THE MAGICAL MUSHROOM

THE MAGICAL MUSHROOM

I once dined at a really nice restaurant on the outskirts of Singapore’s famous shopping strip, Orchard Road. It was one of those places with an incompletely spelt name, but you knew better than to ask what everybody else could obviously read. It was a sophisticated place. Even dressed in comfortable jeans and my favourite hawaii shirt, the moment we walked in I immediately felt sophisticated.   I think it was one of those uber modern restaurants that presented a deconstructed menu. When dishes were served, instead of different ingredients combining to create new flavours, every nibble-sized piece sat apart from each other, hogging its own spot on those huge, beautiful plates. I admit to not being a fine-dining expert. That evening I made a calculated guess that I was indeed indulging in edible deconstructivism. I can’t clearly recall what I ate and to this day I regret that deeply, because I remember it was a most special and enjoyable evening otherwise.   But thankfully not all is lost. Despite my vague impressions of that evening’s culinary parade, I reserve a singular vivid memory: that of the Mushroom Soup!   I remember reading on the menu “Essence of wild forest mushrooms”, and thinking I’ll order that because I know what mushroom soup is, even if I didn’t understand most of the menu.   A short while later, a waiter placed in front of me a porcelain Chinese soup spoon resting on a small saucer. The spoon cradled a red marble that looked like it had translucent rubber skin instead of glass. I was getting excited. I’d been served the...
A CHICKEN AND EGG STORY

A CHICKEN AND EGG STORY

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the golden eggs laid by a certain goose, the one that Jack nipped from the Giant in the Beanstalk story. Losing his precious goose greatly upset the poor Giant, but I’m guessing if he were still around today he’d be truly devastated. You see, the wholesale price of eggs quoted to us by our suppliers has gone up about 60% from a month ago, and looks set to continue climbing as high as Jack ascending his beanstalk.   Granted, Jack’s were goose eggs while I’m writing about normal, everyday chicken eggs. But the latter are an any-meal-of-the-day staple for many, and in some countries they’re a price-controlled item during celebrative seasons to ensure everyone can afford them despite heightened seasonal demand.   So for a food item that we usually take for granted to now cost so much more than it did just a month back, that should warrant a relook at these spheres of golden-yolked yummyness. Afterall we’re talking about eggs, not gold ingots. The rate at which egg prices have increased has outpaced that of gold. Deeper checking out was needed.   A fundamental economic principle is that of scarcity. Put simply, it’s the constant tug-of-war between supply and demand, the outcome of which is whether the price of an item goes up or down.   Currently, eggs produced domestically satisfy only 20-25% of consumption demand. Malaysia remains Singapore’s main source for eggs, and around four million eggs are sent across the causeway to us everyday. Last year, a few Malaysian egg farms were suspended from exporting to Singapore due...
CELEBRATE EXTRAORDINARY EVERYDAY PEOPLE

CELEBRATE EXTRAORDINARY EVERYDAY PEOPLE

Around the time we were putting our website back together here at Sofresh, Singapore was hosting the 28th edition of the Southeast Asian Games, or the SEA Games for short.   The SEA Games is a biennial, multi-sport event which countries in Southeast Asia participate and compete in. It was originally called the Southeast Asian Peninsula (SEAP) Games, and was the brainchild of Luang Sukhum Nayaoradit, then vice-president of Thailand’s Olympic Committee. The first SEAP Games was held in Bangkok in December 1959. In 1977, the SEAP Federation changed its name to the Southeast Asian Games Federation and accordingly, the SEAP Games became known as the SEA Games – much nicer ring to it, in my opinion.   Singapore’s theme for the SEA Games was “Celebrate the Extraordinary”, and what an extraordinary event the organisers delivered! From the magical opening ceremony, through all the 36 sports and 402 events that over 4,700 athletes competed in, to the memorable farewell and fantastic fireworks show at the closing ceremony.   I think Singapore did pretty well in the arena too, finishing the Games in overall second place with a record haul of 84 Gold medals, 73 Silvers and 102 Bronzes. Six-time table-topper Thailand made it a seventh, while Vietnam came in third.   The standout athlete for me was Singapore’s 20-year-old swimmer Joseph Schooling. He has a disarming, baby-faced grin, shoulders half as broad as the lanes he torpedoed down, and a killer desire to win. Schooling competed in 9 individual and team events, won 9 gold medals, and now has 9 new SEA Games records to his name. Fast forward...