i-weekly feature on The End of Char Kway Teow

i-weekly supplement No. 689, 13 Jan 2011, Pg 3

Many thanks to Shi Yun for translating the text!

Why did you publish a book?
Last August, the publisher asked if I wanted to print a book out of my blog posts. Back then the movie “Julie & Julia” was screening, and the plot was based on a true story of a food blogger. My first reaction was, “wow! that seems like a lot of effort!” But in the end I was successfully persuaded by the publisher.

Why did you name the book “The End of Char Kway Teow and other hawker mysteries”?
Haha, the original name of the book was quite different from this. Originally, the book was about the food trips of a doctor. In the midst of writing, it slowly evolved into one about introducing the colourful hawker centre culture of Singapore. Thus, I decided that other than introducing the food, I wanted to add in the story behind it, to allow the readers to understand how a plate of CKT or Hokkien Mee is fried for it to be delicious. My friend told me that if it wasn’t for me, he would not have realised that the local traditional food is close to extinction, and hence the book name.

How do you decide which stall to interview? What is the biggest difficulty that you have met with?
Records of the some of the local hawker food are not complete, and hence I try to complete it on the blog. For example, the article on chwee kueh wasn’t substantial. Later I wrote an article on the Ghim Moh chwee kueh, and extended it to “Why is Chwee Kueh called Chwee Kueh?”. After blogging for 4 years, I receive a lot of comments and suggestions, and hance when it comes to choosing a stall, I will consider the general consensus and add in my own opinion to grade it.

In the book it lists 35 types of local hawker food, are there any missing ones?
Hmm, there wasn’t enough publishing space, and I have to sacrifice those like satay bee hoon as there weren’t enough stalls to complete a chapter on it..

Choose 5 local hawker delights to introduce to an overseas friend/tourists:
Char Kway Teow, Fried Hokkien Mee, BKT, Mee Pok (dry) and Chicken Rice.

When do you plan to publish your 2nd book?
Haha, now my feeling is like a mother who just gave birth, and I wouldn’t want to have a second child that soon. But I hope I can tell the story of hawkers through different modes, such as movies or comics, to more people. What is to be done now is to translate the book into Mandarin, so that the Mandarin readers can read the book as well.

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