What I'm about to say will likely send some of you into a convulsing state of shock as the likelihood of it won't even register mentally given what you've most certainly observed from my almost incomprehensibly high level of manliness. While it's true that most see me as a 'tough-guy'--the type that likely chews on nails like bubble gum and is frequently compared to Chuck Norris (the benchmark of manliness), when it comes to what I put in my mouth, I can be a bit... selective.
It's not that I don't appreciate local flavor--I think the flavors are great. Singapore is a melting pot of Asian cuisine. With so much diversity of culture, comes diversity of food, and when it comes to the flavors, I love it all. Thai food? Love it. Indian food? Chicken tikka masala is one of my favorite things to eat in this world. Chinese food? Sweet and sour pork is killer. Japanese food? The best deep-frying in the world is done by the Japanese (well, except for me amigos south of the border... the American border that is). So I should love the cuisine here in Singapore then, right? Well,... you'd think so, and I would, were it not for two things.
First. I like meat. But I only like meat. I don't like ligaments. I don't like skin. I don't like fat. I don't like connective tissue. I don't like bones. I don't like feathers. I don't like beaks. I don't like organs. I don't like feet. I don't like eyeballs. I don't like marrow. I don't like hoofs, or ears, or any other animal derivative that is not meat! Here in Singapore, the other animal derivatives are popular... and I think even preferred for their alleged flavor-enhancing qualities, so I have a hard time with most 'local' food and even a lot of non-local food that is made anywhere other than my kitchen.
Second. You will find on my desk a bottle of anti-bac. I wash my hands frequently and well. I am sometimes afraid of doorknobs, elevator buttons (aka "lift buttons" here in Singapore), stair railings, and other frequently-touched items. And I'm also afraid of the associated filth of cockroaches, geckos, and other bugs that love the hot, humid weather here in Singapore. I am a bit extreme, I'll admit. And it is not that I think other people are dirty (well, okay, some I do), but I'm just pretty dang sure most people are not as clean as me. And I become especially concerned about others' cleanliness when I think of consuming food made by their hands and in their kitchens using their knives (that hopefully did not just smack a cockroach and return to cutting-up beef for my curry... after all, how would I ever spot or taste cockroach guts in curry?!?).
Paranoid? Maybe. Not so much that I refuse to eat out, but I do scour every eating establishment that I'm considering patronizing for the big red box with the "A" in it. What does that mean? Well here in Singapore, the health inspectors hand-out report-card-like ratings to food vendors. From what I've heard, the visit is randomly unannounced, an inspection is done, and a letter-grade is given, and they are legally required to post it. Now I don't know the criteria of what makes an "A" and "A" or the difference between and "A" and a "B", nor do I want to know or I might never eat out again--but eating at only (or mostly) "A"s does make me feel better.
For that reason, this for me is a very comforting sight:
Thank you to the health-inspectors for making this world a world I can eat in... and PLEASE, do not be lenient!