Singapore is famous for its food culture, and although there are certainly high-end top-dollar restaurants with 10-course menus that would charm the foodiest ex-pat executive, the heart of that food culture lives in the local hawker centres.
Street food is a common cultural institution throughout the world, but has a special place in Southeast Asia in particular as the dominant working-class cuisine and in Singapore’s case primary meal option. The hawker centres themselves are the result of a typically Singaporean government effort in the 1970’s to improve food safety and keep an ever-increasing army of food hawkers from blocking traffic. The government built and maintains the cavernous markets themselves, and administers licensing and health codes. Despite this standardization, the hawker centre is still a vibrant part of the local culture and a wonderfully chaotic den of unexpected delights to western palates and challenges to preconceptions about “eating out”.
The centres are organized as long lines of narrow, no-frills stalls, each operated by a different vendor, each with their own specialties and styles. Although the cuisines tend to be dominated by the ethnicity of the surrounding neighborhood, it’s still a grab-bag of curries, dumplings, soups, hot pots, noodles, satay, fruit juices, and everything else that’s taken root in this culinary crossroads. Continue Reading
Besides the amazing architecture of Al Andalus (the name of southern Spain during the times of the Islamic rule from ~700 – 1492, the area now known as Andalusia), the area is also known for tapas.
Tapas are generally served in most bars and restaurants. Some only serve tapas, and are known as a tapas bar. With each drink that you order, you get small bites of food that come with the drink. This is tapas. I described it to others as a Spanish dim sum while drinking. It’s a whole culture in Spain. And it’s fantastic.
The type of tapas that come with your drinks can vary widely. From the very basic potato chips with your beer to a small plate of calamari with your sangria.
If you’re interested in advancing your knowledge in food movements, or advancing equity, there’s exciting work afoot from the folks in this space.
A few tidbits, big and small:
The gathering was held in a highly symbolic space at the Intellectual House. It felt extra meaningful in an inclusive way, to welcome members of all tribes and backgrounds. The solidarity here felt strong, and I think other cultural clusterings could really learn from such an example, and benefit from more exchange of ideas. They also began with an acknowledgement that the UW is built on tribal land.
Hyamiciate, Della (Rice) Sylvester of the Cowichan Tribes on Vancouver Island opened the gathering with an elder blessing. It was heartwarming to hear her share her wisdom on her lifelong study of medicinal plants and her life experience. It was also great and fitting contrast with the theme of the event, which was on highlighting native youth.
The keynote speaker was Kalilah Rampanen, a musician, songwriter and activist who is Nuu-chah-nulth, Woodland Cree and Finnish. Per program details, at sixteen years of age, her music “explores Indigenous, environmental, and social horizons that combine acoustic, blues, and alternative styles of expression. I was very sad to have missed this, and while keeping an eye out for follow-up notes from the symposium, have made do with YouTube videos of her songs.
I attended a presentation on Squaxin Island Tribal Food Sovereignty Actions by tribal members and students Aleta Poste and Candace Penn, along with UW student and Melissa Poe. I especially loved hearing from about growing up rich in culture, feeling passionate about passing on stories of gathering nettles, clams and geoduck to students while giving them experience in biology field work.
One common and inspiring theme among this, the community garden project, and sovereignty projects was the importance of sharing the knowledge and use of First Foods, its ability to empower, and the opportunity to spend meaningful time together as a community through activities stewarding these foods.
Did you know: there are only 3 fresh water mussels in the region? If you learn them all, you are an expert! (Candace Penn)
Another interesting tidbit: every tribe that’s federally recognized has its own Natural Resources Department.
There were many other exciting things covered at the symposium, abstracts can be found on the symposium program.
Oh right, this is a food blog. “What did you eat, Yiling?”
There was a first foods tasting table, the main feature photo of this post. Also, I ate bitterroot, which had the texture of enoki mushrooms (or enoki had the texture of bitterroot). The native food they were preparing smelled delicious and it drove me a little wild to have to leave before it was ready to eat.
Trial Experience Rating:
Novelty Rating: in this case, it feels crass to use the word novelty lest I other the experience, so let’s just say I haven’t attended a meeting of the minds like this in quite some time. The familiarity of being among other people with “respect for elders” as a strong value was really sweet to me, while it was also refreshing to see the different flavor of a more playful mentorship attitude from Hyamiciate than I’ve found in East Asian elders. Caveat: tiny sample size, don’t generalize from this.
Likelihood of Repeat: 100% seems the symposium has grown in verve and popularity since its inception in 2015, so I expect it to happen again next year. I’d certainly be happy to go! I only caught wind of it after a prior commitment was set so only got a brief moment to attend. Would happily go back.
On a personal level, I also really enjoyed seeing the range of attendees participating, from Morgan up from Portland who works educating youth in healthy foods, the chair of the Geography department, Dr. Charlotte Cote who has written on revitalizing Indigenous food practices, and especially students leading the shift to promote First Foods and real engagement in their own communities.
I find this especially a propo, since I’ve been getting into different kinds of non-refrigeration experiments, like pickles, adobo, and sourdough starter. It’s a great way to save money, food, and explore parts of our heritage tied to non-electric food preservation.
Have you tried Koji or other new fermentation-related foods?
Contact me or comment below to share your adventures and delight!
Me (via email): We appear to have entered some anomaly in the space time continuum. Kris’ watch says 10pm, mine says 8, and the car says 9. Who knows what time or what age we will return to after our road trip…
This one’s going to have terrible photos, people. Also, it’s random. What? You got a video yesterday..
If you’ve ever had the privilege to take a plane ride, but the simultaneous misfortune of being seated separately –or maybe coincidentally bumped into your friend you haven’t seen in for_ever on a plane– AND you have bluetooth on your smartphone, here’s a solution to messaging each other after they close the doors and you are required to turn to airplane mode: Continue Reading
My friend T.J. will hopefully get a kick out of this post. He’s a big fan of oysters. Everybody say, “Hi T.J.!”
Earlier this Fall, K____ and I went on a short road trip up Chuckanut Drive just north of Seattle to celebrate our anniversary. After an acutely alarming night in Burlington spent in the hotel across from an active shooter incident happening live, we were really feeling the gratitude for being alive, and savoring the world at hand. On top of that, I was also feeling reflective given that it was our anniversary, observed.
I even ate a burger with the pickle intact. This, from some one who used to avoid them at all costs. I thank Korean banchan (side dishes which tend to have pickled vegetables) for that shift. A great day for observing my “try eating things you didn’t like about every 10 years,” guideline.
The last stop coming back south from Bellingham was at Taylor Shellfish Farm. I was not fond of seafood as a kid, and growing up in the Land of 10,000 Lakes and no saltwater, who could blame me for only eating the fresh sunnies and walleye my parents would catch on a day off?* Given my crustacean allergy, the bivalves have gotten a free pass lately with me, with the exception of seared scallops. Them bivalves just didn’t hold very much appeal for me.
So, at the Farm, we drank in the beautiful view of the Puget Sound, and were about to get back in the car for the long drive home,
Are you a klutz like me, always spilling liquids when you pour them from one container to another?
Try this trick I learned from my father, the chemist!
I like to imagine him pouring oodles of liquids from beaker to beaker in his multiple decades of work.
Hint: having a utensil helps.
In summary, if you have an unreliable container you know will spill, knowing this trick can really help. I favor a chopstick for best results, and most recently found this useful when pouring home made chicken stock into ice cube trays to save for later. Revision: since doing this, I now favor a spoon, it guide the liquid to spread a bit better at the bottom.
P.S. Thanks to K_____ for the spontaneous cinematography.
Hey folks, you may recall an earlier springtime post on a Fruit Cycle tour, it was arranged by City Fruit, a nonprofit in Seattle which works to promote and protect urban fruit trees, and share the extra fruit with those in need.
City Fruit’s 6th Annual Cider Taste is on November 10, 2016. In the ramp-up to that, I wrote up a little ditty on Snowdrift Cider Co. for them. Read all about it, and get tickets to the tasting on the City Fruit Blog.
Check it out!
All event proceeds will benefit the 2016 harvest, which brings fresh, local fruit to over 50 meal programs and food banks across the city.