We had our first grocery shopping trip this morning … and came out of it feeling so overwhelmed that our cupboards are still fairly bare. Lots of people shop on Saturday mornings, the aisles are narrow, and we’re clueless about at least half of the products, so the whole process left us a little dazed.
We started out at the Bukit Timah hawker centre for breakfast, where we wandered around wondering what might be vegetarian (we do a lot of that).
People here are willing to stand in super-long lines for food, and we tried joining a line or two, but Singaporeans have us (especially me) beat by a mile for patience. So Pres ended up with a few yummy dumplings, and I ordered fried carrot cake. But names can be deceiving – here’s what I ended up with:
Apparently, fried carrot cake here is made of daikon (radish), egg, and cubes of rice flour. I can’t say it’s the prettiest thing I’ve ever eaten. Pres liked it a lot; for me, the jury’s still out.
We then went downstairs to the wet market, where you can buy fresh fruits, veggies, meat, and fish — essentially a farmers’ market with no farmers.
We saw beautiful things …
… things we were unable to identify …
… and things that are not allowed on the MRT.
Durians, a kind of fruit, are infamous around here. They smell so terrible that you may not take them on any public transportation or hotels, yet people swear that they are delicious. Prescott and I tried durian ice cream, and I would say that it tastes like wet basement floor. But our real estate agent says we must try the real fruit — a good one — so if the opportunity presents itself, I suspect we will.
Mostly Prescott and I walked around the wet market in a daze wondering what in the world to buy when we have not yet developed any cooking habits and we have no staples at home. We’ve become used to eating out for most of our meals, but we’ll need to change that if we want to keep up our health. Food in Singapore is wonderful, but we have not exactly been getting our greens at restaurants and hawker centres (for some reason, veggies are not a big feature on most menus here – it’s all about carbs and meat).
Our shopping spree then took us across (under) the large street to Giant (unrelated, as far as I can tell, to the US chain) to get some non-perishable provisions. People have recommended several different grocery stores to us, but Giant has not been on the list, and now I know why. It’s pretty unappealing as stores go, and they’re definitely not catering to ex-pats, so we felt a bit lost. But we eked out the basics.
We’ve just finished having Indian food for a very late lunch. More prata! Yup, our daily dose of fried bread. Prescott had his with egg, while I had mine with mango, and while neither of those ingredients really offsets the oil content, goodness, it’s delicious. And I’m already growing addicted to Indian tea here, which is wonderfully heavy on the sugar and milk (evaporated? condensed? normal? I’m not sure, but I already know it’s one of the things I’ll miss when we return to the States).
My cousin moved to Bangkok about a year ago with her husband’s Air Force deployment. Finding herself needing to ID and lay in provisions to feed their 5 kids quickly (also in a highrise, boggles,) signed up for cooking classes, which included shopping instruction. She found it really helpful, not just for creating Thai dishes, but for finding similar stuff to more familiar foods from home.So that might be an avenue.