In the mix of Singaporean food options, from South Indian through Malay and on to Indonesian, Japanese, and Italian, and a host of other variations, there is unusual thread. The quality of several popular dishes pivot with the sauce or gravy. If one thinks of Chili and Pepper Crab, the key is the sauce. When is comes to Indian curries, quality is often found in the gravy. Even the various noodle dishes pivot on the sauce, gravy, or soup they come in. Singaporeans love their food. Nothing good goes to waste. As a result is that some form of bread is available to help gather and consume the extra sauce that comes with the dish.
As I watch my tablemates reveling in their food, the importance of the bread vehicle is clear. The bread must gather and soak up the gravy! It must be help transport the sauce from the dish to one’s mouth. It should complement but never overwhelm the gravy itself. While it is critical, it is not the focal point of the meal.
The break used for seafood is small white flour based buns. They are bland and boring, but they serve a critical purpose! Indian breads, white or dark, have very little flavor on a standalone basis. Nans are a great example. White flour, no oil, and crisp. The point is what they go with, not by themselves.
An old story had an illustration related to food. It seems to echo the Singaporean food experience. “The Messiah, our Passover Lamb, has already been sacrificed for the Passover meal, and we are the Unraised Bread part of the Feast. So let’s live out our part in the Feast, not as raised bread swollen with the yeast of evil, but as flat bread—simple, genuine, unpretentious.” (1 Corinthians 5.8)
I had struggled with getting a sense of how the illustration played itself out in a day. Last night’s dinner gave me a new way to understand the picture. I love bread. It can on occasion stand alone, yet it is best with great food.