Friday, December 08, 2006
Bounty from the East
I knew it would arrive this way, not giving me time to savour receiving it and opening it immediately – smack bang in the middle of work, when I’m juggling two telephone calls and can’t open the door immediately when the bell rings. But thankfully, the postman didn’t have to ring twice; I got to the door in good time to be faced by a pleasant postman who said, “Foreign parcel, it was too big to leave in your letter box and the watchman said I should hand it over to you personally.” I thanked him at least thrice, closed the door and made a beeline for the camera, all the while looking nervously at my phones, willing them not to ring.
There, then, was my Blogging By Mail package from Kai Rui of Singapore, with many unusual ethnic foods – the most unusual had to be the chilli-tapioca-ikan bilis (a kind of fish) – I’ve never seen anything like that, neither the combination nor the brilliant red of the snack, made all the more bright by the orange of the packaging. Then there was a big packet of sultana biscuits, Kai’s childhood favourite, as she explains in a nice, neatly-written letter (how nice to receive letters on paper, such a rarity these days). There is also a pack of Singapore Hainanese Chicken Rice spice mix – Kai explains that it actually doesn’t originate from the Hainan island in China but is unique to Singapore, where it has a fervent following. In her favourite stall in Maxwell Road Market, she says, you have to wait for more than an hour to get that “plate of heavenly goodness.”
The Mee Siam is another national dish, of Malay origin. Kai describes it as having a “complex and intriguing” taste as it’s sweet and tangy at the same time. I can identify with that, Kai – we make vegetable stews with tamarind and jaggery, and they too are sweet and sour.
And I dread the sugared peanuts – if I begin eating them, I won’t be able to stop, I’m afraid. The ikan bilis and sugared peanuts are common snack foods served to guests when they visit during the Chinese New Year, Kai explains.
I’ve not opened any of these packets yet – the ikan bilis looks too beautiful to cut through! They came this morning, and I will update you when I use them. Thank you, Kai, for the gorgeous food, and thank you, Stephanie, for the pairing up and the organizing. Both of you have certainly dispensed happiness!
Tags: Blogging By Mail