Paul Simon had a dream: he wanted to cook for his President someday. He also dreamed of opening his own restaurant where he would cook dishes from his mother’s recipes; but that would come later.
A graduate of ASPN (Association for Persons with Special Needs) Delta Senior School, he was employed in a leading hotel as a cook, where his mild intellectual disability was not an issue to him, his supervisors or the hotel guests.
In December 2017, Mr Simon was interviewed for an article celebrating the International Day of Disabled Persons. In it, he mentioned his two dreams.
On 24 January 2018, Mr Simon fulfilled one of these dreams. The President had read the article and had her staff contact him, extending an invitation to cook for her. So, on that day, that’s what he did. He cooked and served a three-course lunch for President Halimah at the Istana (the official residence and office of the President). And joined her for a chat as she had her dessert.
Thank you, Madam President, for that invitation and for making a dream come true.
Egg. Perfectly formed, self-contained, nutritious, a cradle of life … is there anything more perfect than this?
‘Egg’ – the noun – has survived centuries of use but remains relatively unchanged from the Middle English ‘egg’ and its ancestor, the Old Norse ‘egg’. A simple word, it has contributed to a range of expressions over time: good egg, rotten egg (reportedly 1848), egg on your face (reportedly 1936), nest egg. It is part of relevant advice today: don’t put all your eggs in one basket (Cervantes in Don Quixote, 1605) and it is also an insult: go suck an egg (1930s).
‘Egg’ – the verb – represents encouragement, e.g., egg someone on. The thing is, the Old Norse etymology of ‘egg’ is the same as ‘edge’. So to egg someone on, back in the day, was to edge someone on, i.e., to provoke or drive to the edge. Technically, therefore, you could egg an egg to the egg. But I digress.
‘Egg’ – the food – is even more, well, egg-citing. Its cooking methods are diverse: hard-boiled, coddled, poached, fried, scrambled. It is integral in souffles, custards, soups and drinks. And let’s not forget caviar.
‘Egg’ is a poster child of cultural diversity: Huevos Rancheros, tamagoyaki, century egg, omelette, frittata. If you’re interested, see here for international breakfast egg recipes! By the way, while a London firm claims to have invented the Scotch Egg in the 1700s, it was apparently already being served during the Mughal Empire, founded in 1526!
‘Egg’ has synonyms. Kind of. I’m thinking of ovum, roe, spawn.
‘Egg’ becomes a tool for vandalism when it is thrown at someone’s house, i.e., egging. I know of a much-hated teacher whose students once cracked raw eggs on his car; it was parked in the sun.
‘Egg’ is part of folklore and tradition. It is said to cure illnesses, hangovers and foretell the future. It symbolises new life, birth and resurrection. The Chinese, for instance, distribute hard-boiled eggs dyed red to friends and family to celebrate a baby’s first month or first year.
‘Egg’ is a decorative item – who can ignore the beauty of an ostrich egg lamp? Or a Faberge egg?
‘Egg’ has cult followings – an egg yolk called Gudetama has spawned restaurants, merchandise and a near rock star status. And who has never heard of Humpty Dumpty?
I’d love to hear how the egg features in your culture. Please do share by leaving a comment!
For as long as we’ve lived in the neighbourhood, we’ve had Sunday brunch at the coffee shop whenever we could. It wasn’t a large shop; just seven stalls offering drinks, vegetarian noodles, congee, prawn noodles, wanton noodles, Indian food and economical rice.
We were generally happy to eat from each stall in rotation. It got to the point even the stall owners knew whose turn it was to serve us. However, the Munchkin had an affinity for the wanton noodles and often ate it for weeks in a row.
This stall was run by a couple. Uncle prepared the noodles: dry, braised, with or without chilli, cooked soft or al dente just the way the customers ordered. Auntie did the plating and garnishing, often also delivering the bowls right to the tables.
But Auntie did much more for us. Over the years, she cut the Munchkin’s noodles into short little strips so it was easy for a child to scoop with a spoon. She made Uncle boil the noodles longer so they would be softer. She added extra sauce. She smuggled out extra wantons. Later, it was vegetables. When there was a moment to spare, she would sit with us for a chat.
The Munchkin had wanton noodles the day before leaving for college. Auntie cried and offered all sorts of advice about living alone. Even Uncle, whose voice we’ve pretty much never heard, said, “Study hard!” from behind his giant soup pot.
If it takes a village to raise a child, then I’m beyond thankful Auntie (and Uncle) and my family live in the same one. Thank you, Auntie.
I’ve always thought of tissues
As cellular matter:
An ensemble of cells
To make us stronger or fatter.
As little square sheets
For wiping food splatters,
Or stifling our sneezes
In the midst of our chatter.
Then came the revelation,
The dismayed observation
That tissues could be …
Tools of reservation!
Hungry people prowled,
With trays laden with food.
Tables around them sat vacant
Yet some ate where they stood.
The reason, you see,
Is this phenomenon called ‘chope’.
In hawker centres and food courts,
Want a seat? See the tissues? Abandon hope.
Because every packet of tissues
Marks a reserved lot;
Each owner will be back
With his food, to his spot.
But must we obey tissues?!
Can’t we toss them aside?
Who started this ‘chope’ thing anyhow?
Why must we all abide?
These packets of tissues
Should not be more powerful than laws.
Tissues are for blowing noses
And wiping sweat off our jaws.
Yet we’ve allowed this -
This bizarre situation
Where a tiny inanimate oblong
Is a tool of reservation.
You must be logged in to post a comment.