Monday, May 18, 2009
Singaporeans love their food and the rich variety we have is due to the Malay, Indian, Chinese, Eurasian and Peranakan influences we have in our country.
I have not cooked a day in my life while growing up and it is only after marriage that I find it a necessity. If there is one book I would recommend to all newly weds, it would be the late Mrs Leong Yee Soo's cookbook The Best of Singaporean cooking. It was first printed in 1988 and has since gone into many prints.
According to the book, Mrs Leong Yee Soo belonged to the generation of Straits "nonyas" who were part of the Peranakan culture. They created a wonderful blend of both Malay and Chinese culture, from the food to the dressing. Nonyas from the past devoted all their lives to perfecting the art of cooking and sewing and stories of how their mothers-in-laws perceived or accepted them depended greatly on the culinary skills and beadwork.
From hawker favourites to nonya specialities, from Singapore savoury snacks and kuehs to claypot dishes and noodles, her cookbook is one of the most comprehensive Singaporean cookbooks I have come across so far.
Another favourite of mine is from another Peranakan matriach, the late Mdm Lee Chin Koon , the mother of Singapore's most famous political leader - Mr Lee Kuan Yew.
Thanks to these visionary ladies who believe that good receipes should live on beyond their lifetime, modern women like me can still try and learn and create some forms of domestic happiness. Home cooked food has always been conducive to health, goodwill and happy relationships.