Friday, 13 July 2018

Hawker culture reducing people's ability to cook

UPDATE: I'm amused by the interest generated on the Straits Times FB. In answer to questions raised: I do try to grow my own food. Not always successful, but I experiment, any way. My son is trying to cook as much as possible for the family before he starts university in September (see below). I am officially unemployed but I do run a hobby business from home and do a lot of unpaid work for the local community.

What's come out of this discussion is that couples and families are too caught up in jobs. Why? To fund their property. If HDB flats are zero-valued after 99 years, and we live much longer these days, is it worth working so hard, missing precious family times, not eating properly and thus storing up health issues, so that we could … what? I have a vision of guinea pigs in their spinning wheels. Why do we bother?

That said, we have not been on a family holiday for several years.

Maybe we need another model for family life. Perhaps a few mothers or families gather together to provide 'co-operative' childcare, and parents can rotate working so that their skills do not get too outdated. Thinking outside the box ...

===

A funny thing happened on the way to the ST Forum page.

My original letter:

Hawker food is not the root of the problem

When I get home to Singapore I binge on hawker food.

It fills me with sadness to learn that hawker food is being ‘nutritionally sanitized’.

On the rare occasion that I eat cheese I want full-fat cheese, not ‘skinny’ or ‘reduced fat’ cheese which tastes awful and is chewy.

The operative word is ‘rare’.

Hawker food was not designed for everyday consumption. It was a treat for me to have a bowl of wanton noodles, for example.

The growing trend however is for individuals and whole families to eat out most days of the week, and then stuff themselves with even more store-bought confectionaries on others.

The effects of this trend?

(1) Kitchens are shrinking. When trying to buy a property in Singapore I found flats with only galley kitchens, with two gas rings.

“How does one cook a proper meal for a family with only two gas rings?” The agent’s “most Singaporean eat out” did not help.

(2) The ‘variety’ of eating outlets is wider because people are tired of eating the same hawker foods.

My issue with such newer foods is they are not ‘authentic’, but made-up and expensive, capitalizing on the punter’s desire for something different.

Economically, no real money is being generated. It is just shifting money from one pocket (yours) to another (owners of these eateries) who then cry out for more cheap, foreign workers, with which the electorate is unhappy.

(3) Young people have lost the ability to cook. People ‘ooh and aah’ at the fact that I cook rice on the hob. No rice cooker. Because I’ve learned from the best: my mum.

It is not difficult to cook a balanced nutritious meal from scratch. When parents do not cook and/or leave this to a maid, reducing cooking to ‘service’ work unsuitable for young sirs and madams, children stop learning.

What better opportunities for ‘enrichment’ then using a cooking experience to discuss maths (fractions, division, multiplication) and science (states of water, physical and chemical change, esters and aldehydes) with our children?

[For me, this is the most important line.] So please do not ‘skinny’ my lardy char kway teow. I want fat on my Hainanese chicken and oodles of coconut milk on the nasi lemak.

Thanking you in advance.

===

became:

It fills me with sadness to read recent discussions on making hawker food "nutritionally sanitised" (ST looks at healthy hawker eats in first part of series on diabetes; June 19).
Hawker food was not designed for everyday consumption. It was a treat for me to have a bowl of wonton noodles, for example.
The growing trend, however, is for individuals and whole families to eat out most days of the week, and then stuff themselves with even more store-bought confectioneries on others.
One effect of this trend is that kitchens are shrinking.
When trying to buy a property in Singapore, I found flats with only galley kitchens, with two gas rings.
There is also a wider variety of eateries because people are tired of eating the same hawker foods.
My issue with such newer foods is they are not authentic, but are made-up and expensive instead, capitalising on the punter's desire for something different.
Young people have also lost the ability to cook. It is not difficult to cook a balanced, nutritious meal from scratch.
When parents do not cook or leave this to a maid, reducing cooking to "service work", children stop learning.
What better opportunity for enrichment than using a cooking experience to discuss maths, like fractions, division and multiplication, and science, such as states of water, physical and chemical change, with our children?

Son's first attempt at stuffed peppers (with some help from Mum)




No comments: