Sunday, May 24, 2009

Weird Stuff (Street Food)



In Bahasi Malay and Indonesian, warung means stall.  I am a sucker for a food stall, as we all know. Like my hero Calvin Trillin, I've got the gene that makes me love buying street food and eating while standing up.  In just 10 hours in Kuala Lumpur, I ate like a king.  Malaysia beckons me back....I had goreng pisang (battered and fried banana, right), and some thin crispy crepe with peanuts (see below).

 In Indonesia, I showed some uncharacteristic caution and resisted all food carts except the grilled corn being sold at the top of the mountain where we went to look at Mount Merapi (oh man what was that place called again...?).

In Singapore, the street food is housed inside, in hawker centres, where things are clean and tidy, and handily grouped all together. Calvin Trillin wrote famously about them in the New Yorker, and there's a guide to them you can pick up while in Singapore.  I trusted Claire and Huzir as my guides, and didn't go wrong. 

Highlights: 

Carrot Cake.  Which is not at all what it sounds like.  Glutinous chunks of what Claire reported to be "grated root vegetable," sauteed in garlicky soy sauce.  I couldn't stop eating it despite my overly full belly. 
Teo Chew (braised duck with rice noodles): Man alive. So flavorful.
Rojak: We had a version of this peanut-sauced fruit salad while in Jogja, but this one was stranger and more delicious.  I will list the ingredients but you'll think I am joking.  Sliced guava, cucumber chunks, mango(?), and a few other fruits and vegetables, with chunks of giant fried churro.  Doused in an incredible peanut sauce. Oddly, inexplicably divine.
Chwee Kueh (steamed rice cakes with minced something or other on top): There is no end to how many ways I can enjoy rice products, apparently.
Apologies to Huzir for not calling the Char Kway Teow a highlight.

1 comment:

Amy said...

Whenever we're driving and pass a particularly shack-ass cart (or shack) by the side of the road I remind Victor - "If Jerusha were here, we'd be eating right now." This is both a lament and a warning. The weirdest thing we ate in Greece was on the flight home - breakfast was a ham and cheese sandwich served on a cheese danish. Not beans in your dessert weird, but weird just the same.

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