the light of our hotel room, we examine the box, and the stuffing ingredients are revealed to be onions, no surprise, and green beans.

Okay, that's it. I've been a good sport, but no more. Tonight I'm laying down a new law. I no longer have to try so-called desserts that contain beans, of any sort. Other offending items already on the "been there, done that, not doing that again, and no one is allowed to give me shit about it" list: durian, deep fried anything, and glutinous anything.

Jim, when I spell out this latest amendment to my rule book, adds one of his own: jellied worms. It's a deal. We shake on it, and Jim escorts the rest of our box of tambun to the garbage can by the elevator.

The ubiquitous jellied worms are just suggestive of worms and do not contain any actual worm parts to my knowledge.