Rice or Bread
With all the hype about Crazy Rich Asians right now, I decided that I would go catch it in the theatres in Germany. And I made sure that I watched it in the original version, because as you may not know, all films are dubbed in German.
The cinema was half-full, with some Asians peppered in the crowd. I had my Singaporean kakis (the few that lived in Dusseldorf) with me and we were all excited to see what this film had in store for us. And of course, the one scene that got us all excited was the Newton Food Circus hawker centre scene. Everyone was clapping, swooning, and sighing as the cameras panned and tilted from one food item to the next.
Yes, it seems that food is all us Singaporeans can think about and as soon as the myriad of delicious food appeared on the screen, the eyes of my fellow Singaporeans sparkled, and everyone nodded in agreement that it was the one thing they miss. We also had plenty to say:
“Stingray, oh my god, where can we get that?”
“Carrot cake. I want one now.”
“Chilli crab with the man tou. Fuck lah. Stop, I can’t watch this anymore.”
“Best satay in Newton Circus? Please lah.”
“I want to eat 328 Katong Laksa now.”
Living in Germany, food is different here. Where we have rice, they have bread. And we’re talking about a crazy variety of bread. Where we have char kway teow and beef noodles, they have doner and kebabs. It took me a good six months before I could get used to the fact that the harder the bread, the better it is. Or that my midnight supper would now consist of fries and currywurst.
Boy, what would I do for a late night bak chor mee at Bedok Block 85 right now.
Lunches are also mostly green and cold. It made it hard for me to go out with my colleagues for lunches because everyone wanted to eat salad and I was craving for a hot piping bowl of ramen. Plus, I’m a carnivore so the greens tend to scare me.
As time went by, I started packing my lunch and bringing it to the office. And my colleagues took note of what I made every single day. It never occurred to me how Asian I am until one of them pointed out that I was making rice all the time. And similar to my reaction towards the variety of bread they have, they were amazed at the different types of rice I use to make my lunches. And how soft the rice is. Yes, Germans love their rice either super dry (think sand) or super wet (think risotto).
When the film ended, and we walked out of the theatre, we continued talking about food and agreed to do a Singaporean meal together. We’re going to try our best to replicate the famous Singaporean meals such as chicken rice, laksa, bak kut teh and many more. It will not taste the same as what we get back home because it isn’t easy to find all the ingredients here, but we all feel strongly about making this happen finally.
“So we confirm will try to make chicken rice with the soya sauce chicken?” asked one of the Singaporeans in the group.
I smiled at her and nodded. We may not be Crazy Rich Asians, but like all Crazy Asians living abroad, be it high-SES or low-SES, we fucking love our rice. Rice or bread? Rice lah!