My “selectivity” began as a child. (Or, at least, when I was younger—because when does the division between child and adult become apparent? When we go to school? When we graduate from school? When we get married? So perhaps I am still a child. Either way, I am about ten-to-fifteen years older than the age I am talking about.) I distinctly remember the dread that would appear on my grandmother’s face every summer when I would stay with her and my grandfather for one week by myself. This dread specifically when it came time to prepare a meal. She would ask me what I wanted, and I would tell her. Then, however, after she made it and set it out on the table, I would take one look at it (or, if she was lucky, one bite) and insist that this was not what I wanted. She didn’t make buttered noodles like mom did. I only liked Kraft macaroni and cheese (the boxed kind, not her homemade kind). The pork chops tasted weird. Even the orange juice she had was wrong: it had pulp.
Now, although I am not nearly so particular—I eat things prepared in a variety of ways other than how my mother cooks them, for instance, and I will choke down pulpy orange juice if I must—I am still branded as being the Picky Eater of the family. I am the only one who, for example, will not eat any sandwich with mayonnaise on it. I also do not care for 99% of cheese, eggs, or red meat products.
However, since I have been to Singapore, I have tried such a variety of foods that are obscure to us Americans—and have enjoyed them!—that I refuse to bear that title any longer! I believe that had I been raised in an Asian country, I would have thrived and perhaps grown quite corpulent eating all of the delicious foods here. They don’t load up their dishes with cheese here, nor do they tend to feature as much red meat on their entrée menus. Instead, it’s all fish, fish, fish! And noodles, and rice. And vegetables!
To illustrate, let me give a list—accompanied by a few photos, of course—of a number of foods I have tried and enjoyed during my stay here. I must credit Angela for making sure I tried each and every one of them, for without her direction and insistence, I would probably have not known where to begin in my culinary excursions, nor would I ever have been so adventurous.
August 6: kaya (sweet pan dan leaf paste) on toast; kai lan (leafy stir-fried vegetable); Hokkien mee (prawn noodle with lime and chili); sugar cane juice; ice kacang (like a sno cone mountain topped with red beans, grass jelly, corn, coconut milk)
August 7: cai xin (green leafy vegetable, served with chicken chop claypot); longan (fruit with tough shell and opaque white grape-like inside); rice burger una gi (eel served between two rice patties/“buns”)
August 9: char kway teow (cockles—a shellfish tasting a bit like oysters—with flat kway teow noodles and skinny mee noodles in a soy sauce with scallions); chendol (similar to ice kacang); *durian* (second thing I did not like—it’s a custardy fruit that you have to crack open)
August 11: laksa (spicy soup with thin noodles and veggies/seafood); tomato prata (similar to naan); milo dinosaur (chocolate milk with powdered mix on top—very delicious and can/should be easily brought back to the states); rambutan (again with opaque white grape-like inside, but very deceiving hairy pink-and-green neon rind)
August 12: fish ball soup; kang kong (hollow stemmed green vegetable in spicey sambal sauce); ice cream sandwich (this is a square of ice cream in your choice of flavors served on a piece of white bread dyed green and pink; very unusual!)
August 13: mangosteen (dark plum colored fruit with white tiny sectioned juicy insides); baluku (meaning “head lump”; similar to longan but with more seeds that taste bitter); coffee bun; red bean ice cream
August 14: watermelon juice; chicken floss bun
August 16: soba (cold gray noodles served with iced soya sauce and wasabi paste)
August 17: *pig intestine; pig stomach* (items 3 and 4 that I did not like); seaweed; sesame paste (a hot black dessert soup)
Thus, in conclusion, I would like to cast off my title of Picky Eater in lieu of a more apt description: Adventerous Eater!