Yesterday while having lunch with my family I couldn’t help but overhear a conversation happening in the table next to us.
For context the restaurant we were in was a Burmese restaurant and those seated next to us (a party of four) were debating what food to eat.
One of the party, an older lady, sounded like she was the host and had been to this restaurant before. She was introducing some of the dishes to the rest of the group. She explained what was the contents and described what some of the dishes were like.
There happened to be chicken curry on the menu and when she got to that she commented that it was different tasting from the usual Singaporean chicken curry. When asked to elaborate why it was different by the gentleman seated across from her she explained that it was cooked without coconut milk.
This seemed to really puzzle him as he kept asking again and again, ‘If they don’t use coconut milk then what do they use?’. It didn’t help that she couldn’t give him a satisfactory answer to his query. Through his relentless questioning he seemed to be implying that there had to be coconut milk in the dish otherwise it just couldn’t be chicken curry. No amount of persuasion seemed to work but thankfully the conversation turned to some other topic.
The part I found amusing was that right next to him I was eating that very dish of chicken curry that had inspired such a lively conversation. I can testify that it does not taste at all like our local chicken curry but more like gravy with a hint of chilli aftertaste. It didn’t taste bad at all but it was completely different from what i would have expected had I ordered this ‘Burmese’ dish expecting it to taste exactly like its Singaporean counterpart of the same name. Writing that out makes it sound even more ludicrous than it was in real life.
Clearly the guy read the words ‘chicken curry’ and immediately thought of the local chicken curry. What I found a bit silly was that he somehow couldn’t comprehend that there might be other types of curries around the world that taste different and are cooked differently. But to be fair the restaurant could have used a different name to describe the dish and therefore avoided all that confusion in the first place. Even changing the name to Burmese Chicken Curry might have helped, even if just a bit.
Being open minded in such a situation would definitely have helped. The world is a big place and each of us comes with a different background and perspective on things. To expect everyone to employ the same views and attitudes is clearly short sighted. We in Singapore especially shouldn’t allow ourselves to become too entrenched in one view. Given out geographic limitations and the influx of migrant workers spanning the globe I think we should be all the more open to different cultures, ideas and mindsets. To be otherwise is to be truly foolish.