By: Dr Michael Loh
I refer to Lester Wong’s piece in today’s ST (Kick your ‘char kway teow habit’; MIND BODY, pg B10)
Yes, char kway teow may be lard-laden, but it is somewhat of a national dish with its genesis as an energy-giving means of sustenance to impoverished denizens of a then-developing nation. It has carbohydrates, little bits of fried lard to give it flavor, some blood cockles for vital mineral and iodine content, a bit of vegetables in the form of bean sprouts and for a finishing touch of “luxury” a couple of slices of Chinese sausage. Credit should be given to whoever “invented” that dish.
Singaporeans abroad, when asked what local dish they miss most almost always replied “char kway teow.”
For the writer to just mention the dish twice without any sensible or credible explanation as to the “harmfulness” of it is simply puzzling. Not only that, it insults the intelligence of Singaporeans who have since realized that there are healthy versions of char kway teow fried using vegetable oil and that there are far more “lethal” local dishes than char kway teow.
Moreover, no one eats that dish every day, most perceive it as an occasional indulgence, a guilty pleasure if you will. Just as many of us pay top dollars to indulge in the humble Teochew moey, char kway teow serves to bring us fond memories of those early difficult days of our nationhood.
So please, let’s not denigrate a dish that has helped build a nation.
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