I've been eating a lot of fine Chinese food over the Chinese New Year, and lots of yummy stuff cooked at home by mother, so pardon me as I leave a trail of drool as I stick my snout into the wonderful hawker food guide The End of Char Kway Teow and other Hawker Mysteries. It's by award-winning food blogger Dr Leslie Tay (ieatishootipost.sg) and it's gastroporn of the most delicious kind. Divided into chapters featuring all the heart-stopping Singapore street food like laksa, satay, rojak and other obsessions which I've not eaten in ages, it's a pretty definitive, opiniated, well-researched, guide including ratings and addresses and directions. I just want to tear downstairs and fly to the nearest hawker stand. Fortunately, the nearest one for me is Singapore's top biryani store (across the road); I don't like biryani, otherwise I'll be eating, not blogging.On a different note, I've been reading E M Forster's Collected Short Stories. They are queerly comforting, and read very much like period pieces. I didn't use to think so when I first discovered these in my 20s, but upon reading them again, I find that they feel anachronistic. It's truly a vanished world. Just downstairs, gay couples, with their Stussy T-shirts and sling bags, stroll in pairs of a Sunday morning, with nary a care in the world. They know no repression. They don't need polite metaphors for the love that once caused Forster panic and anxiety. They have their lattes, and designer flip flops and Lady Gaga.
Needless to say, I prefer polite metaphors and Merchant-Ivory movies.I just read in the papers that drinking more than two cups of coffee a day can be good for your health - specifically, some substance in coffee supposedly lowers the risk of diabetes. Alas I can only drink one cup a day, and never after 1pm for fear I would be tossing and turning the better part of the night away. However, I've been completely absorbed by the 2008 Korean drama Coffee Prince. I'm not ashamed to admit this because this is simply one of the best things I've seen in a long while and it's a very well made entertainment, perfectly cast (gorgeous good actors) and cleverly written to milk every adult tear still left in the desert of your folorn heart. It's completely escapist of course, with little that is realistic, but that's its magic I suppose. The girl is so poor that she has to disguise herself as a boy to work in a coffee house; No it doesn't make sense, and even her poverty never feels desperate or ugly, and is instead an excuse for very cute antics, and silly behaviour. There's no real crisis, no fatal illness, nothing upsetting or stressful, just the bittersweet romance of The Butterfly Lovers, or Yentl, or As You Like It, where the boy falls in love with the boy who is a girl, but with a Starbucks setting.
Gong Yoo, the leading man, is of course meltingly adorable (as yummy as the best oyster omelette), and has become an obsession. I can't believe how ideal they've made him, and how unrealistic and impossible to match in real life. So that's my discovery in the Year of the Hare, and if you find yourself all alone this Valentine's Day, do not despair. Go to your nearest DVD store and buy Coffee Prince - Gong Yoo is simply the best thing since... E M Forster?