Saveur's Prize-Winning Take on Breakfast

I was at a New York dinner party a few years ago when someone noted that he thought Singaporeans were "weird" because of their breakfast choices. "They eat noodles for breakfast," he said. "That's WEIRD."

CIMG3288 I refrained from saying anything about how, when I first came to the U.S., I had thought that big hunks of steak breaded, deep-fried and served with a massive glop of fatty gravy and eggs were a rather odd choice to start one's day myself.

But hey, I'm a polite person who keeps an open mind. (And besides, having tried it, I'll now happily order chicken fried steak and eggs whenever I see it on a brunch menu.)

And so it was that I was thrilled to see Saveur's "A World of Breakfast" October issue on how different countries and cultures kick off the day. With features devoted to breakfasts filled with "the spicy tang of fresh chile sauce in Indonesia, the briny bite of
plump olives in Turkey, the sweetness of just-picked peaches on a
California farm," the issue aimed to show that "the diversity of breakfast foods prepared around the
world is proof of one thing: that the first bite of the day is also the

Having long been partial to curries and noodles for breakfast myself, I suddenly felt vindicated. And I was elated to hear today that Saveur won a National Magazine Award for "Single-topic issue" for its Breakfast edition.

I've so far managed to stop myself from mailing my copy of the issue to the noodles-for-breakfast-hating friend with the note, "How do you like them apples?"

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A Fashion Critic's Bacon-Fat Cookies


High-end fashion and bacon fat.

I couldn’t think of two things more disparate and yet, flipping through the pages of the New York Times a few years ago, there it was: Fashion critic Cathy Horyn‘s paean to a recipe for Swedish ginger cookies made with bacon grease that she has “cherished for years.”

My first reaction: Be still my beating heart, both figuratively and, quite possibly, literally. The cookie seemed like an insane, artery-clogging idea. The first ingredient listed, after all, was “3/4 cup bacon fat, cooled (from 1 1/2 to 2 pounds Oscar Mayer bacon).”

Two pounds of bacon? Cathy was officially my new hero.

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Of "Heaty" and "Cooling" Soups

Soup was my nemesis.

It was inescapable at the dinner table in my Singapore home. And the breakfast table, too, for that matter. And, sometimes, if Mum thought I looked too “heaty” (which, sadly, is hardly the saucy condition that you might imagine) and needed something with yin in it to “cool” me down, there it was at lunch as well.

CIMG3736 A college friend likes to recall the column by Singapore humorist Colin Goh where he notes, “If Harry Potter went to school in Singapore he’d learn in potions
class that there are two kinds of potions: heaty and cooling.”

You may laugh. But it’s true — Singaporeans take these piping-hot brews very seriously. These broths featuring pork or chicken with a mish-mash of vegetables and Chinese herbs are generally concocted with the idea that they can solve some medical problem you have.

Sore throat? Impotence? That gunshot wound in your tush? No problem — just take two bowls of this and call your Mum in the morning.

Given that some of these herbs actually resembled wizened fingers or a tangle of human hair and smelled like my grandmother’s socks, however, I wasn’t too crazy about them.

But it’s funny how you suddenly crave the thing that you loathe as a child once you know it’s no longer there at your elbows, just waiting for you to push it away.

Walking through Chinatown with chef Simpson recently, we stumbled upon a basket of massive, beige root vegetables. My eyes brightened, I practically ran toward the basket, grabbing a particularly lengthy, sturdy one, speechless with excitement as I cradled it.

It had never struck me up until that very moment that this tuber bore an uncanny resemblance to a sex toy.

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