Singapore has great food. There's really no two ways about it. It's tasty, it's cheap. Everywhere you look is serving authentic ethnic cuisine. Such variety and quality at such a price is hard to come by in the rest of the world!
I decided to take a look, then, at the source of consumer raw ingredients - the local supermarket! There are so many interesting sights and smells to be taken in, most of which you won't find anywhere else in the world. Really, the supermarket is as indicative of a country's cuisine as the street stall is!
Here's my photo journey of some of the flavours on offer:
As y'all may or may not know, one of my favourite EVER ingredients to cook with is garlic. Each time I prepare dinner for friends, the first two things that are ESSENTIAL are: take the butter out of the fridge to soften, and peel and crush the garlic! Every good recipe has butter and garlic in it, right?? mmm.. look at all this pre-peeled garlicky goodness. And in a fresh vacuum-sealed pack even! That's pretty much all the work taken out of cooking! And so cheap too - only $3.50 for this entire 2kg bag! Insane in the membrane!!!
They even have the garlic prepared and chopped. I <3. $2.00 for this 1kg bag - you must be joking!!
To go with the garlic (in a shallow frypan with two tablespoons olive oil and one tablespoon butter, of course) are these beautiful shallots. Again, already cut and peeled! Why is everything so much easier here?!
But wait, there's more! (Or so they say..) These huge tubers are swedes of some sort.Just had to take a picture - some of them are as big as my head! (See hand for comparison. Terms and conditions apply. See in store for details.)
HUGE sweet potatoes (kumara for all you Kiwis). How many families could you feed off one of these?! Yeesh!
Roast duck in a bag at $22.80 a piece? I really hate to sound like an infomercial, but this is as close to heaven as you'll get. Really.
Rows of fresh vegetables. There must be about 20 types of Asian greens alone here, most with names that I can't pronounce.
Unidentified pickles / fresh chili paste.
Loads of fresh pineapples and bananas. Singapore being located primely in the tropics means not only damn hot and humid weather all year round (yay) but super fresh and sweet tropical fruits! I love how the bananas are just, y'know, hangin' around.
Oranges, pears, mangoes and more!
Sugarcane. Now this is something you definitely won't find in a Western supermarket. Sugarcane can be eaten straight up (peel and chew on the fibres) or juiced through a big pressurized rolling machine.
You won't find starfruit (sometimes called jackfruit) or dragonfruit much outside of Asia either. Starfruit has a deliciously tart taste and is very refreshing when served from the fridge. Dragonfruit, for its enticing and colourful skin, has a soft and mild-flavoured white flesh, studded with tiny black seeds.
Belacan (shrimp paste), Ikan Bilis (fried anchovies) and Nasi Goreng (fried rice) mixture available for all the budding hawker stall owners out there. And at $0.25 a pop, why wouldn't you?
Another typical sight in any country with Chinese - dried stuff. Yeah, stuff. Only the lord knows what's in these packets. I'm sure they specify something innocuous like "beans" or "barley" but really.. might as well be moon rocks. This dried stuff is sold stand-alone or in pre-mixed packages for boiling into delicious healthy soups.
Oh Haagen Dazs. Why must you tempt me so? 2 pints for $23.85 is hardly a bargain, but I can't get this in Auckland no matter how hard I try! Maybe I should try smuggle some in through customs..
Does this remind you of a certain movie? It doesn't for me. Asian semi-celebs are often found championing certain brands or products. It's the Asian way. I don't know who Jeanette Aw is, or what she does, but if she says its Deliciously Convenient, I'm gonna buy it!
Mmmm.. popcorn chicken.. 'nuff said.
A big shelf of wannabe dairy products. Mostly UHT or even double-pasteurised. Some are probably even reconstituted! I really can't trust milk if its not New Zealand milk! I miss my Anchor!
I miss lots of things about New Zealand food, for all I love the food here. I miss my daily glass of milk. Double-buttered (or even triple-buttered) toast in the morning (credits: J Cho). I miss a good cafe latte, barbecuing sausages and lamb, pasta bakes on lazy summer nights, and icecream and fish and chips on every street corner. I'll be back soon. Don't miss me!