Monday, April 30, 2007

Uniquely Singaporean- Food

Hawkers are 'in'. At least, they've been in the news for the last few days.

At the Singapore Day event, which was held in New York last week to connect the overseas Singaporeans, food was an important part of the programme. This despite local artistes like Hossan Leong and Kit Chan entertaining the crowd with our uniquely Singlish. Food always comes first.

But it's not the posh food that Singaporeans crave- it's the simple hawker food that draws us. The chicken rice, the laksa, the carrot cake and the char kway teow.... they unite the Singaporeans- regardless of race, language or religion.

Anyway, according to KF Seetoh, who helped co-ordinated this important event, the first item to sell out was the very, very humble 'chwee kueh'. Not very surprising actually, as even my 'ang mo' husband like it. Actually, he likes the 'chai po' and 'sambal' more than the actual 'chwee kuei'. Hehe! Over at my market here, they cost $1 for 4 pieces...that's about US$0.65.

Just in case you don't know what 'chwee keuh' is, go to this site for a look and a recommendation of the 5 stalls worth sampling.

It has often been lamented that Singapore has no identity to speak of...we are too young and hence there isn't anything to really unite us. Yet, I think many people would agree that food is probably the one identifying factor that connects us all- especially if they are good and cheap.

You only need to look at the number of 'food' tv and radio programmes, the numerous reviews in the various newspapers and magazine to realise just how important this is. And this obsession has resulted in every other stall having won/ featured/ been reviewed in one way or other. These owners proudly ang up the neatly framed newspapers clipping/ awards at their humble stalls. Out of the 3 coffee shops near my place, at least 3 stalls have been in the media.

At this rate, is it any surprising that some of these hawkers are millionaires? In an article in The Sunday Times (29th April), it was reported that some of them earned as much as $100,000 per month. Wow! This attention came about because a few of these hawkers were hauled up by the Inland Revenue dept for not paying enough taxes. I wonder how these officials know these hawkers were under declaring their income. Did they sit by the store and count like the journalists from ST did?

So next time you go to your favourite stall in the kopitiam, don't turn your nose up at the uncle frying the hokkien mee ok. He is probably driving a BMW and has a few Rolex watches stashed away at home.



yeelee said...

haha…you also blog about food
“live to eat” seems to be uniquely singaporean huh?

those whom are self-employed and earning big bucks better not lie about their income. i remember many years ago when PH was with MINFIN, she said the iras actually sent staff to sit near the stalls to count the number of bowls they dish out in a day. another group that was being targetted then were the private tutors

ps: 小姐,大多數水粿的辣椒是用蝦米做的!萬萬不能讓他吃!

tiffany said...

You are kidding...They actually sit down and count? Is this where the tax payers' $ is going to?

yeelee said...

if those 'hawkers' are evading 5 to 6 figures tax, i think it makes sense to deploy someone there for a couple of days jus to count
btw, i was at beach road hawker centre on sat nite, had to queue about half an hour for the belgium waffle…the owner said he'd been working non-stop since 11.30am
i told him he had better report his taxes diligently or else i will see him in the papers for the wrong reason…hehehe!