Monthly Archives: November 2008

Weird Food: Sea Snails

dscn1196Sea Snails de-shelled

Usually at the end of my Boston trips, the Sricharoenchaikit family takes me for a Dim Sum lunch before I board the Chinatown Bus back to New York. I get to satisfy my cravings for Har Gow and Char Siew Bao. But it’s also one of the only times when I can indulge in blood cake/tofu (sadly no longer available in Singapore) and Sea Snails.

The sea snails, which are like briny escargot, are served with a black bean sauce. I snack on them; prying open its operculum (the solid flap at the opening of its shell) and digging out the gastropod while waiting for the Dim Sum cart to reappear.

I rarely eat them now, my attention drawn away by the abundant fascinating food found in Singapore. But whenever I see them, I’m brought back to those happy times eating Dim Sum in Boston with the Sri family.

Related Post: Boston Interlude


Boston Interlude

dscn1192Katrin performs in Quincy Market

As much as I love the city, sometimes I need to get away from New York. And I usually do it by a four-hour, $15, Chinatown bus ride to visit Jenny and her family in Boston.  Well actually Westborough, Massachusetts, but Westborough Interlude just doesn’t have the same ring to it. 

Visiting the Sricharoenchaikit (just sound it out, sri-cha-roen-chai-kit) family lets me venture into suburbia. And it’s as exciting as visiting another country, taking in the sights; the strip malls, lawns, Volvos, soccer moms (now hockey moms) and houses, widely spaced no less. This was the everyday exotic that I missed while in the city. 

dscn1131My last time in Boston. At the North End

While visiting, Jenny would organize little tours or events. There was a culinary tour of the historic North End, where I learned how fennel helps in digestion and tasted for the first time, a fresh, lusciously honey-sweet fig. 

dscn1090 Marzipan at Maria’s

dscn1147Rainbow Pasta!

dscn1124The North End tour made me crave tripe, like the ones I ate in Tuscany.

dscn1141Clams at a stall during the St. Anthony’s Festival. Looking both delicious and dangerous.

dscn1156 Italian Sweets

dscn1145 I don’t think this picture needs a caption.

dscn1146 Cannoli Shells!

There was a trip with her family to the “Ghetto Fabulous” (in a good way) Hampton Beach in New Hampshire. We basked on the beach in the warm sunlight, walked on the boardwalk where there were carnival games and hermit crabs in little terrariums for sale at the many souvenir shops. Her parents treated me to a great lobster dinner at the local restaurant.

picture-126   The Sri Women at Canobie Lake Park

Together with her sisters, the Sri girls, we visited Canobie Lake Amusement Park, an old childhood favorite of Jenny’s. I ate funnel cake and tried not to regurgitate it on those puke rides.

She introduced me to my first Cuban pig roast, at a family friend’s house. It was a whole day gorge-fest of food and alcohol. The main event was a whole pig, expertly roasted for hours, resulting in delicately crisp skin and succulently tender meat. The pig was laid out in the kitchen with a knife beside it. We just helped ourselves to it and the numerous other Latin dishes there. We ate the pork with a pinch of sea salt and lime, and chased it with shots of Patrón, to “cut the fat.” We would eat, drink, eat, drink, nap and then repeat the cycle, the only variable being how much we ate and drank before our little power naps. By the end of the day-night we had consumed the whole pig.


picture-120 With the crabs I brought from New York to make Chili crab for the family.

But most of the time we just hung out at home. And that was perhaps the most enjoyable time of my trips there. 

That was the only family time I had.

I’ve been living by myself ever since I was 18 and conscripted into the Singapore Army. My parents, at that time were posted to Taiwan. While in college they were in Australia and while I was in New York, they were in Brunei, where they currently live. The Sri family took me in and cared for me like their own. I am so grateful for their hospitality. There was nothing as enjoyable to me, as sitting around the dinner table, eating and talking as a family. The food, seasoned with the warmth and generosity of the Sri family always tasted wonderful. 

Yummy Honeys: Padma Lakshmi

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I have a curse. I’ve never been able to catch the finale episodes of Top Chef. Now that I’m in Singapore, I can’t even watch Top Chef. They just finished season one a few months ago.  So come November 12, I won’t be able to get a culinary boner watching the cheftestants duke it out in my adopted hometown of New York on Bravo

Padma, ribs and a bed = my ultimate fantasy. Image from

Another reason why that sucks is that I’ll miss the exotic beauty of Indian born, but American raised Padma Lakshmi. There is nothing hotter than an intellectual, gorgeous woman who loves to eat and cook. You would think that Bravo added host/judge Padma, in season two, just for eye candy, but she has authored two cookbooks; Easy Exotic and the latest Tangy, Tart, Hot & Sweet. She definitely deserves to be up there on the judges’ panel with Chef Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons of Food & Wine Magazine, more so I think than Ted Allen (and he’s apparently not coming back for this season.) 

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The perfect girl? Well I kind of dig her languid way of speaking but she uses the word “palate” way too much, her hotness though, more than makes up for it. Luckily for us, Padma is now single, having left her husband, Salman Rushdie (yes that one,) who is 23 years her senior.

For those of you wondering, the prominent scar on her right arm was caused by a car accident when she was 14 years old. Scar or not, she’s still totally hot and The Importance of Salt’s November Yummy Honey.

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   She looks and speaks like some exotic queen. Image from

Padma white hot here: