Make a joke with Bakkwa


Have you ever heard the term “Bakkwa” (or bagua) ? It’s a very local term in SouthEast Asia, and in particular in Singapore…

Bakkwa is a Hokkien term for barbecued meat. It is usually pork meat, but has been declined into beef, mutton and chicken versions too. It’s basically sliced barbecued meat, which looks a little like beef jerky. Mmmmmmm yummy !!

In Singapore, people snack on it during the day, and even queue up for it during Chinese New Year. You can find some either in established shops (one of the most famous shops is Bee Cheng Hiang) or sometimes in hawker centers.

The last time I went to Singapore I saw Bakkwa on sale at People’s Park Complex hawker center in Chinatown, on the ground floor. If I remember correctly it was labeled Kim Hua Guan, which is another reliable brand for Bakkwa (but there are many other brands too!). It’s actually nicer to buy some in a hawker center because you can watch the cook barbecue the meat for you. Plus, you can be sure it’s super fresh 🙂

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Personnally, I simply love Bakkwa. But what I love most is making jokes with it to my non-Singaporean friends !! Try this one out for fun:

Step 1: Buy packs of Bakkwa from Singapore, pack them individually and fit them in your suitcase. Make sure there is no ingredients description on the package.

Step 2: Give them out between your friends when you come back from Singapore and say it’s a Singaporean delicacy. Serve some on a plate for them to try. Cut it into pieces so that the meat is not recognisable.

Step 3: Tell them it’s DOG MEAT … and watch their reactions !! I can guarantee you, you are in for a good laugh !! 😀 See how many of your friends agree to actually taste it and bring back some home.

Do let me know if you try it out 🙂

Dialects and Teo Chew food


Singapore is a real melting pot… And there are four official languages : English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil. So most important signs are translated in all 4 languages!! Don’t you just love it when announcements in the MRT are translated into all 4 languages? I know I do 🙂

To these four, you might want to add Singlish, even though it’s not a real language…

However, if you do go to a local food court or hawker center, you might be surprised to hear languages which are none of the 5 above… They are dialects!! In the streets of Singapore you might hear people talking Hokkien, Teochew, Cantonese, Hakka, Hainanese…

Most dialects would be Chinese dialects, as most of Singapore’s population is of Chinese origins. Here is a video to give you a glimpse of what the Hainanese dialect sounds like for example …

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But in Singapore dialects are more than just languages. They are a culture of their own. Which explains why some restaurants specialise in Teo Chew cuisine for instance.

In Teo Chew restaurants in Singapore, you will find very “simple” food, in the sense that ingredients are usually served without too much sauce covering it so you can really enjoy all the flavours. Teo Chew food also includes a lot of seafood (steamed fish, oyster omelet, cold crab…) and their Yam dessert is super good too !!

One of the Teo Chew restaurants I would recommend in Singapore is SWA Garden Restaurant on MacPherson Road. It’s small, local and cosy, and not too expensive either 🙂

CNY 2012 in Singapore


Chinese New Year (CNY) is coming up! Although it is officially on Monday 23rd Jan this year, celebrations in Singapore begin before hand. So why not take advantage of this week-end to see as much as you can?

CNY 2012 in Singapore will include :
– streets light up in Chinatown
– lanterns and light shows along Marina Bay Reservoir
– the Sentosa flower event to celebrate the upcoming Spring
– the Chingay Parade on Feb 3rd where there will be dragon shows
– music, theatre and play performances all around time
– and of course many shopping bargains and commercial events…

You can start planning your outings here.

But for those of us who are not familiar with CNY, what is this celebration really about? Chinese New Year – also called the Spring Festival (春节— pronounced chun jie) – celebrates the end of one year (ie the Rabbit year) and the beginning of a new year (ie the Dragon year).

It is a tradition for Chinese people to gather with their families at this time of the year, enjoy good food and spend time together. In mainland China, people are usually allowed a full week of holiday, which is enough time for them to travel back home.

Homes are decorated with red paper cuttings, families thoroughly clean their houses to get rid of bad spirits and welcome good ones for the new year… and also, the elderly usually give out a little money in red envelopes to the younger members of the family. We call them 红包 (pronounced hong bao).

As this is a time of the year for peace, sharing love and gathering with your loved ones, I would like to sincerely wish you a very happy Chinese new year !!

恭喜发财
Gong Xi Fa Cai
Prosperous new year (literally : Wishing you a lot of money) 

新年快乐
Xin Nian Kuai Le
Happy New year !!

If you want to make a joke to your friends, you can tell them : 恭喜发财,红包拿来 !(pronounced : gong xi fa cai – hong bao na lai), which means “Happy New Year! Give me the red envelope!”.

English Translation:

In every avenue and street
From the mouth of everyone
The first sentence when we meet
is congratulations
Congratulations, congratulations, congratulations to you
Congratulations, congratulations, congratulations to you

The winter has come to an end
That’s really good news
The warm breeze of the spring
will wake up the earth
Congratulations, congratulations, congratulations to you
Congratulations, congratulations, congratulations to you

The heavy snow has melted
The plums are about to blossom
The endless dark night is over
We hear the crowing of a rooster
Congratulations, congratulations, congratulations to you
Congratulations, congratulations, congratulations to you

After so much difficulty
with so much discipline
So many hearts are looking forward
To the news of spring
Congratulations, congratulations, congratulations to you
Congratulations, congratulations, congratulations to you

Singapore Idol


Today I would like to share with you the Singaporean version of “American Idol”.

You know, the TV singing competition, where the winner gets to record a new album and be famous? The show was locally adapted in many countries, including in Singapore.

Sylvia Ratonel and Sezairi Sezali, finalists in the 2009 season. Sezairi Sezali won with 61% of votes.

3 seasons were broadcasted on Mediacorp, in 2004, 2006 and 2009. Candidates came from various backgrounds but were all determined to try their luck to break through in the competition. And as usual, the jury was delighted to make crisp comments on each of their performances!!

I must say the show was very popular!! But like in all “Idol” shows, some singers are really good, while others… well… just see for yourself…

I hope you can manage to understand their Singlish accent 🙂 What strikes me most is, as mentioned in the video, problems some candidates have with bad diction. Maybe this is one of the results of being part of a culturally and linguistically mixed-up environment!

And to end on a positive note, this one REALLY makes me laugh a lot !! It was during Singapore Idol‘s first season.