My dad, my brother and my sister don’t like to go. They hover at the ends of aisles, noses slightly scrunched in defence against the intrusive smells. It’s too loud and over-crowded.
My mom and I hunt for shallots. She likes the very small ones. They must be firm with no hints of sprouting or discoloration. Later at home, she will chop them finely and fry them until they’re deep brown and crispy. We’ll use them for garnishing soups, like those made from bitter gourd vegetables braised along with pork ribs.
Further down the same aisle, she holds up bundles of leafy vegetables,
“Kangkong? Or snow pea leaf?”
Lightly fried with sambal belacan, a spicy paste of dried chilies and shrimp, the Kangkong stalks – tender and chewy – slip like noodles off my chopsticks.
I browse the stacks of produce for pandan leaves. We will simmer these with coconut milk, sugar and beaten egg yolks to make kaya, a rich eggy jam. I slather it like butter on toast for breakfast.
To read the full piece by Jennifer Livingstone buy a copy of issue #1 - available in the shop now.