- POSTED: 06 Jan 2014 18:34
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Singapore television host Bryan Wong uncovers the origins of iconic local dishes like Hokkien Fried Noodles in his new show “A Taste of History”.
SINGAPORE: What does Peranakan culture have to do with the popular Singaporean dish Hokkien Fried Noodles?
Who came up with the local favourite Fried Kway Teow?
Singapore television host Bryan Wong goes on a journey to find the answers to these questions, and learn about the origins of iconic local dishes in his new show “A Taste of History”.
Although he had hosted countless food programmes in the past, Wong feels that “A Taste of History” is very different from his previous shows, even though they all revolve around food.
“It’s really special because it’s the first food programme I have done which does not require me to say multiple variations of ‘It tastes great!’,” said Wong with a laugh.
“I don’t have to say ‘Quick come and queue for it’ or ‘You must come try it!’. It’s not about telling people where to find good food."
"It’s about how the dish came to be, its historical significance, and the stories of the people who have been selling it in Singapore since the beginning. It allows audiences to learn about Singapore's history through the history of her food.”
Wong has met all sorts of interesting people while filming the show, like an aging expert who showed him how to make the perfect popiah (a sort of wrap with turnip and other fillings) skins, and a man who can truly call Joo Chiat Road his grandfather’s road.
But his most memorable encounter was with a man who has taken over his late father’s curry noodle stall.
“His father had died just two weeks earlier. When I asked what a bowl of curry noodles means to him, he just broke down and said ‘I didn’t know before, but I know now’.
“He told me that the curry noodles represented the essence of his father’s attitude towards life,” said Wong.
“Food can remind you of so many things.”
A sweet and sour tale
For Wong, it is sweet and sour pork which holds a special place in his heart.
He explained that eating sweet and sour pork always brings back beautiful memories of his childhood.
“On the first day I went to the television station in the 70s to be a child actor, my parents had to go to work, so I took the bus and walked up the hill on my own. But early in the morning, my mother prepared sweet and sour pork for my lunch.
“I remember I was sitting at an old stairwell (during lunch). When I opened the lunchbox and saw the sweet and sour pork with fries. I suddenly missed my mother so much, and I started crying!” confided Wong, who was only seven at the time.
“It was my mother’s love in the Tupperware container. That was unforgettable!”
“I don’t know whether I’m in love with the food, or the memory [associated with] the food,” said Wong pensively, before breaking into a smile.
“I think it’s a bit of both.”
“A Taste of History” airs every Tuesday from January 7, 8.30pm on Channel U.