For past two weeks, I’ve been getting my food on in Singapore with The Mothership. Mama Sertich traveled all the way to Singapore to see yours truly and I couldn’t be happier. I am lucky to have a mom who travels twenty-four hours to see her daughter, who ran away with her boyfriend to foreign country without having an income. Although, I suppose traveling to Singapore is nothing in comparison to twenty-six years of packing and unpacking me into various dorms (plus three different apartments), sending me unsolicited cash, and enduring every mood and every chapter of my existence with impeccable patience.
My mom came in the company of a travel companion, my Aunt Nina, who also acted as my official co-conspirator of snacks – green pea puffs, soursop ices, pocky sticks and any other tidbits that called to her at the supermarket. (There is actually a store called, “Tidbits World,” here that is an amazing alternate dimension of strange snacking opportunity.)
With my mom and aunt visiting, it was strange being the one with the plan, the map and the information. That’s generally not my role. Generally, I am the one getting lost. And I don’t think I’ve ever been in a position where my mom was the one who needed directions. In fact, she can often be found drawing little maps for me of the neighborhood I’ve been driving in since I was sixteen and I still can’t find the Post Office.
My mom always seems in charge. Maybe it comes from being a former gym teacher. I am told that when my mom gave birth, she popped my older brother out like a Pez dispenser. I’m pretty sure that after that she then sent my dad to go retrieve her a strawberry milkshake, grabbed the baby and played a set of tennis. In and out from the hospital on the same day with no drugs, no fuss, and no drama – putting it mildly, I come from hearty midwestern stock.
So, doing the menu ordering and helping my mom with chopsticks was a dramatic role-reversal. Don’t get me wrong, she still remained a rock star and very confident lady – I was just showing her my Singapore and thus, making the plans.
As the unofficial tour guide, I successfully led my mom and aunt on an edible tour around the island. We ate the local hawker center, where I showed them the man who hand-pulls noodles, we went to Strait’s Kitchen, where I explained Peranakan cuisine, and we got all dressed up for Sky on 57, where we were given complimentary champagne and felt very fancy.
There was also Muthu’s Curry, Din Tai Fung, and a complete exploration of a Singaporean bakery. We nibbled, slurped and chop-sticked are way through the surface of Singaporean culture.
Although, I’d been to all these restaurants before, there is nothing better than sharing the food you like with people you love. I showed them the joys of an afternoon bubble tea while meandering though one of Singapore’s thousands of malls (although my mom preferred the bubble tea minus the bubbles) and we ate at Din Tai Fung three times by popular request.
After years for my mom showing me everything, from how to tie my shoes to waterskiing to the art of spontaneous line dance, it was fun to draw the maps for the week. Rather than constantly taking knowledge and information, it was my short turn to give some, as well. While the art of ordering a beer at the hawker center can not compare to lessons of life she’s given me, I am happy to have had the opportunity to share a bao and show her Bali. It is the very least a daughter can do for her best friend.