“Both my paternal grandparents were locally born but we hearsay our ancestry line moved from Indonesia to Terrenganu to Singapore.
My dad married my mom, who is a true blue teochew! So, I am only a half-bred nonya.”
What is your earliest memory of your heritage?
“I think the most memorable moments learning about my heritage was visiting my paternal relatives during the Chinese New Year. It helped that I was always rooted at my seat and trying to figure out the language, so unlike the younger generation today. It is likely that I picked up my knowledge of basic Malay and a fair bit of ‘peranakan language’ from them. (Peranakans converse in a mixture of English, Malay and Hokkien).
My parents were already rather modernized when they wedded in the 60s. There was, unfortunately, no specific tradition that has been carried forward except for the food. My mum leant peranakan-style cooking from my paternal grandma who taught her the recipes.”
“My grandma was the only nonya whom I knew who faithfully wore her Kebayas at home, as she lived with us till she passed on when I turned 16 years old. It was a pity that we were not very close and there wasn’t any keepsake from her that was handed down, as it was only distributed amongst her daughters.
However, my 2nd brother elder brother, Alvin, who is very much into preserving the peranakan heritage, helped formed and helms ‘The Main Wayang Company’. Which actively promotes the unique Peranakan culture locally and overseas. Do check out some of the music that he has composed and produced.”
“…I do have a few memorabilia presented to me by my brother; a Kam Cheng and some porcelain spoon ornaments which I proudly display in my home. These are things that remind me of my heritage. ”
Of all the things you have learnt from your parents (in terms of tradition and culture), what do you feel was the most valuable?
“I think I like the way I have been shown what is true love and stay humble in life. My mom came from a very well-to-do family before she met my dad, who was working in a factory prior to becoming a teacher. In those days, money was very hard to come by. She chose love and trust (my dad) versus an arranged marriage to a rich businessman’s son. She stood by my dad in good times and in bad. She never once wavered even though she could have had a luxurious life, I honor and respect her for that. ”
So, who is this Singapore Mom Blogger?
It’s Adeline, from The Accidental Mom Blogger. A mom of 2, a jewelry crafter of unique and intricate creations and an extremely competent home-cook.
With Adeline’s winsome girlish charms and lovely dimpled smile, it was not so hard for this inexperienced-amateur-photographer-yours-truly to capture these portrait shots of her.
She may come across as quiet and reserved at first impression. But as I got to know her better this past one year, I have discovered that Adeline has a playful side, yet she can be the dependable big sister of SMB, who has earned herself the nick AOAC – ‘Adeline Oon Ah Che’.
Adeline also has a matriarchal side to her, (matriarchal doesn’t mean wanting to crush people like cockroaches), that is demonstrated by how efficient and capable she is in running her household and single-handedly tending to the needs of her two children.
She turned on a gentle fire for the wok, the stew simmered for a few minutes. Then, she gracefully stirred the contents in the wok, ladled into a bowl and artfully scattered garnish on top of the dish. She was a thoughtful host, who warmly welcomed me into her home and served me a gratifying home-cooked lunch that afternoon.
Who is she? She was my first obliging ‘model’ for a new series that I am developing for this blog. A series of portraits that will take a peek into the roots of some Singapore moms, moms who will share their stories of culture and heritage in their lives.
She isn’t just any Singapore Mom. She is a mom who is a part of this community that I have grown to love and appreciate; she is a Singapore Mom Blogger.
Can you guess who she is? A clue, she has Peranakan roots. Do look out for first post next week on Portraits of a Singapore Mom Blogger, and you will get to see who she is!
I have been obsessed with sun-flares since this first sun flare that I managed to capture with my iPhone (photo above). Too often in the mornings, I will be pointing my phone’s camera lens towards the sun trying to position my phone for that perfect shot of the flare, and have since gotten used to weird stares from passer-bys.
Once you are able to capture your first sun flare with your phone, it does get rather addictive. Either that, this is just one of my monologues, to confirm that I am like the only phone camera geek here.
If you are keen to try capturing your own lensflare / sunflare through your phone’s camera, here are some practical tips I have learnt capturing sun-flares from my phone :
1) It has to be a clear day when the sky is blue. The sun will be contrasted against a blue sky.
2) One of the best way to create the sun-burst effect is to have something in front of the sun to block part of the sun rays. It can be trees, buildings, clouds. Or you could easily pick up a leaf to block the sun, only allow some of the sun’s rays to emerge over the edges of the leaf to create lines of light.
3) No mid day sun please! I have found that the afternoon sunlight is too harsh and all you will see in your photo is one big blob of light over the sun. The sun is best before 9.00am or later in the day.
Photo on left taken at close to 6.00 p.m., while the photo on the left was taken at about 8.45 a.m.
4) Hold your phone camera towards the sun, and there will be some eye-squinting involved in this exercise but it helps not to stare directly at the sun. Tilt your phone at various angles so as to achieve that light refraction from the lens. Go on and click even if you can’t see anything, change to different angles and capture the photos. Trial and error can be really helpful here.
5) Once you have captured the sun flare, be careful not to have your photo too bright (i.e. over-exposed). One easy way I have tried, is to darken the exposure and increase the contrast of the colours. My favorite post processing apps available from the App store are Filterstorm and Snapseed.
One final tip.
Experiment, experiment, experiment! Don’t give up even though your first few attempts are not successful. I think sun flare has that bit of time and chance involved, and part of the fun of capturing sun flares, is that you never know what photo you are going to get at that moment when you snap the photo.
Who cares even when your photo is not sharp or not perfect, what matters is that you are having fun and capturing these beautiful moments with your phone camera, that you might otherwise forget.
So if you do get into one of those geek-wielding-phone-camera moods, do use these hashtags #happyflare #lensflare #sunflare #sporemombloggers when sharing your happy flare photos on Instagram. Will be looking forward to see your captures!
A Singapore hawker favorite made from a broth of prawn head and shells, pork ribs, garnished with bean sprouts, slices of prawn (sometimes pork), kang kong and fried shallots.
The first prawn noodle soup was brought into Singapore by early immigrants from the Fujian province of China. Then, the prawn noodle soup contained dried shrimps and scallops, which were brewed for at least 8 hours to make the stock. The dish was named Hokkien Prawn Noodle not because it was brought from the Fujian (Hokkien) province, rather, it was named as such, as the yellow noodles that usually accompanied the Prawn Noodle soup was made in Hokkien Street.
I couldn’t resist walking into the branch of ‘Beach Road Prawn Noodle Shop’ along East Coast Road after dropping K off from school this week, after noticing the number of cars parked alongside the shop every morning (except for Mondays, when the shop is closed).
Within the same shop, the owners also sold fried wu xiang. Most customers will order a plate of wu xiang to go with with their prawn noodle. But since a long-time resident and foodie of Katong area mentioned not to go with the wu xiang (as it is over-priced and not so tasty), I just went for the prawn noodle soup with bee-hoon.
The verdict? The prawn and pork rib soup was tasty and flavorful, best when served piping hot.
What kind of noodles do you like with your prawn noodle soup, bee-hoon or the yellow egg noodles?
Right at the corner of Chapel Road from East Coast Road is this blue-green colored shop-house with a business that dates back to the 1920s. With it’s mosaic floor tiles and marbled table tops, you will feel just like you stepped back into the 50s ambiance of a Hainanese Coffee Shop.
The hot favorites from Chin Mee Chin Confectionary hardly changed through the years; piping hot black coffee, Kaya Buns, Sugee Cake, Custard Egg Tart, Custard Puff and the Luncheon Meat (SPAM) roll.
Be prepared to share a table with strangers as the coffee shop can be crowded even on weekday mornings. If you are planning to head there for the first time, don’t wait at your table to order, as the auntie (rather aged and quite grumpy) hardly comes around to take your orders. Instead, choose your own pastries from the shelf and stand at the counter to order, and do make sure that the auntie writes it down.
As for my breakfast usual? 2 Half-boiled eggs with dark sauce and a dash of pepper, accompanied with hot Teh-Si (tea with milk).
And it will still be business as usual for this old dame CMC, there be no chance of it closing down any time soon.
How do you like your half-boiled egg? With dark or light soya sauce?
Behind these dusty window panes is a medical shop manned by a middle aged lady and her aged mother…
Taking a peek through the windows of these shophouses, I see dark, dusty rooms, now abandoned. Once homes to residents living along Katong Road.
The former Red House Bakery, once a landmark on Katong Road, used to be famous for its Swiss rolls and curry puffs. The“Red House” Bakery was the first in Singapore to bake three-tier Western-style wedding cakes in the 1920s.
It will become residential homes very soon, to be sold to affluent house buyers.
Katong, whose history is filled with vacation homes and mansions for the wealthy in the 19th century, still retains some of its charm with its quaint cafes, eateries and glimpses of its Peranankan heritage. What other nostalgic finds will I discover in this neighborhood? Do read the upcoming posts to find out!
Laksa, a Peranankan dish of ‘chor bee hoon’ noodles swimming in a rich, spiced coconut and fish based gravy soup of ground dried prawns, fish cake, bean sprouts and cockles, topped with a garnish of Laksa leaves. Salivating yet?
This variant of Laksa from Katong, is characteristic by the way it is eaten from the bowl; with only a spoon, without the use of chopsticks or a fork.
A random fact about Laksa in Katong – in the 90s, Laksa ‘wars’ erupted among 4 stalls on the same road, all claiming to be the best and the original Katong Laksa. Is this stall the real McCoy?
Actually it isn’t. I have been told which stall in Katong is the real Katong Laksa but have yet to try it.
It’s going to be a huge challenge to keep my weight down, having to walk pass many of these Singapore local favorites every weekday morning!
Do you like Laksa? How do you usually like it, with ‘Hum’ or without? Do share your favorite Laksa stalls.
Part of the fun of exploring a local culture is getting to taste the cuisine that the culture offers.
Amongst the 4 cultures, Peranakan food has to be one of my favorites (I have too many favorites from our selection of Singapore’s cuisine). And where can we find the largest selection of Peranakan restaurants in Singapore? Definitely Katong of course.
Ngoh Hiang – fatty ground pork, together bits of water chestnut seasoned with five spiced powder, wrapped in bean curd skin. Steamed first, then fried to a crispy outside and juicy inside. Really addictive!
Bakwang Kepiting – Crab and Meatball Soup.
Babi Pongteh – Braised Pork with Fermented Soya Bean (Tau Cheo) This is a vital dish that will be included in a traditional Tok Panjang (translated as long table), a formal dining style of choice for the Peranakan Chinese, for special occasions like birthdays and weddings.
Chap Chye – Mixed Vegetable stew
K loves Nonya Cuisine as well, he has been reminding me every other evening, in our bus journey from school to home. Pointing to Peranakan Inn, exclaiming that he loves the Chap Chye and everything else that we ordered from the restaurant, and that we have to visit the place for a meal very soon.
Do you love Nonya Food too? What’s your favorite dish?