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The Rice Dessert Asians Despise

Rice, milk, and sugar. A simple dessert Asians despise.

South-East Asia generally, and Singapore specifically, is a gourmet’s delight. The food here is diverse in style and taste. There is so much variety it can be hard to decide which glorious dish (or ten) to eat, when given a choice. Many of them involve rice. However, there is one rice dish that the people here despise, and it’s the one that my mother taught me to make.

My mother grew up poor. We’re talking Depression Era poor. For the first few years of her life, she lived in a tent. She began her working life (in her early teens) as a domestic servant, cooking, cleaning, and performing the same duties that the domestic servants (coming from a host of developing nations) do now in Singapore (and a lot of other places as well). That’s where she honed her cooking skills, learning to use whatever was at hand to feed her employer’s family. That talent was further refined during The War, with rationing in full swing. My mother was an excellent cook. My own fascination with food and its cooking came about because of her. Especially her ability to make the unpalatable into the delicious. There was one dish in particular that I grew up with. We didn’t have it often because we rarely ate rice when I was growing up. However, whenever we did have leftover rice, my mother would make this for me.

Asians eat a lot of rice. It’s fundamental not just to their diet, but to the various cultures. Even the Chinese word for rice means food (饭). However, they can be a little delicate at times about how it’s prepared. Uncle Roger’s reaction to how the English cook rice is not such an exaggeration.

So here I come flouncing into South-East Asia and I dare to cook my mother’s recipe. It’s simple, with just three ingredients, and takes a couple of minutes to make. It’s practical, it uses leftovers. It’s delicious. What more can you want, right?

And yet, if you just casually mention that you eat milk, rice and sugar (or other sweetener), you should see the looks of disgust on their faces here. It’s as if you’d admitted to eating your own faeces. And yet it’s just a poor person’s rice pudding recipe. That too tends to garner looks of disapproval here.

I suppose I shouldn’t be complaining. It just means more for me, I guess.


I’m skribe. I’m a writer, a film-maker and an actor. While I’m originally from Perth, Australia, I currently reside on a tropical island, the Lion City of Singapore. Fingerprint: 79A1 DC6C D367 8A31 135A 7AFA 940E 4231 D7B9 B15C If you like what you see buy me a coffee.

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