Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Tea and Taboo

Last week, so as not to distract Joey during his Hugely Stressful Looming Deadline, I figured I needed to find a project of my own. So I decided: I would bake. Strangely, though I loved my semi-custom kitchen in New Jersey, I find myself cooking a lot more in the Lilliputian (though, thank God, air-conditioned) kitchen here in Singapore.

True, the oven is only just big enough to fit the smallest baking sheet I could find in the US. But here I also know a lot more women who either work part time or freelance (as I do) or don’t work at all. Which means I can lure them over during the day to eat the excessively caloric things I’ve made, so I don’t have to.

The other reason I bake for them is that my ordinary American staples are new and exciting to my Singaporean and international friends. Never mind that they can make the best mee rebus and rojak imaginable, the most delectable popiah filling from scratch, the perfect crusty Norwegian bread, the most endorphin-inducing Thai salads with piercing heat and delicate blends of spices.

They’ll still mob a plate of my standard chocolate chip cookies as if they were made from a secret gourmet recipe. And the American southern-style biscuits - my specialty, true, but they’re still only about 15 minutes from start to finish - are rhapsodized over as the most melt-in-your-mouth “scones” anyone has ever tasted.

So our mishmash of cultures made for a fairly successful afternoon tea - and, after only crumbs were left, a rather interesting game of Taboo. (We brought this game with us from the US. It consists of cards that each have one word at the top, which you must get your team to say, followed by five seemingly too-obvious words you are not allowed to use as hints.)

I admit I’d already edited the cards somewhat; I did not want to be doing the “Muslim” card or the “George W. Bush” card with this bunch. But I hadn’t anticipated that they’d have no idea what a “heartthrob” was – and I should have known they’d have an easy time with “shag” (the makers of these cards clearly weren’t British).

The “equator” card was pretty easy, too: “A line we live 85 miles away from.” And I’d guess that (Thai) “kickboxing” and “feng shui” were much more top-of-mind than they’d have been at a party in the US. A “bin” was a “thing you put rubbish in.”

And the “cockatoo” card? Easily identified as: “You know, those huge white birds that screech in your back garden at 6 a.m.”


BB said...

I love Taboo! And in a funny coincidence, my time ran out just as I got "cockatoo" when we played last week; I was incredibly thankful, since there's no real handy reference here in Boston. :)

We also realized how dated (and culture-specific) some of these references were; one of my friends remarked that "Kenneth Starr" is a card that no one would care about or remember outside of a short period in US politics in the late 90s.

Andrew said...

Delightful post. =)