Dining on fish eyes and more in Singapore
The heat is unlike anything I’ve experienced. It’s so hot here that it invades your insides and attacks all organs. My stomach is sour from it so that I can taste heat in my mouth. Picking up my hand is like moving through water. It’s a heat index of 110 degrees, which by lunchtime makes me and everyone I work with feel completely broken. When we stop shooting and drive to the next location, I pass out in a deep slumber and pray we hit traffic that will delay our 15-minute drive to 30 minutes. When we’re finished shooting for the day, I don’t head out to experience some of the most inventive Asian food, but instead head back to my hotel room where I drink a beer for dinner and go to bed.
One of my non-beer meals was Chicken Rice, which is considered to be Singapore’s national dish. When the heat drives me inside to the safety of an air-conditioned mall, I realize how starved I am so I head to the food court. Food courts in an Asian mall are completely different than ours, meaning less artery-clogging fried fat and more fresh food made from scratch. I saw that one stall specialized in the famous Chicken Rice, but I hesitated. Do I really want to have this iconic dish from a food court stand right next to a Hello Kitty shop? Again, I was hungry and it seemed like the comfort food that would be good for my stomach and soul so I went ahead and ordered it. My goodness! It was amazing. The chicken was tender, succulent and almost melting in my mouth, the rice pillow-soft and whatever sauce that was served with it, some sort of syrupy soy fish sauce, brought the whole plate to life. Every bite I appreciated, every taste remembered. It was that good. But there was still this matter of having eaten it in a food court which I would imagine wouldn’t sit well with the foodies, which Singapore is full of. So when I was with Seetoh, one of the predominant Singaporean food critics, and he asked me where exactly did I eat my Chicken Rice — famous place A or famous place B. I said, “Um, yeah the second one.” So only you know.
It’s pretty amazing staying at Raffles, one of the most well-respected and beloved hotels in the world. I feel like a big shot, like I’ve made it. My room is overlooking the lobby so at night I go to bed to the sounds of the grand piano belting out tunes from the American songbook. My husband, Kevin, is joining me, as he had work in Asia as well, and is capping off his trip with me. We sit in our living room (yes, I have one) and eat chocolates and marvel at our lives. “Did you ever think you would stay in a suite in Raffles?” I ask. “Nope, not in a million years.” he says.
I will point out that the Singapore Sling is just disgusting. I really didn’t have high hopes, but I have to admit I couldn’t come to Singapore and not have THE drink. Even if it was 15 bucks. It’s sweeter than a Shirley Temple, like drinking liquid candy. I don’t remember if it made the show or not, but it was created at Raffles as an acceptable drink for ladies who were now coming to what used to be an all-male bar. What women had to endure! No vote, little opportunity, and crappy cocktails.
I would like to point out to all the people who won’t believe me or interpret the scene in the show negatively that I actually in all honesty LIKED the fish eye. I was totally thrown off by it being offered to me and knew that this being something given to the guest of honor, meaning that I could not turn it down without severely disappointing my hosts, and I would never do that. I was completely grossed-out by the size, which was about as big as a jawbreaker, but when I put it in my mouth the experience completely changed. It went from a solid to something more gelatinous and soft like silken custard until it just finally dissolved. To feel it transform was what I thought the joy and honor of the experience was all about. And I truly enjoyed it. I am, however, glad they didn’t offer me the second eye.