8 Jun 2007

And Then We Had Cottage Pie......

So here we are in the shipyard; only seven of us and the rig is just a box - nothing on it at all and us seven are staying in an hotel and get bussed to and from the shipyard each day. So obviously no food on the rig.

Just outside the shipyard gates is what is known down this part of the world as a hawker hall, or what we would call, up my part of the world, an 'awker 'all. Why are they called hawker halls? I here you ask. Well, I have no idea unless it's the name given to the sound us foreigners make shortly after eating what is on offer. There are hawker halls that cater for tourists, meaning you can pretty much recognise what's on offer, and they can tell all the folks back home how they ate real local food. And there are hawker halls for the locals in areas where tourists never venture, like by shipyards, and these are a whole different ball game!!

Anyhoo, after several days of lunches of S$2 worth of curry sauce and rice, me and this other fool beside, while browsing the delights on display, spotted what looked remarkably like Cottage Pie. Now common sense would tell you, right quick, that it was not Cottage Pie. But common sense being in short supply that day, again, we decided to go for said dish.

At this point I had better explain a little about these here hawker halls and the etiquette involved in ordering food. As the name cunningly implies it's a hall and in the hall are many small food stalls plying their trade - some selling Chinese food, some Indonesian food, Indian and so forth. Please don't confuse Chinese and Indian food down here with that what you buy back home at the corner take away. This kit is a whole different kettle of fish. Or dog, or cat, or lizard. To order your plate of delights is just a matter of browsing round the hall, picking a stall and pointing at the bowl containing that which looks the least likely to keep you're sanitized European digestive system confined to the petty for a couple of days. I'm being a tad unfair again as, on the whole, the vegetables and rice are as good as it gets, as is most of the meat. Most of the meat, not all of the meat, most of the meat. Some of the meat looks very, very scary. Please don't get me started about the fish.

Where were we? Ah, yes. This is the 'How to Order in a Hawker Hall' bitty. Pick your stall, pick your dish amongst the many available at the stall, attract the owner/cooks attention and commence pointing. No talking, just pointing.

Me and him, having picked a stall and our dish, Cottage Pie, the pointing began. We took it in turns to point at the Cottage Pie. As a by-the-by, It's a little known fact that it's considered very rude for more than one person to point at a time in an 'awker 'all. Taking your turn to point is considered a form of queueing in some countries. You didn't know that?

Then I spoke.

"Mmmm, looks good; by the way, what is it my good hawkery cooking and vendoring person?"

"I have no idea." came the cooks instant, perfect English reply, with one of those inscrutable Chinese looks that only the inscrutable Chinese looking people can inscrutably look at you with.

It was not Cottage Pie.......

Quote - Mitch Hedberg;

I like rice. Rice is great if you're hungry and want 2000 of something.

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