My cousin, Patty, actually lives & teaches in this next country we’ll be reading. (Hi Patty!) Until she moved there, I didn’t know much about the country, but since then, I’ve learned a bit about it from her as well as from research for a possible trip there.
This country is known for its fast-growing economy & having some of the cleanest streets in the world along with strict laws to keep it that way. This land also has one of the lowest crime rates due to severe penalties that are handed out for even petty crimes. For instance, eating in public transportation & jaywalking result in hefty fines whereas a charge of graffiti is met with corporeal punishment in the form of caning!
Know which country I’m referring to? No?
Well, the year-round summer is often appreciated though the humidity isn’t usually enjoyed. However, the country’s fantastic (& cheap!) street food is relished by all.
Food isn’t the only way to indulge as this classic rosy-colored cocktail was also invented there in 1915 & offers a very different take on what most people associate with the main spirit included.
However, it’s this country’s symbol which is truly beloved by both natives & visitors alike. Much like the bald eagle is famed as the national emblem & mascot of the US, this country has its own famed animal—a mythical beast. According to the Fairytale Traveler, this country is said to be founded by a prince who saw a lion when he first stepped foot on the land & so both the country’s name & its symbol are derived from this sighting. However, this mythical animal also pays homage to another aspect of this land—its early beginnings as a humble fishing village & seaport.
Merlion—a mythical beast with the head of a lion & the body of a fish!
SO WHAT COUNTRY ARE WE READING NEXT?
Lion City as it’s nicknamed…or Singapore as it’s properly known! (“Singapura” traces its roots back to Sanskrit words “singa” for “lion” & “pura” for “city.”)
The rosy drink pictured above is, of course, the Singapore Sling which is widely regarded as the national Singaporean drink. It’s a sweet & sour gin-based cocktail very different from the usual gin-based drinks since it also contains pineapple juice, lime juice, Curaçao, & Bénédictine along with grenadine & cherry liqueur to give it a pretty pink hue.
While drinking is a fun past time in Singapore, eating is the national obsession as evidenced by the greeting of “sudah makan” (have you eaten?) which is used instead of “hello” or “how are you.” One of the most beloved & traditional ways to eat in Singapore is at a “hawker center.” Hawker centers are semi-enclosed buildings housing rows & rows of tiny food stalls that serve a variety of food. Though usually prepared to order, this mouthwatering street food is still quick & cheap.
Curious about the dishes or want to try your hand at cooking one? Singapore Hawker Classics Unveiled (https://amzn.to/2Z5YoHm) was created as a celebration of Singapore's renowned culinary heritage for the country’s golden jubilee (50 years of independence in 2015). Each recipe begins with the origins of the dish & its variations along with sensory attributes to give you a sense of the aroma, flavor, & mouthfeel. Every dish includes a tried & tested recipe along with step-by-step photos so you can recreate this street food without having ever tasted the original. Little tidbits of culinary science & chef hints are also included.
HAVE ANY BOOK CLUB SUGGESTIONS?
Just let us know your suggestions from Singapore by Sun., Aug. 18 11PM ET.
(That's NYC time. See this converted to your local time below.)
We'll use 2 suggestions from book club members, 2 suggestions from Ivor (the book club moderator who chose the country this month), 1 of my suggestions, & 1 of Mia’s suggestions (the club co-founder) to compile a list of 6 books on which book club members will provide their thoughts. The book judged as best from the list will then be read.
Please note - We're specific in our books, they must:
Largely occur in the location specified unless the world described is an alternate reality
Be written by an author born there who has spent a good portion of their life there
Exist in paperback & ebook available on both Amazon & Kindle at least in the US & hopefully elsewhere