Sunday is generally our day to restock the pantry. We alternate between the big store called Carrefour (here called a “hypermart” because, in addition to groceries, it has all kinds of other things – clothes, electronics, small appliances, cookware, etc., etc., etc. – vaguely like a Walmart) and a smaller grocery store in a nearby mall. Today, it was our turn to visit Carrefour.
Singapore has two Carrefours. One is in Plaza Singapura, which is a big mall. The other is in Suntec City, a giant mall spread across four or five or six – it’s easy to lose count – giant towers. And today, we decided to visit the Suntec Carrefour for the first time. By the time we got there, it was way past lunch time, so finding something to eat was our first order of business. Food in Singapore is sometimes a bit of a contradiction. Places to eat are literally everywhere. But it can sometimes be tricky to find one – especially a specific kind – when you want it.
Happily for us, the Suntec hawker center was the first thing we encountered.
“Is this all Asian food? Does everything have rice or noodles?” Nancy asked. We hadn’t had the best luck ordering lunch at yesterday’s restaurant. Hong Kong style curry, with a big mound of rice. Plain rice isn’t her favorite (“I’m avoiding useless carbs”), and the curry was spicier than normal. At the hawker center food stalls, it is all Asian, ranging from Chinese through Indian and Vietnamese to Singaporean and on to Malaysian, Indonesian, and Phillipino. All including rice or noodles, with just a few exceptions: kaya toast. Prata – a Singaporean / Indian crepe, sometimes served with a bowl of curry sauce for breakfast. Chinese steamed dumplings.
We settled on a lunch of roast duck breast with soup, long thin noodles (for long life!), and a stem of lightly cooked yu choi. Delicious and only S$10 apiece. We took chopsticks but no forks. I could only see metal, western spoons to use for the soup. While I was standing in line at the drinks stall, Mr. Duck came out with Chinese spoons and took away the western spoons we had. He wanted us to enjoy his cooking with the proper utensils!
Fortified with lunch, we continued our quest to find the giant Carrefour.
In the last few weeks, Nancy has come to the conclusion that we need a vacuum. Mopping the floors with a swifter – even a wet swifter – just wasn’t doing the job. So job one at Carrefour was to find the vacuums. They’re different from those we’re used to seeing. No stand-up, tilt handle, Dyson power, miles and miles of cord, vacuums here. They’re almost all tiny canisters that roll behind you on two big wheels. They’re rated in watts: 1600, 1800, 2000, 2100. More watts, more powerful motor, better dirt sucking. We looked for a good half hour, then got some attention from a very helpful clerk. She demonstrated the way these vacuums work (and she was probably thinking, what’s wrong with these foreigners? Haven’t they ever seen a vacuum cleaner? And why don’t they have their maid with them anyway???)
We came home with our groceries, a couple bottles of wine, and a brand new French- made vacuum (don’t get the other model; it’s made in China – yes, that’s exactly what our Chinese clerk said). When it’s turned on, it sounds like a small jet plane winding up for takeoff. But it’s a glorious red (not disgusting purple like on the box) – a lucky color for Chinese New Year and for all the year!