Memories of Our Food Heritage…

Published October 1, 2012 by piggie

Someone ever asked me, what’s so great about Singapore’s National Museum when I had actually visited the likes of Musée du Louvre & Cappella Sistina among the many distinguish museums in the world, that I couldn’t help re-visiting the former once in a blue moon?

Well, simply put, our very own National Museum may not be within the top few museums in the world, but it offers an unparalleled reconnection on the many wonderful memories we grown up with.

Among the many excellent permanent exhibition halls in the museum, I shall spend no hassle in expressing my liking on Singapore Living Galleries – Food, the only one that correlates to my childhood and hence bringing back strong sense of identification whenever I was there, while the other categories probably strike better chord with our forefathers.

The convenience of aluminium cans, pet bottles and tetra pak have somehow eliminated the cumbersome glass bottles we used to see before the early 80s. Back in the olden days, all my parents needed to do to keep us away from the soft drinks stored at home, was just to hide the bottle opener. Now, I suppose parents would better leave the drinks at supermarkets! 😀 I remember in my desperation to try an F&N Orange, I even resort to using my tooth, which got me a very unwilling appointment with the dentist in the end, and I still didn’t manage a single sip on the drink! Those days, F&N was such a prestigious brand, but the recent development had me concerned that F&N may take the road of Sinalco & Green Spot…

Coke bottles (L-R): USA, Atlanta (USA), UK, Thailand

In fact, I got so involved in nostalgia that I even brought back bottled drinks from oversea in the mid 90s, and had given some to a few of my closest acquaintance. But no thanks to a bearded devil who wrecked havoc on some civilian buildings, I could no longer acquire these oversea. It’s so bad that during a recent trip to Philippines, I was even questioned on a bottle of honey I stuffed inside my check-in luggage (=.=)”

Anyway, I recently discovered a local spot where I can find these retro bottled drinks, at the Singapore Food Trail @ Singapore Flyer (^.^)

While taking these pictures in the museum, some naughty children were running on the display. I had to gently tell them off in front of their ignorant parents… (=.=)” Please, inconsiderate jerks, your children are your responsibility, this is not a playground even though your kids may be monkeys! Do give others a chance to relish those golden memories by not causing any damage to the display

More displays which reminded me of my childhood days… I had the privilege to have patronise some of the mobile hawkers resembling these. I remember jumping with joy whenever the mobile Mee Rebus hawker came about, yelling out loud on their presence, and couldn’t help urging mommy to buy. Back then, plastic carrier were not so popular, paper carrier and banana leaves were used extensively, and sometime, we brought along our own container for cooked food.

My dated collection ~ ^.^ ~

These days, in view of climate effect, many of us (sadly to say, yours truly inclusive) are still reluctant to ditch the polystyrene carrier. I tried to re-use my trusted tin container in purchasing food some months back, but I witnessed how clumsy the hawkers handled it, and burnt their fingers in the process (OMG!!), I felt rather bad and didn’t use it again (BTW, the cup in the picture is there for a reason, allow me to elaborate shortly). But really, it’s sad to see our government’s environmental effort merely resorting to vocal and not much physical action. There are so much more they can do, such as replicating Japanese’ habit of using and re-using a bento box, encouraging people to acquire reusable utensils, and conduct programs to re-educate its usage etc. But for cost and convenience reason (and whatever reason I cannot foresee), we trade-in a healthier earth at the expense of our children’s, that spells how short-sighted our vision are…

Oh yeah, now the cups…

Until Ya Kun’s resurgence less than a decade ago, it was rather difficult to find these nostalgic cups in Singapore, that everytime I went to Malaysia, I really appreciate a sip of their coffee, just to relish the moment holding on one of these porcelain cup to cherish long-lost memories. Believe it or not, I do find coffee tasting better in porcelain cup than in a paper or polystyrene cup, but I can’t express that kind of feeling. Nevertheless, those newer porcelain cup still cannot reflect that classical feeling one can find in these advertised cups where many vendors are now no longer in existence. I can imagine that heavy emotion on lifting one of these collectibles, and couldn’t help digging out the one in my possession back home.

When I came across these moulds at the museum, a stream of reminiscence swept over me! Yes, these are oh-so-familiar! My grandmother was a hawker who handmade some of these pastries for sales. She didn’t earn much from these, but I really enjoyed helping her for the cost of a few candies! (^.^) Then again, there weren’t iPad, computer, nor video games to keep me occupied then, making these pastries was really more of a past time. But of course, one could really taste the difference made by an amateur like me (LOL)! Needless to say, those with faded print and obvious seam were often the leftovers!

These days, it’s really hard to find these pastries, and many were actually factory-made, some probably even shipped from Johore. But anytime I lay my hand on these, I feel like I can still smell the sincerity I put in making them many decades ago, and I couldn’t help remembering my grandmother and her warm smile whenever I made some sub-standard one, which was often the cases. Mum still keep some of these moulds, though we would rather buy than spending time to make a few for the offerings during major festive.

Some of our mould collections

There are more display worth mentioning in the museum, but I’m afraid none sparked more interest in me than those I already illustrated above. Like I mentioned, the items in National Museums are broadly targeting at different interest group, some may find the Film and Wayang gallery more captivating, and some may be more fascinated by the traditional costume in the Fashion gallery. Take a look, and you maybe surprise to find some items touching your fondest memories.

Having visited the Food gallery, I am pleased that government are now taking action to build new hawker centers. For the past 2 decades, they had conveniently passed the hurdle to private enterpreneurs whose major interest was profit. We witnessed one food court after another breaking Singapore’s rental record, and passing on the charges to consumers. We see exaggerating prices eliminating the existence of some delicacy snacks such as Kueh Tutu, Kacang Puteh & many more. And it will be such a waste if our future generation can no longer reconnect the heritage we are experiencing now, or yesteryear. I hope the re-establishment of new hawker centers can bring back many of these nostalgic food given the likely cheaper rental.

In addition, I wish to take this opportunity in reiterating the ideology of Re-use, Reduce, and Recycle. We can re-use a food container just like the olden days, reduce the usage on plastic and polystyrene packaging, and recycle papers, plastic, and metal sensibly. We had done many of these before, there’s no reason why we can’t go back to a former practice. It may be more troublesome for us, but remember, we are returning our children a greener earth we used to see!

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