Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Three Bowls Full

Sometimes I just don't understand white people.

Our hotel stay comes with a free breakfast. You are give a choice: either a Continental Breakfast, which consisted of instant coffee, canned orange juice, and two slices of white bread of dubious origin, along with those lovely rectangular packets of preserves that archaeologists will be digging up for centuries to come, or...... Chinese Vegetarian Buffet, which this morning was fried rice noodle with gai lan and shiitake mushrooms, cubes of taro cake, vegetable spring rolls, faux BBQ pork buns, and fried rice! All you can eat! With only a couple of exceptions, every person of caucasian persuasion opted for the Continental.

After we had eaten our fill, and were just sitting in our chairs digesting like a family of anacondas that had just consumed a small herd of deer, an older English woman sat down at the adjacent table with her Continental plate. I could not help myself. "You should check out the Vegetarian Buffet, it's pretty awesome!". In her best Sybil Fawlty voice, she replied "Oooohhh... Ah did try it once, but it was soooooo spicy!". It should be noted, that there was not a single chili appearing anywhere in the breakfast buffet, although there was a nice sambal and a pot of pickled chili peppers on every table. At this point, I'm starting to think that my whole family has some some weird genetic mutation. Are the English allergic to flavour? I just don't get it. Then an Indian gentleman, obviously visiting on business, appeared. To my absolute horror and amazement, he too ordered the Continental! The pervasive influence of a century of British rule perhaps...

After breakfast, we went back up to the room in an effort to train the boys in the intestinal ways of the sub-continent. This involves eating a healthy breakfast and retreating to one's room until there is a confirmed movement of one's bowels. At least one. We learned the hard way on our last visit that one does not want to get caught out when an extreme urge to find a toilet hits. At home, one can go "Hmmmm... note to self. Find toilet in the next hour or so". In India, your bowels, which were once a staunch ally in the processing of yummy things, have the potential to turn on you and betray you faster than Stephen Harper can don a sweater. A savage 30 foot snake of coiled intestine hisses "Find a toilet...NOWWWW!!!!!!!!!". Nevermind....

Since yesterday, Miles has been wanting a Laksa, so after cruising around LIttle India for an hour or so, we went to the Albert Street Food Center, which is one of those massive buildings filled with hawker stands. The stands all specialize in one or two dishes, and some of them are second and third generation. There could be a few lifetimes of experience in that bowl of soup you order. We ordered three bowls of laksa, and I got clams as an extra in mine. This cost us the princely sum of 6 Singapore dollars, or about 5 Canadian or 4 US. It was simply fabulous. And fabulously simple.

We're thinking of splurging tonight and going by cab to the Seafood Centre, which is right on the beach on the way to the airport. This is a huge complex of open air seafood restaurants, and our goal is the elusive Singapore Chili Crab. Or shall we have Black Pepper Crab? Hmmmmm... perhaps both. These are two amazing Singaporean dishes that feature huge Sri Lankan crabs the size of Volkswagens. The females are the tastiest, as they are packed with roe. It's messy and sloppy, and damn shiok man!

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