Singapore Adventure

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Heaty Ain't A Word
by venitha

Having come down with my first real cold of this adventure, I've had plenty of time lying awake at night sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, stuffy head, fever (Do you think they sell NyQuil here? I wonder if it's taxed like alcohol. If not, hey! It's probably nasty mixed with hot chocolate, though. Orange juice? Even worse. It's not so bad just as a shot. Am I keeping you up? I can stop talking and cough some more.) to lament the high price of alcohol, to contemplate the concept of "heaty" foods, and to harass via 2am phone calls into putting me on his surgery schedule without having met me. I know, I know, not so smart to annoy a man who will soon (July 20) be cutting me open, but I actually only harassed his assistant, it wasn't 2am in her time zone, and if Dr. Martin doesn't appreciate such a clever appellation (courtesy, of course, of Jim), I'm not sure I want him succeeding Doogie Howser in seeing my tibial plateau in all its naked re-fused glory.

But back to "heaty" foods. Apparently inspired by the same fuzzy logic that insists that hot soup keeps you cool, more than a few Singaporeans have assured me that heaty foods cause colds when consumed in excess. So have I over-indulged in that most villainous of "heaty" foods, chocolate? No, not possible, and if it were, I'd have been beset by colds fairly constantly for the last 37 years. Durian? Hardly. Mangoes? Wait a minute. Aren't mangoes good for you and, if anything, don't they prevent a cold? Or is all that mango goodness used up in preventing the dreaded feckles? I'm so confused.

"No, no more mangoes. Balance," the fruit vendor announced with authority, "is key. You need cooling. A melon."

"Is there anything you don't sell that might help?" Brenda Vaccaro's voice asked with a wink.

"Green tea."

"Caffeine? Then I'll never sleep. How about blowing this stuffiness out of my head with a tom yum soup?"

"No, no, no! Too heaty. Here. Orange. One set two dollar."

At last, we agree on something.

Other important food facts, all gleaned during a year of rigorous interviews:
  • Consuming pineapples during your period will make it last several days longer.
  • During your month-long confinement after the birth of a child, you must consume lots of "heaty" foods like sesame oil and ginger to replace the heat of the baby or you will have terrible arthritis later in life.
  • "Heaty" foods are masculine and make men more potent.

In spite of its common use in Singaporean conversation and in spite of the regular arguments Jim and I have when one or the other of us finds the word in , is not in the dictionary.