For the A TO Z CHALLENGE, I’m blogging for 26 days in April (except Sundays) based on the alphabet, and my theme is #foodiefiction, inspired mostly by the foods of Singapore.
Once upon a time there was a man and a woman who loved each other. They had been wanting to have a child for some time, and one day, the woman found herself to be with child. The first few months were difficult and the faintest of smells sent her running to the bathroom. The aroma of rice cooking made her nauseated, the smell of garlic being stir-fried gave her headaches, the simmering of chicken broth to nourish her spent body simply made her throw up. For the first trimester, she subsisted on a diet of plain crackers and water.
Then one morning, she woke feeling strangely hungry. Her stomach, long emptied of the crackers and water she had for dinner last night, gurgled. Her husband was startled. It was a sound he hadn’t heard for a while. For a second he wondered if somehow the baby inside her was trying to speak to him.
He hopped out of bed and rushed to the kitchen, and returned with her usual plain crackers and a glass of water.
She shook her head with a little smile and told him, “I feel like eating something else.”
He was overjoyed. He was tickled pink. He was over the moon!
He quickly pushed away the thought of the many many boxes of crackers sitting in the storeroom, beamed at his wife who was still looking wan and frail, and asked, “what is it that you feel like eating? Tell me! I will go and get it for you.”
She sighed and dramatically flung her arm over her forehead.
“The fair maiden would like some laksa please, good kind sir” she beseeched.
“Eh seriously ah. You go from plain crackers to rich spicy laksa? Maybe you should take it easy and have something like, say… wonton mee? Or how about fish porridge? You love porridge for breakfast. Well, at least you used to.”
His wife’s long lashes fluttered open and her glare flung tiny daggers into his heart.
He backed down, the only logical thing to do in a situation like this. A ravenous pregnant woman was not something he could handle at 6 am in the morning.
It would however be a task to hunt down good laksa at this time of day. Laksa, that spicy coconutty curry-like broth with noodles, tofu, prawns, fishcakes, beansprouts and cockles, wasn’t something he fancied for breakfast. It was far too rich and spicy for his morning meal. But he guessed that somewhere in this crazy-about-food island called Singapore, there must be someone lining up for laksa. He just had to use his mastery of the Internet to assist him in this crucial mission.
So he snuck out of the bedroom and called upon the power of Google.
And there it was, somewhere in the province of Tanglin Halt, a stall selling laksa that was already open. He gave thanks to Page and Brin, then flew down the stairs to his chariot, uh, car and sped off to Tanglin Halt.
Not too long after, he was gently pushing open the door to the bedroom, where his beloved still lay at rest.
“I come bearing you the gift of laksa, my love,” he murmured.
Her eyes opened and she bestowed upon him a beatific smile.
“Oh, you are my hero!”
His heart skipped a beat.
He helped her up from the bed and escorted her to the dining table where her rich spicy breakfast sat waiting.
“It smells divine! Thank you so much for bringing me laksa!”
She sat on her throne and raised the soup spoon to her mouth. She took a deep breath, inhaling the aroma of galangal, lemongrass, shallots, turmeric, chillies, belachan, candlenuts, ginger, garlic and other ingredients that had been ground and blended to make the spice paste that makes the base of laksa.
“Oh this is heavenly!” she whispered, perhaps a little too dramatically.
She took a sip of the rich laksa broth.
And another, a bigger slurp.
A third mouthful, lips smacking.
Then she declared, “that was wonderful!”
Her husband looked at her and then back down at the still-full bowl of laksa that he had raced halfway across the island to buy, for her to have three mere mouthfuls of.
Then he sighed, stalked off to the kitchen and returned with crackers and water.
“Maybe some fish porridge tomorrow?” his beloved asked, her mouth full of crackers.
Laksa is sometimes described as a ‘curry’ or a ‘soup’ but it is so rich and thick that it isn’t exactly soup-like, neither is it really a curry as it is very different from what we know as ‘curry’. It is just laksa and it is one of my favourite things to eat. But due to its rich, spicy, coconut-milk broth, it is a once in a while kind of treat. Luckily for this overseas Singaporean, there are plenty of laksa pastes that can be carted over here. There is a variety of laksa available in Southeast Asia, for instance, Penang laksa tends to be more sour and thin, as it uses assam (tamarind paste). What is more well known in Singapore is nonya laksa, and here is a recipe.